Cadets take the lead.

Last Thursday eleven cadets from 51 (Orton) Squadron visited The Defence Animal Centre (DAC) in Melton Mowbray. Under the friendly care of Corporal Intersole the cadets experienced some of the daily activities that the RAF and Military Police along with their dogs undertake.

The DAC is the national HQ for training of Dogs and Horses ready for service in the military, and other uniformed organisations. The centre has the capacity to kennel 308 dogs; however they are currently housing 280 dogs, consisting mainly of German Shepard’s, Springer Spaniels, Labradors and Malinois.

Each dog is trained in its own special field of either Protection or Detection. Protection is the form of dogs detaining suspects by either direct contact or the threat of, whilst detection sees the dogs being trained to search out substances such as drugs, explosives or arms.

The first visitor to our group was a 4 month old German shepherd who was one of 7 dogs being socialised before commencing full training. Each cadet had the opportunity to play with the young pup it was quickly established what strength he had and simply how DACadorable he was.

During the visit, we were introduced to a Springer Spaniel called Rio. Rio is trained to detect 7 different scents to include explosives such as TNT and Kormex. He is also trained to smell gun brasses, gun greases and components of RPG launchers. Rio was proud to demonstrate his skills, so after Cadet Kieran Peet had hidden a L98 magazine, Rio was set to work. He quickly located the magazine and was rewarded with the key training tool used by the centre a toy Kong.

DACFollowing on from Rio’s demonstration we met with Lance Corporal Whitely and his two friends Pevo and Spinner who are part of the High Assurance Search Dogs (HAS dogs). Both of these dogs are ready for Military action and are used by Engineers and Infantry men on the frontline. These dogs are trained to search vulnerable points such as compounds. ┬áPevo and Spinner are both trained in the detection of IED's and they very kindly demonstrated how under the control of a competent dog handler they worked from a 30 metre rope, moving slowly in a straight line sniffing as they go until they detect the IED. At this point, they immediately stop in a sitting position and will not be distracted under any circumstances, simply amazing.

DACPrior to lunch the cadets met with a recently trained Pointer who was trained in the art of drug detection, which with one of our cadets having been planted with some illegal substance, the young dog sniffed around the cadets until such time as he came upon our sergeant. Under the instruction of the dog handler the sergeant was asked to move around the area, and as if a magnet was attached the young pointer followed him, never leaving his side until the dog handler approached and took the situation under her control.

After a lovely lunch in the mess, it was back to work with further demonstrations from the centre’s demo dog. The handler for this lovely Malinoi was our own host Corporal Inkersole and it was lovely to see them working in action together. After setting up the DACbait, a fellow Corporal from the DAC with his arm covered in standard training protection gear, the Malinoi was set to detain the suspect which he calmly did by taking the arm of the bait and detaining him until Corporal Inkersole arrived. The dog further went to demonstrate it's fine skill of detaining a suspect who had given in and was standing still of which he completed the task by just standing in front of the suspect.

We were fortunate to see one last demonstration before the final briefing from a gorgeous black Labrador. This lovely dog showed her skills of far reach control, which is conducted under a dog whistle. She worked slowly and carefully sniffing along the fence until the substance of fertiliser was located, which is used in many explosives these days. Once again with all the dogs seen today she was rewarded with a short game using her Kong.

Each cadet had what they determined as the best section visit ever, which apart from the lovely animals was down to our excellent host Corporal Inkersole who was patient and never found anything to much trouble, and we would like to thank him and his boss Warrant Officer Bass.

If you want to develop your skills, be part of something outstanding, learn something new or stand out from the crowd, why not visit our squadron to see how you could benefit from joining the ATC. www.51sqnatc.co.uk, or email us at ortonsqnatc@btinternet.com, or you can call 07725 873 405. Or why not make that first step and come and visit our squadron on either a Tuesday or Wednesday night between 7pm and 9.15pm, just behind Nene Park Academy.