A Special Presentation From Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West Germany



Photo Sembach Veterans, Mid 50's.
USAF K-9 Sentry Dog, "Guardian of the Night"

With The Cold War, More Dogs
Were Needed For SAC Bases!

During the years after the Korean War, several distinct factors took place to alter the shape of the war dog program. With a nuclear buildup under way, the Strategic Air Command (SAC), as part of the now independent US Air Force increased in
size dramatically during the early days of the Cold War, as did its needs!

Missile Security, Air Police K-9.

In 1955, the US Air Force needed to obtain hundreds of sentry dogs quickly to relieve the manpower shortages, steming from the newly built S.A.C. air bases, nuclear storage facilities and specifically for the new off base missile sites.

Many new air bases were being developed and expanded at this time, but the massive fencing (rings) projects surrounding these new facilities lagged far behind. By using more Sentry Dogs, the Air Force thought it could plug the security gaps.

Dobermans Were Still Being Use In Mid 50s!

Standardization of One Breed

During World War II almost every breed of dog, large or small, was used for military service. Now it was decided to select the one breed which would be best overall for training and service throughout the world.

This breed had to meet three basic requirements:

(1) have the ability to perform all types of service demanded by the armed forces; (2) be suitable for duty in all climates and (3) be bred extensively enough to meet all possible demands. The breed selected was the German Shepherd.

Procurement Of Dogs For The Air Force

During the latter part of Fiscal Year 1955, representatives of the Strategic Air Command, SAC, Department of the Air Force, consulted the Office of The Quartermaster General relative to large scale procurement of dogs to relieve the Air Force's man power shortages.

Rare Army Air Force Photo, Craig Field, 1943,
Of 2 AAF Handlers And Their Sentry Dogs!

In the latter part of 1956, a study was made by the Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to determine the cost of operating the Army Dog Training Center at Fort Carson, Colo. and whether, in view of limited dog requirements the activity should continue. The Center was then being used largely for the training of Air Force dogs on a prorated cost basis.

On December 29, 1956, the Army announced the following decisions:

That the Army Dog Training Center at Fort Carson would be discontinued prior to June 30, 1957.

That no funds or personnel would be programmed for this activity in Fiscal 1958.

That the Air Force be given the opportunity to take over and run the dog training operation.

The Army's decision was an abrupt shift in policy, it cited little need of the dogs for its own use and said that it now wish to demobilize their entire canine force. This was presumably an economic gesture only - and a very surprising one.

A3c Jesse Cox And His Dog Cappy, Oct. 1955
At The Fort Carson Kennels, USAF Class 11

Protests: Public Support of the K-9 Program

The Army intented to keep the K-9 Corp active, but a series of misleading press releases linked the closing of Fort Carson and the Dog Training Center to the demise of the US Army's K-9 Corp program, prompting a deluge of protests from the american public and various organizations.

SiteBuilder's Note: At the time, even Fort Carson's commanding officer didn't know if the fort was scheduled to be closed or lelt opened; it wasn't until Congress passed a bill, authorizing funds for the construction of new enlisted men's barracks, etc. that the fort's officials knew they had escape the War Department's cutbacks, and even then, the news was reported in the national press first.

The following letters addressed directly to the Secretary of Defense are indicative of the feelings expressed:

"I strongly request that you re-consider demobilizing the K-9 Corps. These dogs performed a very useful service during the war as I can personally attest to, I owe my life to one of these dogs. While fighting in Korea I was attacked and one of these dogs took over my attacker and I was able to recover my footing and escaped. Please reconsider." - Submitted, Frank Coranno, West Babylon, N.Y.

Camp Carson Instructor Tests
An Sentry Dog Trainee!

"I have read in various periodicals your intention of disbanding the K-9 Corps. I am taking this means of voicing my objection to such a move.

As a Gold Star Mother, I believe I understand the meaning of losing someone close. Various reports coming back from the battlefields in WW II and the Korean Conflict have given detailed descriptions of how these wonderful dogs saved many American lives.

