Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Questions on Notice

Defence: Explosive Detection Dogs (Question No. 1025)

Photo of Christopher BackChristopher Back (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 24 August 2011:

(1) How many military explosive detection dogs (EDD) are (recognising operational sensitivity, to the nearest five is sufficient):

  (a) held in units training by Army; and

  (b) presently deployed in Afghanistan.

(2) Of our past 2 years of improvised explosive device (IED) events where diggers have been killed or wounded in action; in any analysis, were all these patrols accompanied and intimately supported by EDD teams; if not, why not.

(3) What is the total number of military dogs that have been deployed each year since Australian forces commenced operations in Afghanistan and how many of those have been killed in action.

(4) How many:

  (a) have died as non-battle casualties from accidents in the Middle East Area of Operations;

  (b) have been lost and then recovered;

  (c) remain unaccounted i.e. missing in action;

  (d) have been repatriated to Australia; and

  (e) military canine remains have been returned to Australia.

(5) Relating total troop numbers with total military dog numbers, how does

Australia compare with each of our allies having dogs deployed with their

troops in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO), for example, if we

accept that the British have some 9 000 troops deployed with 90 dogs, this

gives a ratio of specialist military dogs of one dog to 100 troops; what is

Australia's ratio for the protection for our diggers in the MEAO.

(6) (a) If needed, how is each dog physically attached to its handler, for example, one or more leads; or

  (b) what material is used in the lead, for example, webbing, Kevlar, steel reinforced leather, or other; and

  (c) if the handler is wounded or immobilised, can the dog free itself.

(7) What is the standard operating procedure to medivac the dog in the event the handler is the subject of a medivac procedure.

(8) In what other countries, if any, are Australian military dogs and handlers deployed currently.

(9) When was the last time any of our handlers served in a training environment overseas with any of our allies/coalition forces with their EDD in amplification of their home training, for any period of time, for example more than 6 months.

(10) In the past 12 months, what is the highest rank of any officer who has sought professional advice on our dog efforts from a professionally qualified veterinary surgeon.

(11) (a) What is the rank of the senior military person with direct responsibility for the military dog program who is a qualified cynologist; and

  (b) what is the operational chain of command above this person.

(12) What is the annual budget in 2011-12 and the out years in the forward estimates in regard to:

  (a) maintenance of the military dog unit in Australia and overseas; and

  (b) replacement of service dogs (breeding/training).

(13) Are there plans to increase the number of dogs being trained for deployment into Afghanistan and other theatres; if so, what are these plans and the timing of the increases.

(14) Given that in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), dogs killed on operational deployment have their remains returned to their specialist dog unit [OKETZ] for a formal burial with full military honours in a cemetery especially for their dogs: when Australian dogs are tragically killed in action, are their remains returned to Australia.

(15) What is the highest number of rotations any dog handler has served or is serving in Afghanistan.

(16) Is there any difficulty in recruiting quality handlers.

(17) Does Australia have any veterinary surgeons serving in the Army as veterinary surgeons; if so, how many.

(18) Does Australia have any veterinary nurses in the Army; if so, how many.

(19) Did Australia ever have any veterinary nurses serving in the Army's EDD program.

(20) Does Australia we have any plans to recruit and/or commission veterinary specialists, such as surgeons or nurses, into the Army to enhance both our EDD effort on the ground and professional advice to senior officers.


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