RAF Lyneham's Corporal Gareth Scutt and his patrol dog, air dog Argin, were last week crowned the winners of the Royal Air Force Police UK Military Working Dog Trials 2010.
In a clean sweep of the major awards at the competition, Cpl Scutt and Argin were not only crowned the 2010 overall champions but also won the best criminal workout (attack), the best arena (obedience and agility), and the canine biathlon.
Unable to compete in the regional dog trials due to their busy arms and explosives search (AES) duties, Cpl Scutt and Argin were lucky to be entered as a wild card entry into the UK trials, held at RAF Henlow, as a result of their success at last year’s competition.
The stakes were high as Cpl Scutt and Argin were up against the best dogs in the RAF who had proved their place in the finals after winning their respective regional competitions.
The week-long trials are designed to stretch every aspect of the teams (dogs and handlers), pushing their mental and physical abilities to the extreme.
Each discipline was set to measure teams’ abilities in various fields such as health and hygiene, control, patrolling, search, obedience, agility and obstacles.
Cpl Scutt’s and Argin’s skills shone through throughout, especially in their winning of the arduous canine biathlon which consisted of a three-mile (4km) circuit with a weapon-handling test, a canine first aid test, obstacles, a memory test and a shoot.
The final test of the week required the teams to demonstrate their ability to control a passive and aggressive crowd and then finally the crowd-pleaser, the criminal workout or attack work.
As with most of the military working dogs, this was Argin’s favourite task, and one he excelled in. He leapt the three-foot (1m) fence, which had been placed between him and the criminal, and charged at full speed to deal with the situation. He bit hard, only leaving when given the command, then guarded the criminal during the subsequent search and whilst the weapon was made safe.
Cpl Scutt, aged 31, joined the RAF in 2001 and trained as a dog handler in 2006, before going on to qualify as a dog trainer and AES specialist. His duties have seen him deployed to Kuwait and the Falkland Islands and more recently carrying out some high profile searches across the UK, notably at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Royal International Air Tattoo.
He was ecstatic to win the 2010 trials and said:
The week was really challenging physically and mentally, but also incredibly rewarding. We were up against stiff competition and I’ve had a busy year working away, which didn’t allow Argin and I much time to train for the trials - but the results speak for themselves!
Group Captain John Whitmell, RAF Provost Marshal, said:
RAF Police dog teams provide Defence with a hugely flexible force multiplier, with handlers capable of quickly and effectively morphing between their policing and force protection [FP] roles. The annual dog trials represent an opportunity for members of the RAF Police military working dog community to showcase this wide range of skills whilst also demonstrating their operational resilience.
The trials process is deliberately demanding, both physically and mentally - an accurate reflection of the job that the handlers are asked to perform on Operation HERRICK, in other overseas theatres and in the UK FP role on a daily basis.
The standard of teams seen at this year’s trials was excellent and the overall winner, Corporal Scutt, a worthy champion.