How the Marines develop their sophisticated canine force is also informed by the past. More than 4,000 dogs were deployed in Vietnam—more than in any US combat area. Today’s specially trained dogs are part of the Marine Corps and work step-by-step with their handlers. They are relied upon to detect bombs, and they do so more accurately than equipment can.
Pendleton is where K9 obstacle training begins, and where dogs and their handlers develop their bonds—bonds that save lives. Dogs and handlers have a fundamental level of respect, and their successful teamwork often requires wordless interaction. Commands, training, and skills are carefully developed over time, and with the use of lifelike villages that have been created to mimic actual locations, such as in the middle East. When these dogs are trained to detect bombs, they do so in environments that will not be “foreign,” and include ambient sounds, smells, and visual cues accurate to the cultures in which they will be deployed.