Expeditionary Center bids farewell to MWD course

  • Published
  • By Capt. Brooke Brzozowske
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
Nov. 14, 2013, marked the final farewell for the military working dog courses at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, as the school graduated eight students from the 14-1 course.

The 18-day MWD Base Security Operations course and the longer 45-day MWD Area Security Operations course provided MWD teams and kennel masters with just-in-time expeditionary skills training prior to theater operations.

Since 1996, the 421st Combat Training Squadron of the EC has graduated more than 800 total students, military members and their canine companions from MWD training programs.

"The military working dog pre-deployment training has called the Expeditionary Center its home since 1996 and has served as the benchmark for several follow-on courses and locations," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Groder, 421st CTS superintendent. "The program has a great legacy, and we couldn't be more proud of the work our instructors have done here."

The EC, specifically the 421st CTS, was the Air Force's first formal training location for MWD pre-deployment training. It was also the first to incorporate helicopter operations with the Army and Marines.

"When we go downrange, we are most often assigned to work with the Army and Marines," said Tech. Sgt. Jesse Montez, MWD operations NCO in-charge. "Having that joint training ahead of time added a great element of realism and exposure to the other branches."

The 421CTS's work with the MWD program provided support to operations Noble Eagle, Iron Clad, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Iraqi Fredom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

"The things we practiced here were very much a part of our operations downrange," explained Montez. "Speaking from personal experience, when I deployed last year, everything I'd taught and learned from working with this program was applied downrange."

The course's conclusion was the first step in a bigger initiative to consolidate all stateside Security Forces Regional Training Centers including the 421st CTS's Phoenix Warrior program.

The Headquarters Air Force Security Forces Center conducted a study in 2010 to determine a more efficient method of training security forces. The study concluded consolidation of existing training locations would improve quality of training, increase economies of scale and further improve consistency. All security forces pre-deployment courses from the 421 CTS's Phoenix Warrior Regional Training Center will be taught out of Fort Bliss, Texas, beginning June 2014.

"The military working dog program has thrived here under the tutelage of our highly dedicated instructors, but it is time for the next step," said Lt. Col. Brandon Casey, 421st CTS commander. "While we are sad to see the program go, we are ready to be a part of a solution that streamlines training initiatives for the Air Force and our warfighters."

The consolidation will move three SF RTCs, Phoenix Warrior at JB MDL, Brave Defender at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Silver Flag Alpha at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., to one location. Desert Defender at Fort Bliss is designed to reduce overhead and gain efficiencies in security forces training over the long run. The MWD course is the first step in that process, Casey explained.

"There's been a ton of memories here and a lot of good training," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Bartoo, 421st CST MWD operations program manager. "Our team and the students we've worked with are part of a proud heritage, and we'll never forget where we started."