Home' Army News : June 9th 2011 Contents 28 FEATURES
Army June 9, 2011
THE ADF will commemo-
rate military working dogs
on June 7, one year on from
the death of explosive detec-
tion dog (EDD) handler Spr Darren
Smith and EDD Herbie, 2CER,
who were killed by an IED blast in
Spr Smith was the first handler to
be killed in action while operating a
military working dog. Herbie was the
second EDD to be killed in action --
EDD Razz was killed by an IED in
Afghanistan in September 2007.
The origin of Australian military
working dogs can be traced back to
Malaya, Borneo and the Vietnam
War. EDD teams have deployed to
Somalia, East Timor, Solomon Islands,
Bougainville and Afghanistan. The Air
Force has dog teams in East Timor.
Former RAE officer Capt George
Hulse (retd) was the first OC of the
Explosive Detection Dog Wing at SME.
"During the Vietnam War, mines,
home-made bombs and booby-traps
were being used in almost every area
of the Australian controlled Phouc Tuy
province of South Vietnam," he said.
"There was also a presence of
dozens of large tunnel complexes and
thousands of enemy bunkers dotted
throughout the province.
"The mines were killing and
wounding our troops almost every day
and the tunnels remained a lucky find
rather than the outcome of a deliberate
search. We needed something to help
us resolve both of these problems."
In 1969, the US Army began a
Mine and Tunnel Detection Dog train-
ing program and Australia wanted to
evaluate the value of dogs in this role.
Mr Hulse, who in 1970 was post-
ed to the US Infantry School at Fort
Benning, Georgia, saw dogs at work
and met with numerous animal trainers
"I was convinced that dog teams
could be trained to find explosives and
tunnels and recommended Australia
commence a Mine Dog Wing," he said.
"The wing was quickly established
at the School of Military Engineering,
and in January 1971, we recruited the
dogs, the staff and commenced training
them for deployment to South Vietnam.
"The dogs were primarily trained to
detect explosives, but proved to be very
efficient at detecting trip wires, enemy
personnel, and indicated any unusual
item, such as enemy signs along tracks,
roads, built up areas, vehicles and
Although the dogs were assessed
for combat operations in early 1972
and passed, they were not sent to
Vietnam because Australia had with-
drawn from the war.
Today's EDDs are deployed to
Afghanistan where they are searching
for explosives, weapons and ammuni-
tion.EDD handler LCpl Shaun Ward,
2CER, said handlers developed a
strong bond with the EDDs, especially
during deployments spanning six to
"They are someone you can always
rely on to be there," he said. "You look
after the dog before you look after
yourself and they sleep in our swags
"All of our searching is off lead so
the danger for EDDs varies depending
on what they find and how it's placed.
"We have lost two dogs due to
blasts, but the handlers do their best to
read the dog and know when they have
found something before they're right
on top of it."
have their day
Australian military working dogs are contributing more than ever
before in Afghanistan, but the capability was raised in a different time
for a different operation, Cpl Zenith King reports.
Best friends: Spr Darren Smith and EDD Herbie
were killed in action in Afghanistan last year. Inset,
Australia's military working dog capability was first
raised in the late stages of the Vietnam War.
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