FORT BENNING, GA - The 463rd Medical Detachment Unit is getting ready to leave for Afghanistan this weekend to take care of some special members of the Armed Forces.
They may be man's best friend, but Lieutenant Colonel Scott Hanna says military working dogs are also important partners to their masters in the Army.
"They can go out and they can detect land mines, IEDs, or someone trying to smuggle like a suicide vest onto a camp that normally we wouldn't be able to detect," said Hanna.
Hanna and his unit of about 60 soldiers are heading to Afghanistan in a few days to take care of the soldiers' furry friends for a year. Hanna explains they are the first veterinary unit at Fort Benning, formed only about 9 months ago, and are made up of veterinarians and soldiers trained as veterinarian technicians. The will be taking care of about half the country's dogs deployed in Afghanistan.
"The veterinary units in the Army are so tapped out that was part of the reason they activated us. This past year because we are just getting stretched so thin we didn't have enough people to cover all the deployments."
Hanna says they will have full medical and surgical capabilities to make sure the working dogs are in top condition.
Hanna's wife, Kristi, wants people to understand there are all different kinds of soldiers serving.
"Nobody knows what the veterinarians do. It's kind of a different job, but it's really fun because they get to work with the military dogs. They're medically trained so they are a part of that medical community as well."
The Lieutenant Colonel says their job helps not only keep the dogs safe but soldiers as well.
"So us being able to take care of those dogs and keeping them up and running and being able to conduct that mission will keep all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines in Afghanistan safe," said Hanna.
The soldiers will also be working in food protection and food safety for the soldiers.