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Military Working Dog Handler Commended

Military Working Dog Handler Commended by Chief of Defence Force

Since arriving in New Zealand from the United Kingdom six years ago, former British Army Warrant Officer Alan Inkpen has worked tirelessly to introduce, train and maintain military working dogs for the New Zealand Army.

That effort has now been rewarded, with Mr Inkpen receiving recently a Chief of Defence Force Commendation for his work.

One of the first tasks on arrival in this country for Mr Inkpen, a New Zealand Army Military Working Dog handler based at Trentham, was to introduce the explosive detection dog capability to meet urgent operational needs in Afghanistan.

In late 2012 he deployed to Bamyan province to conduct in-theatre certification of dogs and their handlers, known as Task Group Crib, under operational pressure. This enabled the group to make an important addition to its force protection resources at a critical time.

Since then he has become the New Zealand Defence Force’s Military Working Dog subject matter expert and has been pivotal in developing and managing this capability in New Zealand.

He has spent much of his time developing and managing the interim explosive detection dog capability for the Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment, and in 2013 supported the deployment of teams to the Solomon Islands to help clear explosive devices left over from the Second World War.

He has also played a significant role in enabling Special Operations Command develop the own Military Working Dog capability to support Special Force operations.

“I feel this commendation also recognises every New Zealand Army Military Working Dog handler, past and present, for their support and commitment as each capability has been developed,” Mr Inkpen said.

“These individuals are the ones behind the scenes who ensure the welfare and husbandry of the canines. This is the fundamental and most critical part of being a military working dog handler and is carried out 365 days a year, irrespective of the weather conditions.

“The sacrifices the handlers have made cannot be underestimated – people only see what they perceive is the fun part as the teams carry out their operational roles.”

The Army’s Military Working Dogs programme was still developing and had a lot of work still to do, but the most important thing was that it was moving forward each day, he said.

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