Security Forces Center dog teams answer call

  • Published
  • By By Vicki Stein

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas - Coordinating schedules for military personnel can be a challenge.  It takes scheduling prowess of a much higher level when you have to schedule a mix of Airmen, soldiers and sailors and their military working dogs to support missions around the world.


When Secret Service agents need Explosive Detection Dog, or EDD, teams to supplement forces, they call on the Air Force Security Forces Center to identify resources across the Department of Defense that can handle those assignments.


As the DoD Coordinating Agent for the program, AFSFC receives those requests and works with all branches of the armed services to determine which units, handlers and dogs will partner with Secret Service teams.  The EDD teams are then tasked to secure facilities and event areas that host the President and Vice President, Secretary of State and other senior leaders.


A team of two Airmen, MSgt Aaron Southiseng and MSgt Aaron Hodges, are the mission planners for DoD EDD taskings for Secret Service missions both stateside and abroad. Hodges started working with Southiseng a month ago.


“It is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job,” Hodges said. “With only two schedulers and last-minute requests which sometimes need teams available in 24 hours, we are on call all the time.”


With such a high ops tempo, Southiseng and Hodges use military working dog assets from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy.  While the Air Force carried the lion’s share of FY17 worldwide requirements at just over 50 percent, the program could not have been successful without the support of the other services.


The team’s workload in 2016 was the most active year as they coordinated more than 650 requests.  In 2017, they worked 366 requests amounting to more than 180,000 man and dog hours.


Southiseng said they scheduled less missions this year, but those missions required more EDD teams and were longer in length. 


Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma both created some scheduling challenges due to weather constraints, accessibility to the locations and the availability of dog teams.


“We had requests to cover the Austin-Houston area, Corpus Christi, and then suddenly they were needed in Louisiana, and the three teams kept getting extended out,” Hodges said of their mission after Harvey.  “We lucked out with one Navy dog team in Kingsville, Texas, that was in the area and able to assist.”


After Irma, Hodges said one of their challenges in Florida was Navy kennels that would usually provide room for the dogs were evacuated, so they had to find other places to house them.


By using the nearest EDD team available in relation to an event, the AFSFC is able to efficiently and effectively accomplish its EDD mission. 


Wherever the teams are required, Southiseng and Hodges must also work with bases that need the teams for other missions, which gives the dogs a higher ops tempo than most Airmen.

Air Force Security Forces Center DoD Explosive Detection Dog Teams Mission Support for FY2017