Securing those who secure the maps

Established in 1996, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a little-known government body that is both a combat support agency under DOD, and an intelligence agency of the United States Intelligence Community. It sprang from the old Army Map Service (AMS) / U.S. Army Topographic Command (USATC) and has some 16,000 employees, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, who are all about mapping and tracking military and strategic objects.

They just released, through ODNI, a really interesting piece on their nine Explosives Detection K-9 teams.

Clara, a 3-year-old female yellow Labrador retriever, is known as NGA’s residential high jumper. When Clara first met her partner, Officer Mike Muten, she was so excited, she tried to jump over her kennel wall at ATF

Clara, a 3-year-old female yellow Labrador retriever, is known as NGA’s residential high jumper. When Clara first met her partner, Officer Mike Muten, she was so excited, she tried to jump over her kennel wall at ATF

The first six-week phase of training focuses on imprinting, which is a form of learning that typically happens at an early age and lasts the lifetime of the animal. During this process, a K-9 is offered an explosive compound to smell, and then given a food reward. Repetition is vital, which is why the smell-eat process may be repeated up to 200 times a day.

Once imprinted, the dogs are then taught to alert their handlers by sitting when they smell the odor. At that point, the cycle of detection — smell, sit, eat — is complete.

The second phase of training, which lasts for 10 weeks, introduces the K-9 to its handler as the two begin working together to refine their search techniques. This phase is vital to both the dog and the handler, as they begin to develop their bond and learn how each team member goes about conducting such an important mission.

During this period, the handler learns the dog’s personality and tendencies, which helps them to recognize the subtle clues their canine partner cannot vocalize.

Based off a finite group of explosive components, ATF estimates there are 19,000 explosive formulations.

More here, including a ton of photos if you are puppy-inclined.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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