Dispatch From Downrange
A new partner, a new mission.
When I took the assignment here in Afghanistan, it was to search for hidden explosives, IEDs, and cargo bombs hidden in the trucks that enter our bases every day. While here, several explosive finds have been made stopping what could have been unimaginable destruction. I was proud of the job here and enjoyed it greatly. Living conditions vary widely depending on where you are stationed. At first I was located in Kandahar. Kandahar is a main hub and is the headquarters for the southern region or RC South. Heat, dust, more dust and pretty constant rocket attacks mark the days there. Very seldom did a night go by without the rocket attack alarm. I lived in a large tent with my dog and 20 other handlers and dogs. To say it got noisy is an understatement. I was reassigned and pushed out to Bagram AFB. This is the hub for the east region, RC East. RC East is responsible for the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) as well as the small Combat Operating Bases (COBs) closest to the Pakistani border. After a couple months here my partner reached the end of his bomb sniffing days and was retired to the Wounded Warrior program in Kandahar to become their newest therapy dog taking the place of a fallen dog lost in a suicide attack in Kabul. There is a picture of us in the last Dispatch last month.
After he was retired I was assigned a new partner. His name is Jack. He is a three year old, dark colored, German Shepherd. The big difference here is not only do I have a new dog but I also have a new assignment. Jack is a narcotics detection dog. Because of my drug interdiction background back in Gonzales, I was selected as one of the few narcotics dog handlers. We are only about 15 percent of the dog/handler teams here.
As you know, Afghanistan is on the forefront as the world’s largest supplier of opium as well as marijuana. The proceeds are directly linked to the Taliban and terrorist networks worldwide. This makes fighting the drug problem a priority. Back home I worked as the K-9 officer for the Constable’s department. All agencies in Gonzales County called on me when they needed a narcotic K-9 to assist them. I received many calls, found lots of contraband. I was doing my part to fight the drug trade. Well this is an entirely different matter. Talk about being thrown into the middle of the fight. This is the International drug trade at its core. A trend we are seeing here is the same folks that are smuggling drugs are also transporting weapons and explosives. Many are the same people and groups.
Jack and I will be moving once again. This time to a location close to the Pakistani border operational security (OPSEC) requires me to leave just where out of the article) searching vehicles and cargo just like before except our target is narcotics. The bomb dogs are right there with us so if it is there, you can bet one of our team will find it.
From somewhere in eastern Afghanistan, this has been another Dispatch from Downrange.