TYR Tactical

Archive for the ‘K9’ Category

52nd SFS Hosts International Training for Military Working Dog Handlers

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024


The 52nd Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Section hosted U.S., German and Luxembourgish military units and law enforcement organizations for advanced interoperability training at Spangdahlem Air Base, June 26.

The training challenged the communication and command skills of the over 25 working dog teams and reinforced their ability to detect explosives and locate suspects and missing persons in a variety of environments.

“The knowledge learned from the events our teams were run through today will allow us to set forth a training plan that will strengthen our capabilities over time,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Vinson, 100th Military Police (Military Working Dog) Detachment, 709th Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade operations noncommissioned officer.

The 52nd SFS staged multiple training simulations throughout the seminar including explosive scent detection outdoors and in low-light conditions, which required the use of night vision goggles, search and rescue, and suspect apprehension. The opportunity to work through cultural differences and training techniques increased the operability of the course overall.

“These are areas we all have some level of expertise in,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Fortmayer, 52nd SFS/MWD Section trainer. “As the hosts, we wanted to make sure we provided teams with realistic scenarios the dog teams could very well face, so they not only get the training, but get it in a way where we all learn something from each other as a result.”

Handlers also received instruction and hands-on practice in canine tactical combat casualty care from U.S. Army veterinarians and animal care technicians assigned to Veterinary Readiness Activity Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. Handlers practiced first-aid techniques using the Advanced K9 Medical Trainer mannequin, which is designed to simulate breathing, verbal reactions and realistic stimuli.

“To us, these dogs are much more than dogs – they’re partners,” Fortmayer said. “We care about these dogs the same way we would any of other human because they defend us with their lives. It’s critical we can help them when they are most vulnerable.”

The training included the following units: 86th Security Forces Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, U.S. Army 100th MP (MWD) Detachment at Miesau Army Ammunition Depot, as well as the German Bundeswehr, Germany’s Rhineland-Pfalz and Saarland Polizei, the Search and Rescue departments in Trier and Grand Ducal Police in Luxembourg.

SSgt Max Daigle,

52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Dark Systems Defense Unveiled its New K9 Lighstick Dropper at Eurosatory 2024

Wednesday, June 19th, 2024

Pending patent Lightstick dropper represents a significant advancement in tactical and search-and-rescue operations, offering an innovative solution for marking and tracking in various environments. Mounted on a dog’s vest, these devices serve as essential tools for handlers who rely on their canine partners to navigate challenging terrains and critical situations. The primary function of the Dark Systems K9 Lightstick Dropper is to deploy lightsticks—small, self-contained sources of illumination that can be seen from considerable distances. 

These lightsticks are available in multiple colors and infrared (IR) versions, catering to diverse operational needs.

What sets the lightstick dropper apart is its seamless integration with modern technologies such as the Dark Systems Darkmesh K9 camera system. This compatibility enhances the device’s utility by allowing handlers to monitor their dogs’ movements in real-time while deploying lightsticks as needed. The deployment mechanism can be controlled via the Advanced Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) or a remote control, providing flexibility and precision during missions.

With a capacity of about 44 lightsticks, the dropper ensures that handlers have ample resources at their disposal to mark objects, areas, or track their dogs’ paths over extended periods. This combination of durability, versatility, and technological integration makes the lightstick dropper an invaluable asset for those requiring reliable marking solutions in complex scenarios.

Dark Systems Launches the DarkFighter K9 Helmet GEN4

Thursday, May 30th, 2024

Dark Systems is proud to present the GEN4, a state-of-the-art helmet system that defines a new paradigm for equipment modularity and electronics integration without the extra weight and bulk of legacy systems.

Improved capabilities for mission optimization and situational awareness.

The product, although containing many innovations, remains compatible with accessories from previous generations: muzzles, hearing protections, optronics, strobe, etc.

“Our focus at Dark Systems has always been on the end-user – the dogs who require the best protection available. With the DarkFighter K9 Helmet GEN4 we have taken a significant leap forward in delivering helmets that not only protect our end-users but also enhance their operational capabilities. Every gram count when it comes to the gear our K9s carry. Each feature is a demonstration to our commitment to innovation and excellence in providing the best protective equipment to those who serve ».

Dark Systems is the world leader in K9 helmets. Worldwide, over 3,000 of the company’s products have been deployed to the military and law enforcement agencies, SAR and K9 handlers. Each day, they use the DarkFighter K9 Helmet to protect their personnel. Dark Systems is a company of high-level engineers and professionals committed to listening, understanding and responding to our customers’ mission-critical needs.

Dark Systems K9 Products Receive NATO Stock Numbers

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Several Dark Systems products have been assigned NATO Stock Numbers (NSNs). Dark Systems is world-leader in K9 helmets. The DarkFighter K9 helmet protects K9s in +40 countries and is used by hundreds of units and agencies. This K9 helmet is a modular system available with more than 20 accessories and modules (hearing protections, muzzles, mounts, strobe light, cameras) and offers advanced two-way audio communication in collaboration with the most famous tactical headsets manufacturers: OpsCore, Falcom, Invisio, 3M, Walkers, etc.

