Fort Leonard Wood is home to a combat engineer unit that is not only unique to the Army, but to the entire U.S. Military.
The 94th Engineer Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion, is the only combat engineer unit with mine detection and specialized search dogs.
“This is the only unit in the entire U.S. military with the mine detection dog program,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Bornhoeft, kennel master, 94th Engineer Detachment.
While the origins of the Army K9 program can be traced back to World War II and again in Vietnam, the current mine detection dog program has only been around since 2005. The unit was reestablished for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, because of the influx of mines being used in combat, Bornhoeft said.
“We are primarily used for locating land mines, unexploded ordnance or other hazardous or explosive materials,” he said.
Following the example of the British army and their mine detection program, the Army initiated their own experimental program, and by 2006, the Engineer K9 Company was in full operation.
At its peak, the company had as many as 72 dog teams with 90 Soldiers in three detachments, Bornhoeft said. Now they have 17 dog teams with 29 Soldiers in one detachment.
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Featured Image – Sgt. Miguel Arciniega, mine detection dog handler, runs mine detection dog Nick through training drills for both scent and obedience. DVIDS