26 October 2006

Anti-Terrorism Tools: Fido to the Rescue...

One of our most effective "Anti-Terrorism" sensors may be the nose on your favorite breed of canine. Dogs are being trained and their careers are sometimes being diverted from helping the blind, to helping the general public detect the possible signs of a terrorist event in the making.

TATP is triacetone triperoxide, one of the more common liquid peroxide explosives, the kind used in last year’s London transit system bombings and found hidden in the sneakers of the would-be shoe bomber, Richard C. Reid. Experts say peroxides have become terrorists’ explosives of choice, and government agencies are trying to detect them before they are carried onto buses, trains and airplanes.

The TSA Puppy Program has been around for several years and continues to be one of our most low tech, highly efficient tools in the counterterrorism arsenal.

Our National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program prepares dogs and handlers to serve on the front lines of America’s War on Terror. These very effective, mobile teams can quickly locate and identify dangerous materials that may present a threat to transportation systems. Just as important, they can quickly rule out the presence of dangerous materials in unattended packages, structures or vehicles, allowing the free and efficient flow of commerce.

Law enforcement officers from all over the country travel to the our Explosives Detection Canine Handler Course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas where they are paired with one of our canine teammates . These dogs are bred specifically for the program by our puppy program, also at Lackland AFB. German Shepherds, Belgian Malanoises, Vizslas and other types of dogs are used in the program because of their keen noses and affinity for this type of work. In addition to providing a highly trained dog and handler training, we provide partial funding for handler salaries, care and feeding of the canines, veterinary and other costs associated with the dog once the teams return to their hometowns.

After dog and handler are paired up, the new team completes a rigorous 10-week course to learn to locate and identify a wide variety of dangerous materials while working as an effective unit. This training includes search techniques for aircraft, baggage, vehicles and transportation structures, as well as procedures for identifying dangerous materials and "alerting" or letting the handler know when these materials are present.

Deutsche Bahn, the German Railway Authority continues to test biometric technology using face recognition as a deterence and detection strategy. This testing is a result of a foiled or aborted plot to bomb German trains during the World Cup last summer. We find it hard to believe that terrorists with their pictures in the database will be the actual assailants carrying a backpack or wearing the explosives.

Let's keep our "Canine Corp" growing so we can make sure they are making their rounds in every train station in every major metro city on the planet. It's imperative if we are to keep our defenses at the highest level of detection in the days and years ahead.

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