Please before you abandon this work; attempt to economize somewhere else and keep these wonderful animals on the job." - Submitted by Mrs. H. Distel, Garden, California.

Rare Army Air Force Photo, Dover Air Field, June
1944, Of The AAF Kennels And Sentry Dogs!

"I am writing to protest against the effort to dispose of the Army's dogs. Dogs are indispensable in our Army. I know many other persons who feel this way.

A dog has nature's own radar; his nose. He can notice things even in the dark. He is courageous, noble, trustworthy and honest. His ears are keener than human ears. He is a swift messenger. There isn't a thing on this old Mother Earth that is so faithful, so loyal, so willing to give his life for his master than a dog. Disposing of the dogs would be the greatest mistake that the Army could make." - Submitted by Wendy Bogue, Eau Claire, Wis.

Unfortunately, the US Army didn't listen...the decision to close Camp Carson's Dog Training Center had already been made!

Camp Carson Basic Obedience Training Class, Feb. 1953

Fort Carson Closure,
July 1, 1957

During 1956, 593 dogs were procured and trained for the Dept. of the Air Force. A similar procurement program was begun in 1957, but mid-way through the program the decision to close the dog center at Fort Carson was made and all procurement suspended pending establishment of suitable training facilities by the Air Force. During the fiscal year, prior to suspension of procurement, 382 dogs had been purchased and 25 classes trained for the Air Force.

The Air Force now needed to establish its own procurement and training location to continue their dog program.

Typical Mace Missile Site, USAF.

With the army's position well stated, on March 22, 1957, the air force launched it own pilot canine program using ten dogs and their handlers at several Nike sites for a trial period.

If this program was successful, the plan called for adding more dogs until a full operational complement of 300 was reached.

While the Air Force continued to expand its sentry (attack) dog program, the Department of Defense began another Austerity Program in the fall of 1957, by scaling back the number of the Army Infantry Scout Dog Platoons.

The DoD deactivated the 25th IPSD (Fort Ord, California on September 23, 1957, and eliminated the 44th IPSD (Fort Benning, Georgia), the 48th IPSD (Fort Riley, Kansas), and the 49th IPSD (Fort Lewis, Washington state) two months later.

Once again, the 26th IPSD remained the army's sole survivor as a training and demonstration unit at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Army Dogs In Overseas & CONUS Commands

In the Army as a whole, there remained a small number of sled dogs on duty in Alaska; 4 sentry dogs in the Caribbean, used to protect over 43,000 circuit miles of subterranean cable, which was valued at $2,000,000; and 250 in the Far East Command and 500 in EUCOM (European Command), plus 250 dogs scattered about in CONUS as of November 1, 1957.

From 1956 to 1957, the US Army Quartermaster Corps, now relegated to procuring dogs for the Air Force, now found itself scrambling to secure sufficient quantities of dogs for itself as Air Force requirements increased.

The Corp announced the need to acquire 1,000 dogs in Sept. 1957, followed by an urgent appeal to the public in January 1960. The army offered up to $150 for german shepherds or mixed breed shepherds to fill the Air Force quota.

The FEAF Sentry Dog Training Center, Japan 1952

The first Air Force Sentry Dog School was activated on March 10, 1952 at FEAFs Showa Air Station, Japan.  A second dog school, attached to the 17th AF, USAFE, was opened in 1953, at Wiesbaden, West Germany, at the site of a former German officers school the Hindenburg Kaseme in the Biebrich suburb.

USAFE 17th AF K-9 Center, Wiesbaden, Germany.

United States Air Force
Security Police Dog Training School,
Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas
October 20, 1958

Sensing it was time to take matters into its own hands, the United States Air Force on October 20, 1958, established the Sentry Dog Training Branch of the Department of Security Police Training at Lackland AFB, near San Antonio, Texas.

Lackland's "Dog School" and Kennels.

