Almost all Airmen can remember their first few months in the Air Force — going through the Military Entrance Processing Station, entering Basic Military Training, moving on to technical school and finally making it to their first duty station. But not all who serve come on two legs. Many may not realize the journey a military working dog travels to become one and how it can parallel to their own journey into the Air Force.
The 86th Security Forces Squadron welcomed a new MWD, a 2-year-old German Shepherd named Rogo, to their ranks June 29. He is fresh out of training from the 321st Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the gateway to the Air Force for Airmen and MWDs.
“Rogo has a great temperament for an MWD, meaning he can be trained easily,” said Staff Sgt. Bernardo Cortes, 86 SFS MWD trainer. “This is what you want because the MWD is able to learn tasks fast without having to stay stuck on what we call the ‘teach stage.’”
Before Rogo underwent training at Lackland, he had a few requirements to pass to be selected as an MWD. To start with, he had to fall under specific height and weight measurements and had a full medical examination for diseases and problems with hips and elbows. He was also tested for gun shyness, aggressiveness and basic searching behavior. This is similar to Airmen going through MEPS and BMT to ensure they are physically and mentally capable of being in the military.
Once it was determined Rogo was a good fit for the military, he went to tech school, or at least his version of it. For 156 days, he was taught obedience, aspects of patrol and explosive detection.
“What the MWDs are taught at Lackland is the bare basics,” said Staff Sgt. Lance Oakes, 86 SFS MWD trainer supervisor. “Much like Airmen going through tech school, they are taught the basics of how to perform their job. What we do when they arrive here is hone and sharpen those skills. The MWDs will know the commands, but sometimes they will or will not follow them. We work with them to ensure they obey every time.”
There is a 90-day trial period for MWDs to see how they will work in their new home. During this time, Rogo will be tested on multiple scouts, building search, patrol tasks, detection training, obstacle course, basic obedience and exposure to multiple real-world environments.
“The purpose is to expose the MWD to as much as possible to see if they are good candidates to be operational in the field,” Oakes said. “If they have discrepancies, they can be sent back to Lackland AFB and another MWD will be sent to replace them.”
Luckily for Rogo, he seems to be adjusting well and shows promise with his training.
“All of us in the Kaiserslautern Military Community should feel a little safer,” Cortes said. “Whether it is at night or during the day, Rogo will be on the job, protecting our freedom and keeping the bad guys in check.”