WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE,Mo. --
A new Airman arrived fresh from basic training at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Aug. 7, 2020. Unlike most Airmen, he walks on four legs and has a tail.
U.S. Air Force Military Working Dog Oscar, assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, is a two year old Belgian Malinois and a recent graduate from the Military Working Dog Course at Lackland AFB, Texas.
The MWD course is the basic training for dogs and takes about 120 training days to complete, but can be more or less depending on the dog.
“I was a trainer at Lackland AFB for four years,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kyle Tredway, 509th SFS MWD kennel master. “Some dogs would go through really fast and other dogs would just take longer to learn. It really depends on the animal. During the course, the dogs have 65 days for substance detection and 55 days for patrol training which is their bite work and basic obedience.”
Oscar’s first day at WAFB consisted of meeting his trainers, getting used to his new surroundings and receiving a health and wellness check-up from the Veterinary Clinic on base.
“Our biggest concern is making sure that Oscar is healthy and that he acclimates to Whiteman, like any new Airman,” said Tredway. “We want to make sure that he is mentally ok to be here because it’s a big change for him.”
After Oscar has a chance to learn his surroundings, the MWD trainers will start his Field Transition Evaluation.
“What we will be looking for in this initial evaluation is a base line of where Oscar is in his training,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Vanney, 509th SFS MWD trainer. “This shows us if he has any weaknesses we can improve on and any strengths we can mold and do more advanced training on.”
Oscar has 75 calendar days to complete this evaluation before being assigned a handler.
“Choosing the handler is solely up to me and my trainers,” said Tredway. “We want to determine who will be the best for him as a teammate. It’s not just an individual and a dog, they have to work together as a team. Most patrols will have backup, with MWD teams the dog is the backup. So we need to make sure that they can work together.”
Once Oscar is assigned a handler, they will spend time together during what is called the rapport stage. The whole goal of this stage is to build a bond and partnership.
“I love working with new dogs,” said Vanney. “Having a new dog is like having a fresh slate. It’s really neat to see them go from the basics, then move through the more advanced stages and then seeing them become mission capable.”
Oscar will be 100% mission capable after completing his initial evaluation and training with a handler. His main mission will be the overall protection of WAFB.