The exercise is held every year and the host rotates between the Nordic countries within Nordefo (Nordic defense cooperation).
19 dog teams with patrol dogs and search dogs are participating in this year’s exercise.
The search dogs are trained to find and mark the presence of various explosives-classified preparations.
The task of patrol dogs is to track people and search for things that have been handled by humans. Most of them can also defend themselves and their handler.
The Swedish Armed Forces’ dog service unit (FHTE), which conducts the training, belongs to the Luftstridsskolan.
The sun is blazing in Mali and the patrol has been out with a search dog all morning. When they take a break, the dog suddenly collapses.
However, the black dog lying on the ground gasping for breath is not real, but a robotic dog that is used to train canine health care. And the merciless sun shines over a grassy slope in Märsta, where dog handlers and dogs from the Nordic countries as well as NATO countries England, the Netherlands and Belgium have come to sharpen their skills.
With the help of the robotic dog, veterinarians show how to check circulation, stop bleeding and secure a free airway on a dog with a muzzle.
Dog medical care is an important part of the exercise. With the robots, you can simulate realistic injuries, and among other things, breathing and pulse can be controlled remotely.
— The focus is on developing the drivers. It’s not dog training we deal with, says Peter Öhrling, who is the exercise leader.
Healthcare is just one of the items on the schedule. During the two weeks the exercise is in progress, dogs and dog handlers will be able to practice in different scenarios.
“It’s all about learning and gaining new insights into how to train with a dog,” says dog handler Davey Slingers from Belgium.
As the situation in the world has changed, so has the orientation of the service dogs.
— In the past, the exercises were very focused on, for example, operations in Afghanistan. Now we have a greater focus on national defence. We have revised the course content to adapt it to the situation, says Peter Öhrling.
Basically, the dogs are used as they always have been. They search and find the things you train them to find.
— The dog is very good in itself. You just need to give it food and care.
The Swedish Armed Forces mainly use German Shepherds, but this is not the case in all countries. Included in the exercise are, for example, malinois and cocker spaniels.
In Sweden, unlike other countries, they have their own breeding of service dogs. But that does not mean that the Armed Forces spit out a few hundred perfect service dogs every year. It is not unusual for German Shepherds to have problems with their hips and far from all of them have the psyche required for a service dog.
— It is a fact that we are trying to counteract by taking control of the situation. But it’s clear that it’s not easy, it’s genetics we’re talking about, says Peter Öhrling.
He sees breeding as a strategic security for Sweden. It is already difficult to find suitable service dogs – not only in Sweden. In a changed global environment, competition can become even tougher.
— Everyone is looking for the same type of dog. We know that as long as we work on this, we will have a raw material and will not have to compete with other armed forces or countries.
The relationship between handler and dog is special, says Peter Öhrling.
— The relationship is extremely strong and tightly knit when you do things together. At the same time, the dog is an instrument I use and am prepared to sacrifice to save human life.
— There are two parallel relationships.
In Belgium, just like in Sweden, the dogs live at the handlers’ homes. A typical day on the job for Stitch, a two-year-old Malinois, or Belgian shepherd, is patrolling the air base. But when the job is over, he lies on the couch with the family’s children.
Davey Slingers emphasizes that Stitch is still always a service dog to him.
— I use him as a weapon. If we encounter an enemy, I can use the dog against him.
Source: nyheter24.se by nyheter24.se.
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