The Philippine Marines on Monday activated a special unit that will be used in the campaign against terrorists and other lawless elements in the southern Philippine provinces of Sulu and Basilan.
The team, however, is not composed of elite, battle-ready soldiers, but of freshly trained Belgian Malinois and Labradors.
“K-9 will be a valuable asset to the Marine units with its senses of sight, smell and hearing that enhance detection capabilities and provide commanders with a physical and psychological deterrent to enemy activity," said Marine spokesman Capt. Alden Gwyn Amargo.
“In today’s threat of [improvised explosive devices] in the field, having an [explosive detection dogs] will complement or extend the detection capabilities of the Marines in responding to bomb threats and incidents," he added.
Amargo said the K-9 unit will be most useful in combat tracking and bomb detection operations.
The unit, composed of 12 teams, displayed its capability at the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio. Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Rustico Guerrero led officials in witnessing the demonstration.
“The dogs will be employed to help track fleeing enemies during pursuit operations following an encounter. The employment of the K-9 will enhance the Marines security operations," said Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo.
Amargo expressed confidence that the unit “will be effective for force protection and anti-terrorism counter measures."
“They expand the individual soldier’s effectiveness in the face of those that would come against him. They provide an immense physical and psychological effect when used as a show of force in day-to-day operations," added Amargo.
Amargo also said the use of these dogs will provide a “strong psychological deterrent to potential offenders," noting that these can be brought to populated areas such as airfields, shopping areas and industrial areas.