Airmen, K-9s get explosives training

Airmen and their K-9 counterparts, along with dog teams from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, received homemade explosives (HME) detection training from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents here Oct. 5-6.

The training consisted of explosive compound awareness for handlers and trainers, imprint training for dogs (imprinting is exposing a K-9 to an unfamiliar odor and training the K-9 to alert to the odor using rewards), and culminated with detection testing for teams at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

“The training give us and our dogs a more broad-scale ability to find explosives, as well as see indicators for HME labs,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Keilman, 75th Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer. “It’s important that we understand the materials we could possibly be subjected to and that we know our dogs will find as many explosives as possible.”

Keilman and ATF Special Agent Rennie Mora worked together in coordinating the training session attended by explosives handlers from the Department of Homeland Security, Salt Lake City Airport Police, Provo (Utah) Police Department, International Health Care Security, 366th Security Forces Squadron from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and 75th Security Forces Squadron. A five-person ATF team conducted all training and testing.

According to Mora, most agencies don’t have access to the testable materials, but ATF does.

“It doesn’t matter what agency you work for, all K-9s should be properly imprinted on all explosives,” he said.

After this training, all Hill AFB military working dogs are now trained on HME detection, and information on the ATF website shows that their National Canine Division has successfully imprinted over 3,000 Defense Department military working dogs on HME.