Shortage of military working dogs poses national security risk, report warns

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A nationwide shortage of military working dogs threatens national security, a recent report from the US Navy’s Naval Post Graduate School warns.

“Although working dogs are not officially part of the current defense industrial base, the low national production capacity of working dogs threatens some of the government’s abilities to provide national security,” the researchers wrote in the report. . “Of the dogs in the current workforce, approximately 90% were bred overseas.”

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Military working dogs are normally one of four breeds: German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherd or Labrador Retriever. Many are imported from Europe.

U.S. Army Spc. David Sheriff of the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division plays with Ddagmar, a military working dog, at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq , May 29, 2020. (US Army/Cover Images)

Their tasks include detecting explosives, searching for drugs, and tracking enemies.

“For years, much of our science and technology has tried to replicate the work of these dogs. Their scent glands are 10,000 times more sensitive than any equipment we have been able to develop. detection they do, a dog finding explosives or drugs, that will never be replaced,” said Maj. Matthew Kowalski, commanding officer of the 341st Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio, according to the report.

The shortage of domestically bred military working dogs has been a problem for decades, as American breeders find it easier and more rewarding to focus on show dogs and service dogs, the report explains. The researchers recommend that the federal government subsidize new breeding programs in exchange for priority over the purchase of working dogs.

The American Kennel Club’s vice president of government relations, Sheila Goffe, highlighted the issue in a Military Times op-ed.

U.S. Army Sgt.  Michael Ramirez fires his M4 carbine with his military working dog beside him during a live-fire exercise at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 8, 2020. (US Army/Cover Images )

U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Ramirez fires his M4 carbine with his military working dog beside him during a live-fire exercise at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 8, 2020. (US Army/Cover Images )

“The Department of Defense maintains a modest breeding program at its kennels at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, far from sufficient to meet domestic demand,” Goffe wrote.

“The supply of competent working dogs from foreign sources continues to tighten. The threat of terrorism and the resulting demand for working dogs in Europe and around the world means that there is a growing shortage of foreign dogs, even of mediocre quality, available to protect the United States”. she continued.

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Congress approved a $694.6 billion defense spending budget for fiscal year 2021. Earlier in March, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee wrote a letter to Biden asking him to increase the defense budget. next year’s defense of 3% to 5%.

“Years of defense cuts linked to the Budgetary Control Act (BCA) have undermined military preparedness, set back force modernization efforts, and given our adversaries time to gain significant advantages that now put in jeopardize our military superiority,” the letter from eight GOP lawmakers, led by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., read.

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.

Bette C. Alvarado