Guatemalan Security Forces Train Dogs to Aid and Protect Troops, Civilians

Guatemalan Security Forces Train Dogs to Aid and Protect Troops, Civilians

By Dialogo
March 30, 2015








The Guatemalan Army is using 24 dogs trained to help detain suspects and assist the Military Police patrols of streets in the country’s 22 departments. The canines also detect drugs and explosives.

The Special Canine Unit (UCE, for its Spanish acronym) is responsible for training the dogs to support the activities of security forces, look for and apprehend fugitives, and search for victims in collapsed structures and disaster areas, said Infantry Second Lieutenant Carlos Michelle Manes, UCE executive.

UCE, which falls under the Military Police Honor Guard Brigade, conducts patrols with the Guatemalan Joint Security Forces, which consists of the Army and the National Civil Police (PNC).

The dogs working with the UCE are German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds or Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Labrador and Golden Retrievers.

Officials plan to triple the number of trained dogs in the next few months, said Military Police 1st Lieutenant Nathalia Mollinedo, UCE's commanding officer. When selecting canines, trainers look for candidates which are docile with children and other dogs; have a good temperament; are easily motivated by balls or respond enthusiastically to playing with targets, since that is the basis of the training.

To guarantee optimal performance in the field, the trainers must get the animals habituated to urban stimuli and to diverse environments, scenarios, and types of transportation. They must also complete obedience training, Lt. Manes explained.

The trained dogs participate in prevention patrols with the Reconnaissance Unit of the Military Police Honor Guard Brigade, which provides security in high-crime areas; they also help detect narcotics and can be deployed to arrest suspects who are running away or trying to hide. Additionally, they also work in areas where special events will occur, screening the areas prior to officials’ appearances to ensure there are no explosives.

Training starts when dogs are young


Good human resources are essential to ensure proper training for the dogs. Therefore, the UCE plans to “have personnel who are highly skilled at training canine to search for explosives and narcotics, track fugitives, and find persons in collapsed structures, who are extremely mobile and have the ability to coordinate and communicate in real time, so they can efficiently conduct all types of combat operations in support of the civilian security forces.”

Two experienced trainers who have worked in Mexico and the United States are helping the UCE, sharing their knowledge with 20 trainers. One of these veteran trainers is Corporal William Morales, who trained “Legión,” his canine partner.

Corp. Morales demonstrated Legión’s skills in an exercise UCE performed exclusively for Diálogo
. During a simulation of a criminal stealing a car from a driver ,
the 2-year-old Belgian Malinois did not hesitate when Corp. Morales gave the signal; the dog ran toward the vehicle and bit the "suspect" -- who was wearing protective padding -- after forcing him to get out of the car and lie on the ground. When the suspect managed to flee from the custody of the PNC officers making the arrest, Legión leapt at the man’s right arm and did not release him until his trainer gave the order.

Military dogs protect Troops


“The dogs’ main task is to protect the life of the Soldier, and to do that they must attack before the Military Police takes action, but this can only be achieved if the dogs exclusively obey their guide,” Lt. Mollinedo said.

Therefore, the attack commands that the dogs learn are not in languages spoken natively in Guatemala, but in German, French, and English, so the animal would not understand if a criminal ordered the dog to release him, Lt. Manes said.

The canines can begin training from 3 months to 1 year old at most, Lt. Mollinedo said; if they start later, it is more difficult for them to adjust to the training.











The Guatemalan Army is using 24 dogs trained to help detain suspects and assist the Military Police patrols of streets in the country’s 22 departments. The canines also detect drugs and explosives.

The Special Canine Unit (UCE, for its Spanish acronym) is responsible for training the dogs to support the activities of security forces, look for and apprehend fugitives, and search for victims in collapsed structures and disaster areas, said Infantry Second Lieutenant Carlos Michelle Manes, UCE executive.

UCE, which falls under the Military Police Honor Guard Brigade, conducts patrols with the Guatemalan Joint Security Forces, which consists of the Army and the National Civil Police (PNC).

The dogs working with the UCE are German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds or Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Labrador and Golden Retrievers.

Officials plan to triple the number of trained dogs in the next few months, said Military Police 1st Lieutenant Nathalia Mollinedo, UCE's commanding officer. When selecting canines, trainers look for candidates which are docile with children and other dogs; have a good temperament; are easily motivated by balls or respond enthusiastically to playing with targets, since that is the basis of the training.

To guarantee optimal performance in the field, the trainers must get the animals habituated to urban stimuli and to diverse environments, scenarios, and types of transportation. They must also complete obedience training, Lt. Manes explained.

The trained dogs participate in prevention patrols with the Reconnaissance Unit of the Military Police Honor Guard Brigade, which provides security in high-crime areas; they also help detect narcotics and can be deployed to arrest suspects who are running away or trying to hide. Additionally, they also work in areas where special events will occur, screening the areas prior to officials’ appearances to ensure there are no explosives.

Training starts when dogs are young


Good human resources are essential to ensure proper training for the dogs. Therefore, the UCE plans to “have personnel who are highly skilled at training canine to search for explosives and narcotics, track fugitives, and find persons in collapsed structures, who are extremely mobile and have the ability to coordinate and communicate in real time, so they can efficiently conduct all types of combat operations in support of the civilian security forces.”

Two experienced trainers who have worked in Mexico and the United States are helping the UCE, sharing their knowledge with 20 trainers. One of these veteran trainers is Corporal William Morales, who trained “Legión,” his canine partner.

Corp. Morales demonstrated Legión’s skills in an exercise UCE performed exclusively for Diálogo
. During a simulation of a criminal stealing a car from a driver ,
the 2-year-old Belgian Malinois did not hesitate when Corp. Morales gave the signal; the dog ran toward the vehicle and bit the "suspect" -- who was wearing protective padding -- after forcing him to get out of the car and lie on the ground. When the suspect managed to flee from the custody of the PNC officers making the arrest, Legión leapt at the man’s right arm and did not release him until his trainer gave the order.

Military dogs protect Troops


“The dogs’ main task is to protect the life of the Soldier, and to do that they must attack before the Military Police takes action, but this can only be achieved if the dogs exclusively obey their guide,” Lt. Mollinedo said.

Therefore, the attack commands that the dogs learn are not in languages spoken natively in Guatemala, but in German, French, and English, so the animal would not understand if a criminal ordered the dog to release him, Lt. Manes said.

The canines can begin training from 3 months to 1 year old at most, Lt. Mollinedo said; if they start later, it is more difficult for them to adjust to the training.




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