(Picture: US Department of Defense).
The saying goes "it's raining cats and dogs", but the US military units stationed in Kosovo are making dogs fly.
As part of their hoist procedure training, soldiers of the US army are performing K9 hoist procedures.
Military Working Dogs (MWD) are animals that often serve in difficult missions on hard-to-access terrain.
If one of the MWDs suffers from an injury in Kosovo, the Battle Group will aid them as if it would with any other member of the squadron with a medical emergency.
To ensure that K9 units are able to receive medical assistance, the US Army stationed in Kosovo carried out K9 hoist training.
The hoist training allows dogs to familiarise with the aircraft and with the experience of getting lifted up into the helicopter. The exercise is also useful for aviators to understand what the best ways to maneuver MWDs are.
This is not the first time US troops stationed in Kosovo have undergone such training. In 2017, the Medical Aviators and Military Working Dog Handlers of MNGB-East teamed up to carry out canine hoist training with a UH-60 Medevac on Camp Bondsteel.
“We have the hoist capabilities and we can hoist up to a maximum height of 295 feet,” said MNBG-East Standardization Instructor Sgt. Zachary Smith, after the K9 hoist training in 2017.
“It doesn’t really matter where you are. We should be able to get you with the tools that we have.”
When performing K9 hoisting procedures, the dog and its handler are hoisted together using a 420c rescue device, which allows the handler to pin the canine in between themselves and the seat and therefore reduce the dog's movement.
Just like soldiers wear eye protection when conducting helicopter operations, dogs are equipped with 'doggles' - eye protection specifically designed for dogs - and a muzzle, which reduces possible stress-inducing training conditions and protects both the dog and the handler.