Military working dogs (MWDs) are more than just a soldier’s best friend. Sometimes, they are our troops’ most valuable teammates on combat operations. They are frequently called upon to protect our soldiers in harm’s way. They have earned a stellar reputation during the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. They’ve also won respect among our enemies. 

Military working dogs are force multipliers. They have provided American troops with the confidence that they won’t be entering an area that the enemy has sown with IEDs.

In a piece by the U.S. Army, CPL Dustin Borchardt said dogs give soldiers peace of mind. 

“Knowing there’s an explosive trained dog here helping keep everything safe is a big morale booster,” said Borchardt in reference to his MWD Pearl. “She’s definitely spoiled by the people on camp.”

Recently, one of the Army’s dogs was decorated by Brigadier General Larry Q. Burris Jr., director, CJ3, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Inherent Resolve, Iraq. 

Fritz, a four-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Malinois working dog for the Army and his handler, Sgt. Michael A. Ramirez were both awarded the Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM), with a “C” device, denoting that the award was earned in combat. Fritz and Ramirez, who are assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, uncovered a cache of IEDs in Syria. 

Stars and Stripes was the first to report on the story of Fritz and Ramirez. The pair was on patrol, along with a civil affairs team, clearing a route late last month. Then civilians came forward, telling the team of “enemy remnants of war” in an open field.

“While clearing a lane to get to the remnants, MWD Fritz veered to an area outside of the field, where he showed a recognizable change of behavior near a mound of bushes, which resulted in the location of an explosives cache,” SSG Lewis Frederick, the military working dog program manager for Operation Inherent Resolve, said to Stars and Stripes.

Fritz was trained and became an Army working K9 in September 2018 at Ft. Carson, CO. There are different functions that working dogs perform. MWDs are categorized into Single-Purpose Working Dogs, Dual Purpose working dogs, and Multiple Purpose Military Working Dogs. Recently in SOFREP, we highlighted the different tasks that Single-Purpose, Dual-Purpose working dogs, as well as Multiple Purpose working dogs that are usually assigned to Special Operations units, can conduct with their handlers. 

Frederick added that the find by Fritz and Ramirez was the first of its kind since 2018. Inherent Resolve’s official Twitter account posted a photo on Twitter on December 18, showing Brigadier General Burris presenting Fritz’s award certificate to Ramirez after posting a picture of Fritz having the ARCOM pinned on his collar. 

“For exceptionally meritorious achievement,” the official award stated. “Military Working Dog Fritz’s unique abilities were vital to the accomplishment of the security and force protection mission.”

Congratulations to Fritz and Ramirez on their award and for protecting the troops assigned with them.