The U.S. Marine Corps is undergoing a large-scale review of its programs that could result in significantly reducing its number of working dogs.
Marine Corps Military Working Dog Program Director Bill Childress told Military.com that the working dog force is likely to be reduced from about 210 to 150 over the next two years.
“We’re trying to get more out of a dog,” Mr. Childress told the publication. “We have what we call single-purpose dogs and dual-purpose dogs. We’re trying to get more dual-purpose dogs, because we feel like we get more bang for the buck.”
He said the program’s human staff will also be reduced from roughly 260 to 210. Mr. Childress said the “right-sizing” move is in an effort to utilize more dogs that are trained in multiple skill sets.
Despite the downsizing, Mr. Childress said that the program will “still be able to perform our mission and execute everything we need to do.”
Working K9s who are trained for patrol and aggression also have abilities to be trained for drug and explosive searches, he said. However, it doubles the length of the training cycle that can last around three months.
The dogs are often deployed with handlers into combat zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as aboard ships for drug and explosive detection missions. Marine dogs are also deployed domestically for drug and law enforcement missions, as well as to provide security for top government officials.