Eventually over 700 acres were set aside for training dogs and handlers, and more than 700 kennels were built to house dogs in training and those newly procured.

SiteBuilder Note: In the above AF photograph, the "bird cage" dog houses are the small dots, in between the building shown, and the tree line. The early design of the kennel was the same, that was used during World War II by the Army's QMC; a crude wooden box, wth the dog attached to it, by a steel chain. The entire area was separated from the main base, by a huge field, that acted as a buffer zone.

1960, the general appearance of the Sentry Dog School was still pretty much the same as two years earlier, the only major difference was that privacy fencing had been added to the kennel area, probably because the area surrounding the dog kennels was just starting to be built up. New PAT barracks had been built, as well as a mess hall and quarters for foreign officers in training; there was still a buffer zone, separating the area from the main base.

By February 1962, a shortage still existed, with another urgent appeal by the Quartermaster Corp for 560 dogs and then an additional 1,700 shepherds during the later part of '62. The QMC fell well short of this goal;  it purchased only 524 dogs and received another 92 through donations.

Lackland: The Gateway To The USAF

In June 1964, the Air Force relieved the Army Quartermaster Corps of procuring all "live animals not raised for food" ...the Air Force would now purchase their own dogs, and train them at their new school at Lackland.

Lackland AFB Basic Training Center

USAF Procurement Teams!

In a effort to attain the necessary dogs to fulfill its assigned quotas, the Air Force established twelve man teams, consisting of a team leader, a procurement officer, a veteriarian and assistant, and several dog trainers and handlers; they then went on dog buying trips around the country. Although the use of the Procurement Teams was sucessful, it also proved very expensive.

The dog candiates were given examinations on the spot, and most were purchased for $150 on average.

The US Army for awhile considered doing the same thing, but quickly realized, that it was cheaper to just purchase whatever dogs they needed from the Air Force ...for only $175.

Scenes From Lackland's Dog School, Mid 60s

SiteBuilder Note: The above photo shows six scenes from the Air Force's new Sentry Dog School in the mid sixties (from top left to right): (1) A newly arrived K-9 candidate being removed from his shipping crate. (2) The dogs were then weight in and (3) Assigned to a new handler and ready for inspection. (4 & 5) They were then quarantine from the general population for several weeks and given a thorough medical exam, before being assigned to their (6) "bird cage" kennels with the other dog trainees.

A New Type Of Dog

In the early sixties, the primary use of Sentry Dogs was base security and guarding missile sites ...they were the Air Force's "Guardians of the Night!"

The dogs, mostly male German Shepherds, were trained as attack dogs. At the time of their purchase, they were tested for aggressiveness and had to show a strong attack tendency.

They were one handler dogs, unlike the patrol and messenger dogs from WW II; they were a valuable tool in the US Air Force resource protection plan, but their use was limited to restricted, and isolated area.

Lackland Sentry Dog School, Bldg 1130

It was suggested in the mid sixties, by Colonel John A. Cady, from USAF HQ Security Police, that there was a real need for a more social dog, one that could work in proximity to people other than its handler, like a civilian police dog.

In 1966, one NCOIC and four sentry dog teams from Andrews AFB, Md., were given Patrol Dog Training by the Washington, DC, Metroplitan Police Department.

The additional advantages and capabilities of more tolerant and controllable dogs were quickly proven.

"Get Him." cried the handlers.

By 1967, the USAF approved the new dogs and the patrol dog program was initiated at the new Security Police Dog Training School, at Lackland, as the new standard AF military working dog.

The program produce dogs that could be worked in a crowded public place, dogs that could be approached by any child and petted like a normal dog, but would attack only on command.

Very quickly, the patrol dog team became a common sight worldwide, at base exchanges and commissaries throughout the Air Force.

But as we'll see in the next section, it was the Army's Scout Dogs, that became one of the U.S. most valuable tools during the Vietnam War, along with the Air Force's Sentry Dogs!


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