Originally published in the Daily Post
A DOGGED canine discovered deadly explosives while helping to clear mines in Afghanistan.
Oslo, a four-year-old Belgian Shepherd, helped to detect and destroy a 20 kilogramme IED (improvised explosive device) – enough to kill or injure soldiers – whilst on patrol in Helmand Province with his trainer, 28-year-old Lance Corporal Darren Evans from Welshpool.
An Afghan National Army patrol had reported seeing bits of wires sticking out of the ground.
He found the improvised explosive devices, designed to be undetectable, after the robot that normally detects packages came back with nothing. They almost turned back to base, but decided to send Oslo out as a precaution.
Oslo was searching for 25 metres, when he started to bark and mark a point for the soldiers.
His trainer, L Cpl Evans from 102 Squadron, 1 Military Working Dog Regiment, said: “It must have only taken a minute, maybe two, for him to find it, mark it and come back when I called him, but it felt a lot longer.
The former Welshpool High School pupil said: “It is very quiet when he goes out. Every time he sniffs something for longer than a previous area you are wondering if he has found something.”
The device Oslo had discovered was a low metal content pressure plate – designed to miss detection by the Army’s metal detectors. It takes just a 5kg explosive to injure or kill a solider on foot patrol.
“Initially I was bit nervous in case anything happens. With all the training the working dogs go through you know he isn’t going to miss anything, but you never know what is going to happen. It’s still your boy you are sending out.”
“It does make you feel like you have made a difference when you find a device. If Oslo hadn’t found it then someone could have stepped on it, so I was very proud of him.
“He was happy to get his toy – which is his reward. It’s all he wants.”
Darren trains with Oslo for two hours a day, and returns to Camp Bastion every four to six weeks to ensure no skills are lost.
Despite becoming best friends, Darren knows, that when he leaves Afghanistan in three months, Oslo will remain to continue searching.
“I would like for him to come back with me, but he is a good dog so there is a strong possibility that he will stay out here for another handler and hopefully find more IEDs. The guys have confidence in Oslo, they’ve seen him work and he is a really good dog.”