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Feedback from the employment of the cynotechnie

by the French Army
Operational commitment
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The dog teams are an effective capability complement in landed combat missions, defence and security actions of military installations and in search for detection of explosives, weapons and ammunition. This operational capability continues to be adapted and integrated in order to increase its operational performance in complex environments where its added value is proven.

  • 1 . Changes in the use of dog-technology by the Army

The ability of cynotechnical teams to search for weapons and ammunition has been discovered empirically since the projections in the Balkans and used very early on in support of the EOD.[1]. Through the operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan cynotechnics became an operational component of the infantry.

1-1 The use of police dogs: growing needs leading to the strengthening and reorganization of this capacity

In Afghanistan, the fight against FDI very quickly required the establishment of a cynotechnical explosives search capability for the benefit of the IATF, in support of operations[2]but also in the context of vehicle screening at the entrance to French rights-of-way. Dogs specialised in searching for explosives are used to accompany infantry sections to search roadsides in liaison with the Engineers; to protect operational bases; to protect the bases of the French Army and the French Army in the event of an accident.Forward operating bases (FOBs), the flow of logistical vectors required the permanent presence of a dog handler specialised in the detection of explosive materials.

The enemy, insurgent, trafficker, is a suitable target for search dogs specializing in search missions. Because he knows their capabilities and fears them, dog teams are targeted primarily by snipers. Stray dogs, numerous in number, serve as doorbells and can present a danger, especially hound-type dogs trained for combat.

Due to a lack of knowledge of their capabilities, dog teams may have been under-utilized by contact units, hence the need for joint training and reciprocal knowledge, which is a prerequisite for PCM. The well integrated dog teams, on the other hand, very quickly constituted an important added value for the morale of the supported detachments.

1-2 Use of the dog units in SERVAL and then BARKHANE: the ARDE capability confirms its complementarity with the engineering resources.

Dedicated to the FOS group (specialised operational search), the cynotechnical capacity engaged in Mali, either with the FOS group or with the combat sections of the Engineers qualified as FOC (FOC operational search).(complementary operational search) has brought a real added value in search operations, even if, due to particularly harsh climatic constraints, the use of dogs may be restricted.[3]This requires an air-conditioned environment (tent and vehicle - PVP) and work in a cyno team.

Explosives Search and Detection Support (ARDE) team members are integrated during operational search training courses at the Joint Ammunition and Explosives Hazardous Materials Processing Centre (PIAM ). It is therefore essential that the divisions programme joint exercises and training with the Army's ARDE teams.

1-3 On National Territory (TN) as part of the Sentinel mission

On a tactical level, the deployment of dogs on the TN proves to be particularly suitable: by allowing a variety of modes of action and making them more difficult to predict, it reinforces the deterrent effect of a patrol in the face of hostile individuals. The cynotechnical support allows a gradation of the threat and an alternative to opening fire. In terms of employment, the deployment of intervention dogs allows the 132nd Army Canine Battalion (BCAT) to train in its core business, while favouring reversibility.

The ARDE teams, which have long been called upon to contribute to the security of events on national territory, do not call for any reluctance on the part of the civil authorities regarding their use. Vigilance must even be imposed in view of the major needs expressed by these authorities. The fear of habituation, or even abuse of employment by the employment authorities, which would lead the military police dog teams to become substitutes for their counterparts in other ministries, is a limit.

The ADNH dogs[4]However, when they are used for muzzle biting or percussion, they are treated as a weapon by destination. Their use must, within the legal framework applicable to this type of engagement, in particular with regard to the use of force and the use of weapons, comply with the conditions of absolute necessity and strict proportionality. While MININT remains rather reluctant to use these dogs on the national territory in the framework of Sentinel, it is nevertheless likely that mutual knowledge at the level of the department is decisive.[5].

ADNH dogs are already being used in support of the Harpie mission (Guyana). Given the specificity of the environment, requests have multiplied and needs for protection and operational preparation have been identified118. 118 This capacity has given complete satisfaction in this compartmentalized environment with its harsh climate.

