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NEWS | Oct. 8, 2021

Alpena CRTC hosts canine handlers training

By Staff Sgt. Tristan D. Viglianco Michigan National Guard Public Affairs

The Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) hosted a training event for the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers (NAPCH), Oct. 3 to 7, 2021.

The base has held this event annually since 2005, with the exception of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dog week has become a welcomed tradition here and we are excited we get a chance to host it once again,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jim Rossi, commander, Alpena CRTC. “The training space and infrastructure we offer makes the CRTC a great place for our law enforcement partners to use for this training.”

The CRTC, which is part of Michigan’s National All-Domain Warfighting Center, provides premier support, facilities, instruction, and airspace to the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, coalition partners and emergency responders.

According to Terry Foley, NAPCH president, this year's event features more than 330 teams made up of a dog and their handler. This makes it the largest canine training and recertification event in North America.

“We have a multitude of training events. On any given day we have 17 training sites set up,” said Foley. “We have training in narcotic detection, explosive detection, tracking, tactical building searching, and aggression control.”

Representatives from roughly 280 organizations will use this event to maintain their training requirements and obtain certifications.

The facilities used by the NAPCH included the mout village, the small arms range, and the munitions storage area. Airmen also help play a part in the training by providing resources and expertise.

“This is the 8th year I have worked with the canine training event,” said Master Sgt. Jacob Barnes, munitions flight chief, Alpena CRTC. “We provide them with an opportunity to use our various training areas and provide explosive material for them to react to. We can set up large quantity finds that they wouldn’t get to practice anywhere else allowing them to see how their dog reacts to a large amount over a pound.”

In years past, the base fire department has used their infrastructure to train arson dogs to look for accelerants.

“Our relationship with the base has been phenomenal,” said Foley. ”They provide us with a great space to train and even when colonels change, they are so open to us being here.”