Military working dogs parade as a newly formed regiment 31 March 2010

Officers and soldiers on parade in Sennelager, Germany, practicing for the formation parade of 1 Military Working Dogs Regiment.

The formation of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment has been marked with a parade and skill demonstrations in Sennelager, Germany.

The surge in operational demand for Military Working Dogs (MWD) in recent years has seen five independent units formed. 101, 102, 103, 104 and 105 MWD Support Units have supported operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan from their respective bases in Aldershot, North Luffenham and Sennelager.

Lance Corporal Jennifer Lockhart, 28, with working Dog Baloo.

Support the lead brigade in Afghanistan

The new Regiment, under command of Lieutenant Colonel David Thorpe, formally assumed command of the five MWD Squadrons on 26 March 2010 and the Regimental Headquarters will be established in Chiron Barracks.

The Regiment will comprise 284 soldiers and officers and about 200 military working dogs and will continue to be based in three locations in the UK and Germany.

Its primary operational role is the support of the lead Brigade in Afghanistan with the provision of protection and specialist Military Working Dogs and veterinary support to the command.

Help guard and patrol key installations

The Regiment will provide a diverse set of assets which can assist in the full spectrum of military functions. It will continue to play a leading role in searching and helping to clear routes, buildings and vehicles in Afghanistan.

It will help to guard and patrol key installations to assist in the development of enhanced base security and will provide a range of other capabilities wherever they are needed in the rest of the world.

'Major contribution to operational success'

General Officer Commanding Theatre Troops, Maj Gen Bruce Brealey has taken a personal interest in the formation of the Regiment and was the senior visiting officer on parade. He said: “The formation of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment is a major step forward in the development of a key capability that is making a major contribution to operational success every day in Afghanistan.

"I am always hugely impressed by the commitment, professional excellence and enthusiasm of the officers and soldiers of the Military Working Dog sub-units; their individual and collective efforts will be focused even more effectively by their new Commanding Officer."

'Honoured to be selected'

CO 1 MWD Regt  Lt Col David Thorpe, from Horley in Surrey, said: "Military Working Dogs have been in the vanguard of recent and on-going operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and are a key force multiplier across the full spectrum of operations.

"The dog and its handler have a uniquely close relationship both in barracks and when deployed on operations. I have been immensely impressed by the dedication of all those involved and have witnessed the huge amount of time, personal effort, support and resources it takes to deliver a trained dog team onto the ground in Afghanistan.

"The formation of the Regiment is a further step forward in generating, optimising and sustaining Military Working Dog capability and I personally feel incredibly honoured to be selected as the Regiment’s first Commanding Officer.”

Private Kelly Wolstoncroft, 24, with military working dog Molly.

'A real joy to work with these animals'

On parade was Pte Kelly Wolstencroft, 103 MWD with her Armed Explosive Search (AES) dog Molly. Kelly comes from Manchester and has been in the Army for three years. She said: "It is a real joy to work with these animals.

"It gives you great job satisfaction to know that you are working with dogs who are saving so many lives in theatre." The 24-year-old also said her capability provides assurance and is a massive morale boost for the guys in the FOBs (Forward Operating Bases)

'Great morale within the unit'

Also on parade was LCpl Jenny Lockhart from 103MWD. Jenny, from Stoke on Trent, has been in the Army for nine years, three with the MWD. She said: "I love the job because you learn something new every day and there is a great morale within the unit to work with." Jenny’s own dog is Baloo, a protection dog.

Comd 8 Force Engineer Bde, Brig Alistair Dickinson said: “Military working dogs play a critical role in the campaign in Afghanistan. They work every day in the front line helping to keep our men and women secure.

"The energy and enthusiasm of the dogs is matched equally by the dedication, care and skill of the dog handlers, support team and veterinary staff. Together, they bring a unique capability to the battlefield making sure that our troops can find, avoid or dispose of improvised explosive devices.

"Every single member of the unit can be justly proud of this contribution and the formation of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment."

'Adding real value to current operations'

Comd 29 EOD & Search Gp, Col Jonathan Welch MBE said: ‘’ The formation of 1st MWD Regt RAVC is a significant milestone. It demonstrates the vital contribution that all the MWD sub-units are making to the campaign in Afghanistan.

"The provision of detection and protection capabilities combined with the wider veterinary support is adding real value to current operations, especially in combating Improvised Explosive Devices."