RAF Halton Top Dog

  |  Published: Jul 8th 2015
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RAF Halton dog handler, Corporal Will Hughes and his military working dog (MWD) Sadie, won the ‘Wind Scent Trial’ in the RAF Police Dog trials at RAF Cranwell by a significant margin. Will was also awarded the Provost Marshal’s Dog Inspectors’ Award during the event.

The trials are the culmination of months of technical evaluation carried out across the UK by the Provost Marshal’s Dog Inspectors, with only 12 patrol dogs and their handlers making the grade to compete at these national finals.  Flight Sergeant Steven Hancox, the Provost Marshal Dog Inspector, has been up and down the country since February leading the technical evaluations, he said: “This year is particularly special as we haven’t had the trials for a long time. It takes a lot of hard work to be selected to compete so this event means an awful lot to everyone taking part.  To win it is truly special.”

Corporal Hughes reflected on the heats and said: “It’s been a good trials this week and as one of the more experienced handlers here, I’ve been helping the younger competitors.  My dog Sadie is eight years old now and she did suffer with the weather a little this week. I’ve worked with her for four years so she’s like my little girl.”

The event sees fierce competition from all RAF Police dog sections and despite the heat, which had affected the dogs, they were all clearly keen, alert and professional. The competitors were joined on the Saturday by the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Andrew Pulford, most Provost Officers and their families, and the retired RAF Police Dog celebrity ‘Buster’; the official lifetime mascot of the RAF Police, who won the Crufts Friends for Life Award and was nominated for the prestigious Sun Military Award and holder of at least three operational medals.

The trials were the first to be run for five years due to the previous demands of protracted deployed operations and they are a culmination of testing and evaluation over several months, which result in the best dog teams in the RAF Police competing for top spots during the week culminating on Saturday. The first MWD trial took place at the RAF Police Depot, RAF Netheravon in May 1957.  The purpose of the trials was to improve standards across the RAF Police Force and encourage handlers to take an active part in improving their team's standards of efficiency; the same as it is today.

The RAF Police have a long and impressive history in the use of dogs to support our law enforcement, Counter Intelligence and Protective Security outputs.  MWDs have been a significant security enabler since the Second World War and have operated worldwide to support the delivery of air power and wider defence activity.  Recently, RAF Police dog teams have performed with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan utilising a range of capabilities including security patrolling, tracking, drug detection and most significantly, explosive detection. MWD capability is inherently flexible and has been developed to meet a wide range of operational requirements.  These generally fall into the categories of protection and detection and may be employed in an overt or covert manner.  MWD capability is a Force Protection force multiplier that provides deterrent, but is also able to detect and detain using less than lethal force through a range of capabilities including arms and explosives search, drugs detection, tracking and patrolling.

RAF Police dog teams continue to operate in Diego Garcia, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands supporting current operations and defending our overseas territories.  Moreover, they continue to protect the RAF’s critical assets in all weathers every day.

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