MWD Training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Juliana Londono
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force 9th Security Forces Squadron military working dog (MWD), Sofi, has been at Beale for almost 4 years. Sofi is 6 years old and her handler, Senior Airman Kiersten Vignere, 9th SFS MWD handler, has been working with her for around 4 months.

MWDs like Sofi first arrive at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, where they get 120 days of training to include basic commands, how to recognize target odors and basic bite and patrol work. After this training, the dogs leave and head to their bases when at around 2 years old.

During her 4 years at Beale, Sofi had two previous handlers before working with Vignere. As a MWD handler, Vignere’s job with Sofi involves a lot of training to keep the dogs proficient at the tasks they need to complete. They participate in explosive detection and patrol work training. Sofi has problems set up for her weekly to work on such as trying to find an explosive component or a scenario where she has to bite a decoy in a suit to keep up her proficiency.

The MWDs and their handlers are an integral part of keeping the base secure and they also play a significant role in strengthening community ties by educating the local populace through demonstrations conducted at events off base. Sofi and her handler are a prime example of the Air Force’s common saying “train like you fight” as these trainings keep them prepared for both emergency home station and deployed environments.