December 5, 2011 in U.S. Army
The MWD program endured four decades of peace and brief contingency operations from the end of the Vietnam era to the current Global War on Terrorism. The program remained firmly embedded in the Military Police Corps combat support, law and order, and force protection missions. In late 2001, the onset of military operations in Afghanistan provided the impetus to expand MWD capabilities in support of commanders in the field. In 2002, as a direct result of an immediate operational need in Afghanistan, Army leadership directed the establishment of an Army mine detection dog unit and embedded it in the Corps of Engineers. In 2004, as a result of cooperation between the U.S. Army Engineer School and the U.S. Army Military Police School, the Army added a non-aggressive, specialized search dog (explosives detection dog) to the MWD inventory. Combat tracker dogs are returning to Army use as well, along with a very limited number of human remains detector or cadaver search dogs. Two constants emerge in the 60-plus-year history of Army MWD use: working dogs are used in a variety of units for a wide range of missions, and the size of the MWD program has expanded and contracted over time based on the needs of the Army. In the current and projected future operating environment, the MWD program will undoubtedly expand once again.