Page 30 - Chiron Spring 2018
P. 30

It was shortly after arrival in Germany in September 2001 that I received some eagerly awaited news, I was to get my first Operational Tour, 2 years in NI notwithstanding, after serving for twelve years in the RAVC. This was not through lack of trying, I had been lucky to have had several postings away and had therefore missed the opportunity.
Having served for 4 months in Germany, the transition from one winter wonderland to another was not too bad, although admittedly, it was several degrees colder on arrival at Pristina airport, along with my Arms, Explosive Search Dog Floyd, a Border Collie approximately 4 years old.
The scenery, enveloped in snow as it was, was breath-taking. The Camp, Slim Lines, was a purpose built camp on the outskirts of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and consisted mainly of Cori-Mecs ( Converted Iso containers) , built around a network of wooden walkways.
The Dog Section was, as is usually the norm, slightly away from the rest of the Camp, tucked away at the back, which was great as it gave us a lot more privacy and people tended to leave us alone. The Unit itself consisted of a Veterinary Officer/ Unit OC, an RAVC Senior, who ran the Unit, 2 AES Handlers, 2 VS Handlers and approximately 8 Regimental Protection Dog Handlers from both the Regular Navy, and the Army who were all TA. The OC/ VO was also in charge of the Dog Unit in Bosnia, so spent a lot of their time flying between the two countries in what one of them once described as “ One up from a Sopwith Camel”
I was to take over as the second Arms, Explosive Search Dog Handler, the only 2 British Army AES Dogs in the country. Our remit was to assist any Unit, both British and foreign, under the KFOR Flag, for both offensive and defensive searches for illegally held weapons and explosives. Most of the tasks involved searching properties, homes, factories, even open areas.
The workload for the AES Handlers was relentless. The ruling was that if the tasking was in Pristina itself, we could drive ourselves to the location, armed with our trusty Browning 9mm Pistol and ten rounds, meet the tasking troops and carry out the search. But if the tasking was outside Pristina we had to have an escort in the vehicle, so unless there were two separate taskings on the same day, both handlers would go together, as escort and to assist if necessary. This meant that ultimately I had just one day off in the whole six months I was there with some days being up to 18 hours long, but I loved it! Even getting up at 3.30 in the morning to be on 6 am briefings before a search became quite routine.
I was luckily enough to work with the Swedish, very polite, friendly and hardworking, the Finnish, amiable but quite abrupt in their manner, The Norwegians, again friendly but slightly
Kosovo – Jan – Jul 2002
By Sgt David Dingsdale
stand offish, the Americans, so laid back they were horizontal, as were their dogs, the Hungarians, whose dogs were not as good as ours! the Welsh.......
The outstanding memories I have of that very enjoyable tour are numerous, I worked with the best Search Dog I have ever worked with, and with some great people. I got to see how different nationalities Army’s worked, and even how some other countries MWDs worked, to which in all honesty I can say, ours are better! But some of the memories which are printable are:
The RRW managing to find a turtle (It turned out to be a tortoise) up in the hills outside Pristina where apparently they are indigenous to the area, which I then had to take off them before they ate it! It became the Dog Unit mascot for several weeks until returned to the area it was found, even having a place front and centre of the Unit photograph.
Floyd finding the first plastic explosive to be discovered in Kosovo, along with several detonators.
Having twenty five finds out of my hundred and one searches, knowing that nothing had been missed in the searches that we carried out.
Finding a bolt action rifle with a three foot silencer in the garden of an 85 year old widow woman
Spending 2 hours searching old trenches, only to be informed afterwards that they had not been cleared for mines, a young Officer had sent us to the wrong area!
Being told by a local, when asked how his house was in such a bad state when he had such a beautiful top of the range BMW, complete with German number plates, parked outside, “You can’t steal houses from Germany!!”

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