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International military students tour military working dog facilities

Airmen help student put on arm sleeve for an MWD demonstration.

A military working dog trainer helps an international student into a protective arm sleeve to prepare for a bite demonstration at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, May 27, 2021. The visit was part of a Field Studies Program designed to show international students different U.S. cultural and historical aspects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Vanessa R. Adame)

Student plays with puppy.

An international military student interacts with a puppy during a visit to the military working dog facility at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, May 27, 2021. The visit was part of a Field Studies Program designed to show international students different U.S. cultural and historical aspects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Vanessa R. Adame)

Student tries on protective gear.

An international military student tries on protective gear worn by trainers at the military working dog facility at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, May 27, 2021. The visit was part of a Field Studies Program designed to show international students different U.S. cultural and historical aspects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Vanessa R. Adame)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – More than 50 international students recently took a break from their courses at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy for a field studies program that took them away their desks and into the facilities that house military working dogs.

The students visited the military working dog kennels at the 341st Training Squadron here May 27 in the first field studies program of their training cycle, intended to provide partner nation students with a balanced understanding of U.S. culture, society and way of life.

Students learned about the military dog selection process, witnessed a drug and explosive detection training demonstration, and learned what it takes to care for hundreds of dogs.

A few members got much closer interaction with a military canine when they geared up with a protective arm sleeve for one-on-one training.

“I wasn’t expecting such a strong bite,” said Airman Jhon Cupitra of the Colombian Air Force, who volunteered to have the working dog bite the protective arm sleeve while wearing it. “Overall, the visit was a spectacular experience. The logistics required to keep 900 dogs is impressive.”

The visit is one of two base trips the International Student Support section plans for its international students, aside from larger scale visits to the Alamo, Natural Bridge Caverns, and the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, all congressionally mandated to allow international students an aspect of cultural immersion during their studies in the U.S.

Javier Peraffán, director of International Student Support, said the experience added up to a great visit.

“It’s a good opportunity to show the students the interaction of the multitude of Department of Defense organizations working together right in our own backyard,” Peraffán said.

Two of those organizations are the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which both use working dogs as a visible deterrent to terrorism.

“As a member of the Colombian Air Force, I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the canine training center at JBSA-Lackland,” Cupitra said, “When I see a military working dog, I can tell that trainers put in a lot of work and effort to achieve these excellent results.”