The products to receive NSNs are the DarkFighter K9 Helmet, accessories and payloads.

An NSN is a 13-digit numeric code, identifying all the “standardized material items of supply” as they have been recognized by all NATO countries including United States Department of Defense, and allows for any of the 31 NATO militaries to purchase the items on a “military catalogue” basis, significantly simplifying the procurement process.

The assignment of an NSN is also relevant to non-NATO customers in that it is considered to signify that the product has achieved a certain level of acceptance by the world’s most discerning military customers, the members of NATO and NATO’s allies.

Dark Systems expects that the receipt of these additional NSNs will assist its sales efforts in both NATO and non-NATO countries.


Aspetto Delivers Industry-Leading K9 Modular Vest System to the Norwegian Armed Forces

Monday, January 8th, 2024

The Norwegian Defence Material Agencies’ 15-year project seeking a tailored Modular K9 System has come to a conclusion in 2023. Upon delivery of the versatile system, Aspetto supplemented users with training and familiarization of the new kit, stimulating new and vital capabilities K9 Handlers will develop for the future.

Counter-IED operations remain a necessary tool in today’s war and continue to evolve through each conflict. With the guidance of Norwegian K9 Handlers and Leaders, team Aspetto and partners, Visual Engineering and Recon K9, developed a drop kit system that solved mission critical requirements.

This mesh-enabled TM-K9 solution emphasizes versatility across the various K9 verticals as the mission requires. GPS, IR, Thermal, and Audio functionalities allow users to communicate, locate, and gather valuable data in operation with the Military Working Dog.

The highly regarded tech is paired with Recon K9s DT alpha, ensuring proper fitment across various K9 breeds ranging in size and shape. This roping-rated vest is used globally in special operations.

The global solutions provider, Aspetto, will support Norway for years to come with its wide range of K9 products through several strategic partnerships. Aspetto invests and focuses on highly technical solutions like this to push the industry’s boundaries and ultimately protect our end users and their allies.

Aspetto has extended its global footprint to 38 countries with strategies to strengthen such partnerships and increase collaboration between nations.

Aspetto will exhibit the K9 MVS at SHOT show this month in Las Vegas. Stop by Booth #41250. Additionally, they will schedule meetings in their Venetian suite throughout SHOT – contact: ross.whitehead@aspettoinc.com for an appointment.?

Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Joins Prestigious Congressional Initiative to Advance the Medical Service Dog Industry

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024

 [WILLISTON, FL]- Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs has been selected as one of the two dozen medical service dog organizations nationwide to participate in a special initiative mandated by Congress. The primary objective of this program is to determine if the in-depth details outlined in this initiative for training and pairing service dogs meet the needs of permanently disabled service members and veterans. 

This initiative, directed by Danny Benbassat, Ph.D., Commander, U.S. Public Health Service, CofS, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and managed by the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium OTA and acting Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program integrator Jeremy Ramirez, DrPH, MPH, Veteran, US Army, Assistant Professor of Health Informatics, California State University Long Beach Department of Health Care Administration, was created to maintain safety measures to protect service dogs and the public while using data-driven decisions to ensure continued improvement within one of the most vulnerable communities these organizations serve. 

As a leading medical service dog organization with highly advanced programs and over a decade of experience, Guardian Angel Medical Service Dogs will work with other organizations like themselves to collect and share their best practices, which will then be used to refine and improve the prototype guidelines for future organizations when it comes time to train and pair assistance/service dogs with qualified service members and veterans.

“Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs is proud to have been selected for this crucial project. They have been a highly sophisticated leader in this industry for nearly 14 years, bringing forth many programs above and beyond the current industry standards, thus raising the bar of excellence with our milestones and benchmarks,” said Carol Borden, Founder and CEO of Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.

The current “prototype guidelines” will be tested by the Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs and other selected organizations where they can share best practices to refine existing guidelines, which will allow them to improve service dog programs. This initiative will evaluate the effectiveness of the suggested guidelines while examining a range of issues affecting service members and veterans with service dogs and those who train service dogs.

Once each organization has gathered empirical data on each of the protocols in this program, they will participate in focus group meetings for further discussion and analysis that will help build future guidelines and best practices related to the quality-of-service dog training, the optimal education and matching of service dogs with service members and veterans, and the safety to canines, service members, and the public.

“Our goal is to further shape the future of this life-changing, life-saving industry that deserves much more clarity and respect for the work these amazing dogs do every day. With this valuable opportunity to assist Congress, we will accomplish another enormous milestone in moving the service dog industry forward,” said Borden.

When the study concludes, the findings will be presented to Congress. Currently, it can take 2-10 years for someone to get a service dog. With the additional funding, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs will be able to hire more people and enlarge their facilities, which means they will be able to pair more dogs more quickly with veterans and service members in need. 

