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MWD team joins forces, forge courage

Ben, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog, poses for a photo at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. MWDs provide security, crime prevention patrols, emergency response, and intruder detection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Ben, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog, poses for a photo at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. MWDs provide security, crime prevention patrols, emergency response, and intruder detection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Ben, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog, chases a toy at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. Handlers practice basic obedience with their dogs often as it is part of the dog's foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

Ben, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog, chases a toy at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. Handlers practice basic obedience with their dogs often as it is part of the dog's foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Taylor, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler and his K-9 counterpart, Ben, train at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. Taylor trained Ben on centerline drills and obedience training, which prepares him for real world missions, such as locating explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Taylor, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler and his K-9 counterpart, Ben, train at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. Taylor trained Ben on centerline drills and obedience training, which prepares him for real world missions, such as locating explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Taylor, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and his K-9 counterpart, Ben, train at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. Taylor used a dog toy during basic obedience training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Taylor, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and his K-9 counterpart, Ben, train at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 18, 2020. Taylor used a dog toy during basic obedience training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Taylor, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and his K-9 counterpart, Ben, train at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug.18, 2020. MWDs are tasked with searching vehicles entering the base to search for illegal contraband. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Taylor, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and his K-9 counterpart, Ben, train at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug.18, 2020. MWDs are tasked with searching vehicles entering the base to search for illegal contraband. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

AVIANO AIR BASE, ITALY --

A Wingman can have a great impact on protecting Airmen and their loved ones from harm. It’s a promise and a commitment between Airmen. But not all Wingmen are human.

Military working dogs and their handlers are teams that provide security, crime prevention patrols, emergency response, and intruder detection at permanent duty stations and deployed locations around the world.

Here at Aviano, MWDs are tasked with searching vehicles entering the base for illegal contraband and they also patrol the base and respond to emergencies, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Taylor, 31st Security Force Squadron military working dog handler.

Both the MWD and the handler train daily to ensure that each are capable completing the mission, but that doesn’t mean they can’t spare some time for fun.

Taylor said, although they are working dogs they still enjoy belly scratches.

The bond between a MWD and a handler is formed through various qualities such as respect, loyalty, playfulness and courage.  

An MWD and their handler must be brave, selfless, and trusting since their main mission is to locate explosives, said Taylor. Although they receive extensive training, it still takes courage to look for something so destructive, he continued.

Courage can refer to being vulnerable and counting on one another. An MWD relies on their handler to care for them on a daily basis including feeding them, cleaning their kennels and ensuring that they have all the necessary possessions to live in a thriving environment.

In the same way an MWD relies on their handler, the handler must trust the MWD as they both offer different skill sets. 

When handling tough situations, training can prove what people are made of, said Taylor. A handler should be self-critical and push themselves through training to ensure both the handler and the MWD can accomplish a tough, yet real-world scenario, he continued.

 “The MWD career field is very rewarding, but can only be rewarding if you put in the time and effort required,” said Taylor.