HomeNewsArticle Display

RAFL canines on the beat

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Many of the 48th Security Forces members complain about Staff Sgt. Darrell Williams' partner.

The normal complaints range from his bad smell to how he much he sheds, yet neither Sergeant Williams or his partner are looking to put in a military equal opportunity complaint. Sergeant Williams' partner, Dan, is a dog, so the smell and hair are understandable to most.

Dan is one of eight canine members of the 48th SFS responsible for patrolling the base alongside his human partner. The four teams work 12 hour shifts on RAF responding to bomb threats and in general being a psychological deterrent.

The dogs have specialized training in detecting explosives or drugs.

Although to the Air Force the dogs are pieces of equipment assigned to the base, complete with a serial number, the canine handlers look at them as partners and friends.

"I know, who's got my back, my partner does day in and day out," said Sergeant Williams. "We've been partners for four years."

The handlers contend the dogs may be the best maintained equipment in the Air Force, "They're treated better than we are," said Staff Sgt. Jason Williams, 48th SFS K-9 trainer.

Each dog, which range in breed from Dutch Shepherd, Belgian Malawa and German Shepherd, have their own run with heated floors, a bed and blanket. For the dogs, each shift is an opportunity to hang out with their buddy and play. When their shift is over for the day, the dogs are returned to their pens to eat and get some rest.

There are more than 2,000 K-9 handlers Air Force-wide. Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas houses the 341st Training Squadron responsible for training handlers in all branches of the service and some multi-national forces.