Supporting The Troops … Watching For Danger
May 6, 2008
In the warzones of Iraq and Afghanistan, there are thousands of civilian workers, whose job it is to provide services and support for the Troops. Sometimes, those civilians place themselves in grave danger to do their work. Often, we never hear about these people and the important jobs that they do in the midst of danger.
At LSA Anaconda, located in Balad Iraq, a husband and wife team, Brad and Giray Jones and their canine counterparts, who work for K-9 Associates International, face those dangers every day. For Giray, the most dangerous part of her day is when Timer, her dog, squats. That means that he’s discovered explosives. Giray and Brad and their dogs Timer and Gromett, have traveled throughout Iraq with 1st Armored Division and 1st Calvary Divisions, in the past. They are currently at LSA Anaconda with 81st Brigade Combat Team to search for explosives and assist in the capture of terrorists.
“The way we look at it, these dogs have actually saved lives,” Brad said. “They’ve found munitions and stuff that were going to be used against people. They put people in jail who were bad guys, who would have gone out and hurt more people.”
Brad and Giray have been married for 10 years, having met during a case in which they were searching for a missing boy. Both have years of dog-handling experience and both have law enforcement backgrounds as well. Brad’s experience was in planning a K-9 unit for a police department and Giray began her work, in search and rescue. Due to the nature of their jobs, they don’t get the luxury of spending a lot of time together. They were able to spend their 10th wedding anniversary together, the first one they’ve been able to, while they were they were on the plane headed to Iraq. They said it is the best part of their jobs in Iraq; being able to be together and being able to work side by side. Their jobs in Iraq, involve more dangerous cases and utilize the olfactory senses of hte dogs, such as smelling for explosives and drugs.
“The dogs are sensitive enough that they pick up on where there were explosives,” said Brad. “If someone has been carrying explosives, the dogs will sometimes pick up on that. Even if they don’t find any, military intelligence will question the person and get good information out of them.”
Through their work, they’ve been involved in discovery of large amounts of explosives and dangerous items. Using the dogs, represents a show of force and in many cases are intimidating to people, who might be intent on attacking the base. The dogs also provide a deterrent to people entering the gates, who might otherwise attempt to do something to endanger Troops. While they work closely around persons entering the gates of LSA Anaconda, they don’t directly search people. Instead they search bags and cargo in vehicle.
“In the morning, I go over and search personnel, bags and suitcases with Timer,” Giray said. “Once I get through, I help Brad with vehicles.”
When performing their work, Brad and Giray have to be ever sensitive to cultural differences. Often people entering the area, may be transporting food in their vehicles. The owners often are concerned that the dogs are going to eat their food. However, the dogs are trained not to eat any food that isn’t given to them by Brad and Giray. Due to the nature of the dog, Brad and Giray are directly in harms way. It’s a job that they take seriously, and concentrate on watching the clues and hints that they dogs give them.
“Because of the nature of the job, the danger is to be expected. We’re there to locate it first so a larger number of people aren’t involved,” Giray said.
“We depend on Soldiers to watch our backs while we’re out there,” Brad said.
“We appreciate the support from the armed services that we get,” Giray said. “We just can’t thank those guys enough for their support on what the dogs do and also for their support on our safety. It makes our job a lot easier.”