NEVADA TEST AND TRAINING RANGE, Nev. — The 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron and 66th Rescue Squadron performed new military working dog helicopter operations training for the first time here June 13.
This new training requires the handlers and their dogs to load onto a running helicopter, fly to an area where they will perform exercises and then take a return flight.
The training has benefits for both squadrons.
“With this type of training, both sides get a realistic scenario,” said Staff Sgt. Wendy Montellese, 99th GCTS military working dog instructor. “The handlers and dogs practice on- and off-loading, get a feel of the aircraft movement both on the ground and in the air, the noise and vibrations, and are exposed to all of that together. On the other side of it, the pilots are familiarized with the operations of the handlers and MWD and can see what it is that we do.”
This type of training helps the teams learn something new, and the handlers and dogs will see how each other react to flying in a helicopter and improve performance down range.
“If a handler and his dog will be going out to the smaller forward operating bases they will sometimes fly out on a helicopter, so this is good training for the dogs to get used to it now,” Tech. Sgt. Donald Ellison, 21st Security Forces Squadron kennel master. “Training in this desert environment is a way for them to get used to the heat and know what they are supposed to do. Down range it won’t be their first time so they will be more relaxed.”
Learning these tasks together is important for both the military working dog and the handler.
“During flying missions, it is important to know how a handler or a dog is going to react,” she said. “This is an opportunity for both to find out what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are.”
Performing live scenario exercises was one aspect of the training Ellison specifically highlighted.
“It’s really nice to have the combat rescue team out here and letting us use their aircraft,” he said. “It’s a great experience to get on the aircraft, and then have [the rescue team] take us out to a location where we can simulate some of the things that we actually do.”
The old training required the military working dog and its handler enter a stationary helicopter before the aircraft is turned on, and once the aircraft is in place, turned off and then back on.