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Australian Air Force Cpl. Douglas Marc, a dog handler assigned to 2nd Security Forces, runs with his dog, Ajax, while performing attack drills at Rockhampton Airport, July 14. 2nd Security Forces plays a vital role in exercise Talisman Saber 2013 by providing airport security. The biennial exercise enhances multilateral collaboration between U.S. and Australian forces in support of future combined operations, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. James Gulliver/ RELEASED)

Photo by Cpl. James Gulliver

Airmen, military working dogs keep troops safe at Exercise Talisman Saber 2013

15 Jul 2013 | Cpl. James Gulliver

Australian Air Force security teams have a reputation for performing their job with the utmost efficiency. Military working dogs take the security teams’ training to the next level.

The dogs play an essential role in airport security, providing the security teams the edge they need to keep any threat at bay.

“The working dogs' tasks involve intruder detection, scent trailing, and attack work. These dogs, particularly at night, are able to detect anyone coming on or off the airfield far faster than we are able to ourselves,” said Flight Officer John Higgins, the detachment commander for 3rd Security Forces.

The dogs can pick up an intruder’s scent from over 250 yards away, making them vital during nighttime patrols, said Leading Aircraftman Lloyd Burbage, a dog handler serving with 2nd Security Forces.

The dogs can also track someone up to 2 miles away, making it impossible for trespassers to escape undetected, he said.

The Australian Air Force 2nd Security Forces are assigned to force protection duties at Rockhampton Airport for the duration of Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.

Throughout the exercise the security forces will monitor incoming traffic, preventing any breaches of security.

More than 28,000 U.S. and Australian personnel are participating in Talisman Saber, a biennial exercise designed to enhance multilateral collaboration in support of combined operations, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters.

Some members of 2nd Security Forces have had the opportunity to work with dog handling teams serving with the U.S. military providing valuable information to enhance their job performance.

“We have learned a lot from the Americans such as different dog training techniques, how to use different equipment and security techniques that will be vital in our future operations,” said Higgins, a native of Perth, Australia.

During their free time, the dog handlers will spend time getting to know their dogs, and developing a better connection with them, said Burbage, a native of Tindal, Australia.

“We really have to spend a lot of time with our dogs. The better relationship we have with them now, the more we will be able to control them in a real-life situation,” he said.

While the presence of the working dogs plays a vital role in security, their importance is also beyond a combat role.

“They really have a positive effect on morale; all our airmen love being around the dogs and interacting with them,” said Higgins.