Cpl. Jesse Makela, a dog handler with the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward) Military Police Support Company is brought brought down during practice by a military working dog aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Sept. 24, 2009. The MPSC has only existed as a unit for one year and has spent the better time of it deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lance Cpl. Jason Hernandez, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward)
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – Throughout the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. military has committed a great many resources to the restoration of law and order within the borders of Iraq.
Recently added to the long list of units which have come and gone through Iraq is the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward) Military Police Support Company, a unit whose task, among others, is providing military units in the Multi National Force – West area of operations with the additional resources necessary to accomplish their goals and missions.
The unit will be a year old on Oct. 1, 2009.
But, despite the unit’s short time in existence, it holds within its ranks many service members with years of experience in military policing and operating with military working dogs. It is this characteristic which has allowed the unit to celebrate the summation of its first 365 days in service with pride.
“Since our unit’s formation and deployment, we have assisted the MHG in the accomplishment of its mission,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffery J. Worley, the training staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the MPSC. “Whether it’s been going on missions or simply having a canine unit available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The MPSC has other responsibilities in its new and unique roll. As a new unit, it receives missions that were once completed by various other units. These new tasks include maneuver mobility support missions, law and order operations, antiterrorism-force protection operations and area security operations.
With a constantly shifting tempo of operations throughout Iraq, the MPSC finds itself evolving to better meet the new challenges placed before them on a daily basis. All the while, when they’re not doing missions, they’re working to become better Marines and preparing for whatever surprises may lay ahead.
“The unit has done an amazing job out here,” said Worley. “Even with the number of missions going down, we’re still hooking and jabbing. Whenever we’re not out and about on convoys or outside the wire, we’re completing Marine Corps Institute courses and studying up on military studies.”
Their record speaks for itself.
With several of the Marines earning meritorious promotions to corporal and the unit, as a whole, completing work on a military working dog training camp, the MPSC has managed to stay focused while other units have steadily withdrawn from the Iraqi theater of operations.
Another unique aspect of the unit is its capabilities. From tracking dogs and bomb sniffing dogs that can operate far from their handlers, to the well-trained military policemen who operate beside them, the unit has become more adept in the use of canines.
Part of the reason the dogs and their handlers are so close, is their training. During their handler training, many of the Marines are paired up with a dog. Those dogs are trained by their handlers even as their handlers are being trained themselves.
After their specialized training, both handlers and dogs graduate together and go on to their first duty station.
“Training the dogs ourselves helps us fix a lot of problems before they even become problems,” said Cpl. Steven Feliciano, an MWD handler with the MPSC. “Many, not all, go through this with their dogs. It helps to build a better team.”
As their first year as a unit draws to a close, the men and canines, which comprise the Military Police Support Company, can sit back and reflect on a year of proud service. Few units can say they’ve completed as much within their first year of existence. Not only have they completed their first year smoothly, but they’ve done so where the stakes are very high…forward deployed.