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AFSFC Launches Software to Monitor Health of Military Working Dogs

AFSFC Desert Defender’s kennel facilities were recently renovated. All of these improvements were focused on improving the existing kennel facility for the health and welfare of MWDs that will be housed there while attending training courses.

AFSFC Desert Defender’s kennel facilities were recently renovated. All of these improvements were focused on improving the existing kennel facility for the health and welfare of MWDs that will be housed there while attending training courses.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas-- The Air Force Security Forces Center launched the Kennel Health Assessment 2.0 project July 8. The purpose of KHA 2.0 is to ascertain the holistic state of all of the kennels across the Air Force to ensure the wellbeing of all Military Working Dogs.

“This is instrumental in our ability to communicate to senior leaders and key decision makers the data they need to make the most informed decisions when it comes to MWD readiness, health and its direct correlation to the MWD kennel facilities, which house these sensitive high value assets,” said Technical Sgt. Otho Nugent, the Air Force MWD Assistant Program Manager, who leads special project areas. “Currently there is nothing to capture the status of MWD kennels across the enterprise and we recognize this is a problem, so we have created a comprehensive solution and first ever product to get after the problem.”

The project began in 2018 as KHA 1.0 by Master Sgt. Steven Kaun, the current Air Force MWD Program Manager. It had the basic bones of the current project, most importantly the need to track the status of each individual kennel, but because of competing priorities, KHA had to take a backseat. It was revived again when AFSFC and Air Staff leadership recognized the need for this information. In this second iteration, they devised a way to assign a grade to each kennel in the Air Force system. 

The software will analyze four major focus areas--administrative offices, kennel facilities, support areas, and veterinary support. It will also analyze ten sub-focus areas and thirty-two graded areas. These parameters will be used to categorize and advocate for facility enhancements and renovations to properly support over $116 million in MWD assets. 

The team developed a custom workbook to collect all of this data. Responses were solicited from 74 field units at permanent Air Force bases, and the information that is gathered will be compiled into a dashboard that will show both individual and holistic kennel health across the Air Force. The responses are due by July 17, and it is estimated that the information can be presented within 30-60 days to senior leaders and key decision makers so that next steps can be taken to make any improvements where necessary. 

“With the proper support and funding this product can be captured, updated and displayed in a web-controlled database allowing for live and analyzed data,” Nugent said. “Funding for this directly correlates to Air Force MWD health, safety, quality of life and overall readiness.”

The product will be available for Security Forces decision makers through a secured web platform and that will allow leaders to utilize the data to invest in their home station kennels to ensure that they are in compliance with the requirements for facility care and maintenance. This is incredibly important for Air Force mission readiness.

“Most wouldn’t think that a kennel facility would have anything to do with readiness; however, this is inaccurate,” Nugent said. “MWDs are required to be housed in these facilities, and if these conditions are poor then the health of the MWDs housed within them will diminish.  Ensuring our most valuable assets, people and MWDs, have the ability to perform what they have been tasked and trained to do is at the heart of readiness.  It is our job as an Air Force to provide these basic foundational needs for our K-9s to ensure they can perform to their max potential at a moment’s notice.”

Kennels must be up to standard on sanitation and preventative health measures, including food quality, waste disposal, insect and rodent control, water supply, vaccinations, training of personnel, safety measures and additional areas. 

To effectively track this vital information, AFSFC wants to improve on KHA 2.0 and launch a more organized and professional database application that will contain the information collected and allow owner/users in the field to update the information as needed. Funding an owner/user compatible database would allow the Air Force to control and monitor the information through contractual agreements, business rules and more.

“In order to maintain MWDs we have in inventory and to continue to enlist MWDs into the Air Force in accordance with our regulations, we need to invest our time, money, and efforts into our kennel facilities,” Nugent said. “MWDs are not seen as equipment but as sensitive, high value assets that require training, love and attention to operate at Olympic levels by skilled handlers.”