- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
The British Army just debuted its new elite fighting force — the Force Troops Command (FTC). Soldiers from the new wing offered a preview of their specialist capabilities in a series of demonstrations this week at Upavon Airfield which included “infantrymen, divers, medics, artillery units, missile specialists, chefs,” and, yes, dog teams.
Handlers like Private Terry Gidzinski and his MWD Cheyenne (pictured above) were there to show off their skills. In this photo, the pair is relaxing, but in the photos below Gidzinski and Cheyenne (along with Corporal Kelly Wolstencroft and her MWD partner Tran) are demonstrating their teams’ capabilities — what I would guess would be combat-ready tactical drills and bite work (though the photo captions don’t specify).
According to the British Army website, FTC will be fully operation as of April 1 and will eventually be composed of “nine ‘functional’ brigades” including:
A new Intelligence and Surveillance Brigade will deliver integrated intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, drawing specifically on lessons from Afghanistan. A new Artillery Brigade will deliver both close support artillery and precision fires, as well as leading Air-Land Integration. 8 Engineer Brigade will expand to command the close support engineer units, as well as Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search, Force Support and Infrastructure Groups.
So, the war-dog takeaway? The British Army appears to be readying itself to put to (perhaps even better) use the lessons of Afghanistan, meaning that it fully anticipates engaging an enemy in asymmetric warfare. Which means IEDs — as JIEDDO head Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero called them in 2012, the “weapon of choice by threat networks” for decades to come. Which means, of course, explosive-detecting dog teams are going to come in handy.