HomeNewsArticle Display

Four-legged students to train in new ‘classroom’ designed for explosive detection

Ribbon cutting at new MWD lab.

Lt. Col. Matthew Kowalski, 341st Training Squadron commander, (left); Brig. Gen. Roy Collins, Director of Security Forces for the Air Force, (center); Dakota Riddle, 341st TRS dog handler, (right); and K-9, Rambo, “cut” the ribbon for the opening of the new Military Working Dog lab at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, May 3, 2021. The new lab is the first of six additional labs to be built for the MWD schoolhouse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maxine Ababa)

Lt. Col. Matthew Kowalski speaking with Brig. Gen. Roy Collins.

Lt. Col. Matthew Kowalski, 341st Training Squadron commander, (left), and Brig. Gen. Roy Collins, Director of Security Forces for the Air Force, tour the new Military Working Dog explosives detection lab at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, May 3, 2021. The lab will be outfitted with furniture and other items to simulate a realistic environment in which MWDs will be able to train. It takes approximately six months to train a canine in the art of explosive and narcotics detection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maxine Ababa)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — Canines enrolled in the Military Working Dog training program here now get to put their skills to the test in a new “classroom” designed specifically for explosive or narcotics detection training.

The 9,000-square-foot MWD lab officially opened its doors May 3. This is the first new training lab the 341st Training Squadron has received since 2007, and is the first of six additional labs to be constructed over the next few years.

“The mission has grown over the years and we are working to continue infrastructure enhancements to modernize our training environment for our canines and handlers,” said Maj. Tate Grogan, 341st TRS Director of Operations. 

The new lab will reduce the deficient space issues the mission has experienced since its growth, Grogan added.

The MWD lab is designed to look like an office or dormitory building with long hallways and multiple rooms equipped with furniture to create a realistic setting in which the dogs can train. Training substances will be planted throughout the lab and instructors can observe the training from the elevated catwalk area. 

The canines aren’t the only students to benefit from this new lab. Canine handlers will also gain experience and knowledge while training their dogs.

The 341st TRS executes the training of military working dogs, handlers, trainers and kennel masters for the Department of Defense. Handlers from all the military services train here.

While it takes approximately six months to train a MWD in the art of explosive and narcotics detection, an Airman, Soldier, Sailor or Marine learn to become a handler in about 11 weeks. Dogs are trained in either detection or patrol in order to detect unsafe or illegal substances, like explosives or narcotics, and also search for and apprehend aggressors. There are approximately 800 canines in various stages of training at the MWD schoolhouse.