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(31st Marine Expeditionary Unit)

How Marine Expeditionary Units have all gone to the dogs

Military working dogs — MWDs for short — have long partnered with Americans in war. These four-legged troops have seen a lot of action in the Global War on Terror, including the raid that took out Osama bin Laden. The dogs have long been loyal companions, and the military returns that loyalty in spades — from when they join the service to when they say farewell to the military.


Now, deployed Marine Expeditionary Units have also gone to the dogs. And for good reason: Dogs can take down a bad guy that you want to capture alive, locate improvised explosive devices or drugs, and, of course, they make for great travelling companions. They cheer up grunts and accountants alike: they gladly work for some Purina Dog Chow, a few Milk-Bones, and a game or three of fetch.

Like all Marines, these canine Leathernecks need to keep their skills sharp, even when deployed. To that end, they seen some type of training or patrol everyday. This is the case even when serving aboard a ship, like the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Just as with any other troop, readiness is the key to success.

Two reconnaissance Marines and a military working dog take security positions during a reconnaissance and surveillance mission at a Marine Expeditionary Unit field exercise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Devan Gowans

In short, MWDs are excellent warfighters with an inherent, priceless loyalty. So, naturally, MEUs, in addition to multi-role fighters, helicopters, tanks, artillery, mortars, and snipers, have some MWD teams assigned.

Below, watch one team demonstrate to fellow Marines what a MWD can do.

We've got one last question, though. Since dogs usually like to go on the grass… where do the MWDs go to the bathroom when at sea? The lack of grass does sound like a complication...

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