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Fort Carson Mountaineer

Military working dog: Carson’s unit snares top Army honor

By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff

FORT CARSON Colo. — The ceremony could be months away thanks to current pandemic protocols, but the 759th Military Police Battalion learned recently that one of its units has garnered the coveted Maj. Gen. Harry H. Bandholtz award for the second consecutive year.

The 59th MP Company took home last year’s Bandholtz award and this year, the 69th MP Detachment, military working dog (MWD) unit, claimed the honor as the best detachment in the Army MP corps.

“We are really proud of Captain Justin Scott, First Lieutenant Alexandrea Rashenskas, Sergeant 1st Class Mathew Peppersack, the NCOs and Soldiers in the 69th MP Detachment,” said Lt. Col. Ranjini Danaraj, commander, 759th MP Bn. “I was immediately impressed with their certification rate when I took command of the battalion and have grown to admire the ownership and camaraderie this team displays daily. It is a rare moment in your career when the right people are at the right place at the right time. And the Army has recognized that. They are an incredible team, truly deserving of the Major General Bandholtz award.”

To be considered for the Bandholtz award, military police units develop packages detailing their experiences and accomplishments throughout the year, then submit those packages to U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and the Army for review.

A board of officers and sergeants major then comb through packages and form a consensus about the best units. They then compare the top performing units and determine a winner. There is no award for second place.

Fort Carson’s lone MWD MP unit includes 18 Soldier or MWD teams, plus squad leaders and trainers, a plans NCO, kennel master, executive officer and commander.

“Roughly six of our MWD teams are deployed at any given time,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Spears, kennel master, 69th MP Det. “And we have a strong mix of experience among our handlers and working dogs from brand new privates to seasoned NCOs.”

Unlike most Army units, handlers and their MWDs typically deploy as individual teams. Deployment orders for a team usually come down from senior Army leaders and are passed down through the 89th MP Brigade before reaching the 759th MP Battalion and the 69th MP Det.

Once in a deployed theater, teams are evaluated before being assigned to a specific Army unit. Spears said MWDs can specialize as either drug detection or explosive detection dogs, but that they all serve a law enforcement role, both in deployed settings and at Fort Carson.

The Bandholtz award covers the 2020 calendar year and finalists were chosen from winners of the Army command level competition, known as the Eagle Award competition. Since the 69th MP Detachment earned the Eagle Award back in October, its leaders knew they were in the running for the overall Army award.

“I was checking notifications three times a day, hoping to find out if we’d won,” Scott said. “And when we heard the news, our kennel master team was simply ecstatic. We knew this would be a significant honor.”

Scott said the 69th MPs have not received word of when an award ceremony might take place, but that the unit’s teams and trainers are aware of the award’s significance.

Military working dog: Carson’s unit snares top Army honor
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