To learn more about Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, visit www.medicalservicedogs.org.

Home for the Holidays: American Humane Reunites Retired Military Working Dog with Former Air Force Handler After Two Years Apart

Sunday, December 24th, 2023

SSgt. Mike Alcala Adopts K-9 Veteran John in San Antonio

Washington, D.C. – This week, American Humane reunited retired military working dog John with his former K-9 handler, U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Mike Alcala, in San Antonio, Texas. The once-inseparable pair have been apart for over two years and will now be together for the holidays as John finds his forever home to live out his retirement.

The 10-year-old German shepherd served as an explosive-detection dog at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii for eight years. He retired this month due to old age, ending a distinguished military career spent protecting civilians, his fellow service members, and high-profile VIPs, including American presidents, first ladies, foreign dignitaries, and more. A special retirement ceremony was conducted in his honor in Hawaii last week to celebrate his years of dedicated service. 

SSgt. Alcala was John’s handler for three years, during which time the two formed an unbreakable bond. They were separated in September 2021 when SSgt. Alcala was reassigned to another base. The moment he learned that John would retire, SSgt. Alcala reached out to American Humane for help transporting his best friend home for adoption.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to bring military working dog John home for the holidays and reunite him with his best friend,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “American Humane is honored to help give this four-legged veteran the comfortable retirement he deserves after eight years of distinguished service to our country.”

“When I found out that John was up for retirement, of course, I wanted him so bad,” said SSgt. Mike Alcala. “I heard about American Humane through a buddy of mine, so I thought I would reach out and see what American Humane could do for me and John. They were gracious to help go pick him up in Hawaii, transport him back to me, and without me having to pay anything. It’s just been a blessing for us.”

In addition to transporting John from Hawaii to San Antonio, American Humane is also covering all of John’s veterinary care for the rest of his life.

During the emotional reunion on Wednesday, Dec. 20, SSgt. Alcala and his wife, Brittany Alcala, introduced their 10-month-old daughter to John—the newest member of the Alcala family. 


• K-9 handlers and their military working dogs form unbreakable bonds while serving our country. Unfortunately, however, they are often separated when one of them retires or is reassigned.

• When a military dog is retired from service, it can be difficult for the military to track down their latest handler for adoption, let alone figure out how to transport the dog home. The extensive process involves a lot of paperwork, headaches, and red tape, and the costs and responsibilities usually fall on the handler.

• American Humane handles the complex process of international and national transport of retired K-9 veterans on behalf of their former military handlers, who are thrilled to adopt them.

• Handlers reach out to American Humane for help reuniting with their K-9 counterparts. The organization covers the travel costs to transport the dog, as well as the dog’s ongoing veterinary care.

• Like humans, K-9 veterans often retire with health complications that require expensive medical care. The government does not cover these costs. That’s why American Humane covers all veterinary bills for the working dogs it brings home—ensuring these K-9 veterans get the comfortable, dignified retirements they deserve.

MARSOC Multi-Purpose Canine Handlers Conduct Desert Training

Wednesday, November 15th, 2023

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Instructors with Marine Forces Special Operations Command recently hosted the final phase of training for prospective Marines working toward becoming multi-purpose canine handlers for the command, Oct. 1-20, 2023.

The course, which is also used as continuing education training for senior MPCs and handlers, encompasses all aspects of requisite skills that a special operations capability specialist needs to be successful while attached to a Marine Special Operations Company. Everything from tactical movements to engaging enemy combatants is done with the canines right by the side of their handlers.

The portion of the course known as the desert package culminates all of the training the handlers and canines had been through while also shifting the environment to one that is unfamiliar.

“We have individually done all of the things we are being asked to do here,” said a student handler. “The change in environment, to something you just won’t see in North Carolina, challenges us to put it all together and really make sure we understand our dog and their personality.”

MPCs and handlers within MARSOC have a high bar to achieve. In addition to being the only special operations component that uses subject matter experts in canine handling to work on the teams, the canines themselves have more asked of them than normal.

“MARSOC really sets itself apart because we train to proficiency in all three facets of canine work,” said a senior MPC handler. “all of our dogs are capable of apprehension, or bites, explosive detection, and tracking, requiring a higher level of training”

To be able to accommodate the heightened requirements for the MPCs, the handlers are trained differently as well.

“Our handlers are not just handlers, they are trained to be trainers,” an MPC handler added. “There is a level of knowledge that goes beyond just working with the dog. Our handlers are capable of going to a partner nation and training their dogs and handlers to proficiency as well.”

Upon successful completion of the training pipeline, both students and canines are fully certified to be a working MPC team. Those teams then continue preparations to join a company and eventually deploy alongside critical skills operators and special operations officers on a team.

The multi-purpose canine handler pipeline is open to those within the 5800 military police occupational field. Interested Marines should reach out to a MARSOC recruiter to learn more about the opportunity.

Story by Cpl Henry Rodriguez II 

Marine Forces, Special Operations Command