Photo Information

U.S. Marine Cpl. William Perkins, acting as a simulated suspect and assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, Command Element wrestles with a military working dog during controlled aggression training in the Central Command area of operations, Dec. 28, 2014. The dogs and trainers conducted controlled aggression training, which is designed to teach them to apprehend and restrain a target rather than kill or seriously injure.

Photo by Cpl. Carson Gramley

Off Leash: Marines conduct controlled aggression training

5 Jan 2015 | Cpl. Carson Gramley The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Marines and working dogs with Law Enforcement Detachment, Command Element, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, conducted controlled aggression training in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, Dec. 28, 2014. 

The training is intended to teach the working dogs to maintain a certain level of restraint and precision when they have to attack a target. The dogs are trained to attack only under necessary circumstances and with a level of force appropriate to the situation.

“Controlled aggression is being able to use that dog’s natural ability to bite, [and training] them to use that to apprehend somebody,” said Cpl. Jacob Buck, a military working dog handler with LED, CE, SPMAGTF-CR-CC.

Buck explained how a dog’s bite can save lives. For instance when on a patrol entering a compound and a suspect starts to run, dog handlers can send the dog to apprehend them, sparing Marines loaded down with gear from chasing them, said Buck.

However, bite training and tactics aren’t the only skills these dogs have to offer. 

Military working dogs can be trained in a number of different special skills, to include explosives detection, drugs and narcotics detection, and human tracking.

“Instead of having Marines possibly in harm’s way and finding explosives on their own, we can find it first,” said Sgt. Samuel Harris, kennel master with LED, CE, SPMAGTF-CR-CC. “It’s better to have one Marine and a dog at the explosive than five Marines standing around it, possibly tripping it.”

The handlers expressed the important effect that explosive detection dogs can have on the mission.

“At this point in time, with the kind of war we’ve been fighting, explosive training is the most important thing. That’s the unknown, and if we can find the unknown and continue to do that maybe we can save lives,” said Harris.

Harris said the relationship between a working dog and their handler is much like the relationship a senior Marine would have with a junior Marine.

“You have to have patience, you can’t just tell a dog what to do and it just goes and does it. You have to take the steps to train it properly to do what you want it to do,” said Harris.
Buck said aside from the mentorship and training, it’s nice to just have a dog around. 

“My favorite part of being a dog handler is the fact of having a dog around,” said Buck. “You can be having a bad day or something like that, and the minute you see these dogs, it doesn’t matter if you were just there five minutes ago or away for a month, they’re so happy to see you.”

Military working dogs and their handlers continue to train every day so they can continue to save lives and accomplish the mission at hand.