The handler and the dog disembark from the zodiac to reach the shore. For one week the handlers and their dogs from the South-East Land Zone (ZTSE) gathered at the Centre d'entraînement et d'instruction aux techniques aquatiques (CEITA) in Fréjus. The aim of the course was to train and accustom the dogs to operate in an aquatic environment to neutralize a threat.

2 . A flexible and reversible ability that continues to adapt FREE REFLECTIONS

The cyno teams' ability to discriminate is a considerable asset.[6]. The cynotechnical support is characterized by the team's ability to search for individuals based on clues, explosive devices, participate in a checkpoint, search for weapons, clear an area, support crowd control, recognize, monitor, illuminate. These modes of action are particularly well suited to a typical counter-rebellion/counter-terrorism engagement, in a context of engagements where, mixed with the population, terrorists and "regular combatants" merge.

Cyno support for crowd control, a skill that has been used in Kosovo and CAR, is a skill that is maintained at the 132nd BCAT during rotations at the Centre d'entraînement en zone urbaine (CENZUB) and is part of the prerequisites before projection. The reversibility of the dog teams is a crucial point: a dog handler masters several skills, which gives flexibility of use, unpredictability and reactivity depending on the situation (security/direct support). The dissuasive aspect of the dog produces a significant psychological effect and contributes to the tactical effect produced.

The dog contributes directly to resilience: it represents a reassuring presence for the user and/or for the environment in which it evolves, and this aspect must be taken into account each time the use of robots in place of the animal is envisaged.

On the other hand, the field of intervention of the man-dog weapon system must be exploited in innovative modes of action linked to technological developments (drones, cameras, lasers, etc.). The dog-handling pair has moreover proved to be a key capability for special operations across the whole spectrum of missions. It is also particularly well suited for use underground (tunnel research) and in confined environments (urban areas).

A detailed knowledge of police dog capabilities but also of the specific constraints generated (logistics, pace of operations in particular, veterinary requirements) by the units supported is essential. The use of dogs is inconceivable in a nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical (NRBC) environment; it is also technically complicated to envisage their use for jumps at very high altitudes. Extreme climate and difficult terrain are a hindrance to the use of dogs.[7]. The operational commitment may imply the implementation of an environment dedicated to the animal (air conditioning, protection) so that it is in the best physical conditions during operations.

Like any soldier, the working capacity of a dog is linked to the conditions of preparation and training for the mission: an optimisation of the cynotechnical training linked to theatres and environments must be favoured. Joint training and concerted procedures are the prerequisites for a judicious use of this capacity. Joint exercises allow the level of integration of units to be pushed to a higher level, pursued in joint, joint, combined and interdepartmental exercises.

While studying the implementation of certain reactive adaptations, one must nevertheless be careful not to overbid on specific equipment. The constant search for adaptation should not lead to giving priority to acquisition before defining the structures, the level of integration and the doctrine of use.


1] Operation Baliste 2006 .

[2] Reconnaissance of tunnels, caves, houses and particular points of routes .

Land Forces Doctrine Review

3] Working period reduced to 20 minutes followed by a rest period before resuming detection work.

Land Forces Doctrine Review

[4] Human Detection and Neutralization Aid, formerly Intervention Dogs .

5] In spring 2018, the 132nd BCAT conducted patrols in Châlons-en-Champagne train station to acclimatize its dogs to operate in a civilian environment. A 10-team canine detachment was deployed to Lyon at the beginning of December 2018 as part of the Sentinel reinforcement for the Festival of Lights. A sequence of acclimatisation to the urban environment was carried out upstream in liaison with the railway police in the Ile-de-France region. 118 Utility swim training and fuel search .

6] E.g.: laser target designation for the dog .

Land Forces Doctrine Review

7] Even if the shepherd breeds, which make up the canine livestock of armies, have good hardiness and adaptability.

Title : Feedback from the employment of the cynotechnie
Author (s) : Lieutenant-colonel Claire DEBEAUX