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									MDD Partnership Program – Sri Lanka

11/28/09

Donor Update #1

Sri Lanka
General
This is the first progress report regarding MLI’s Mine Detection Dog Partnership Program in Sri Lanka. The program has combined the resources of MLI and its private donors with resources from the US and Sri Lankan governments to develop an indigenous Mine Detection Dog (MDD) capacity in Sri Lanka. The major private donors who were instrumental in the formation of this partnership program include: the schoolchildren of Wyoming; Dr. Beall & Linny Fowler and the citizens of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania; the Galleon Group; the Martin Trust Family Foundation; Chubb & Son; Caterpillar Inc.; Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation; Donald McCoy and the Sri Lankan Association of Greater Washington. The partnership has resulted in the deployment of six certified dogs to Sri Lanka, which will now bond with local handlers for integration into the national landmine clearance program. The MDD teams will help to ease the scourge of landmines by “sniffing out” mines, saving lives and returning land to productive use.

Reporting Period
This report covers the period of February 2004.

Training Activities
During this reporting period, the MDD teams were transported to Sri Lanka to begin training with their Sri Lankan handlers. The dogs arrived safely and healthy in Colombo on the 19th of February at four in the morning. They were met at the airport by the RONCO staff and immediately given water and an opportunity to “stretch.” A Sri Lankan film crew was present to record their arrival. Once released by the customs office, the dogs were loaded onto the RONCO truck and taken to the kennels in Colombo where they received a much needed rest. The “six-pack” of lifesaving dogs includes four Belgian Malinois and two German Shepherds. CC, Hannah, Lehigh and Wyoming are all female Belgian Malinois and nearly three years old, with the exception of CC who is one only one and a half years old. Galleon and Trusty are male German Shepherds and are nearly two years old. The dogs will adjust to the climate of Sri Lanka for the first few days in Colombo. Within one week’s time, they will go to the Sri Lankan Army Engineer School in

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Embilipitiya to prepare for the Mine Dog Handler Course. The Course is scheduled for 8 March – 11 June 2004, with a graduation ceremony tentatively planned for 11 June. The mine dog advisors are Ruben Pena and Ed Abel from Global Training Academy in Somerset, Texas. The advisers will assign the dogs to their newly selected Sri Lankan handlers by March 10. During the Mine Dog Handler Course the dogs will be trained to detect the following: TNT, C-4, landmines and unexploded ordnance. Training will be conducted in five phases: Phase I - Obedience Basic obedience is the most important key to the success of training a mine detection dog. This phase develops a strong bond between a dog and its handler. The stage teaches the handler the correct execution of verbal commands, leash control, timing and appropriate verbal and physical praise for the dog. The mine dog learns to pay attention to their handler, and how to respond to each command. Obedience drills are practiced daily to ensure consistent behavior and to improve & maintain handler proficiency. A supervisor or mine dog advisor will monitor obedience training and correct the dogs & handlers when required. Phase II - Open Area This phase introduces the dog to the odors it will need to detect and the purpose of a reward (a kong or ball) in landmine detection work. Open area training instructs the dog to recognize explosive odors, to pinpoint the source of targeted smells and to execute the initial “sit” response when it has located the source of the odor. The handler learns leash control skills and how to distinguish changes in the dog’s behavior. These techniques are used throughout the dog’s training to reinforce odor recognition and response. Phase III - Training Blocks Block training is the third step to develop the dog’s skills in odor detection and to shape the behavior of the dog. This phase teaches the dog and handler: (1) the correct body position in the sit response; and (2) initial search pattern techniques. This phase is also used to exercise and improve abilities in leash control, odor recognition and commands. The training typically begins with odors emitted by small amounts of TNT or smokeless powder. As the dogs learn to correctly and continually identify these items, new odors are introduced. Once the dog is proficient in all explosive odors, the amount of explosive material is reduced. The training aids initially are laid on the surface, and are then gradually buried to a depth of approximately 10 cm.

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Phase IV - Training Lanes & Trails This phase conditions the dog’s sniffing behavior and develops a straight-line pattern within the search lane. It reinforces search capability on surface to sub-surface training aids at depths ranging from 0-10 cm. Phase V - Training Mock Minefield with Target Lanes This stage prepares the mine detection dog teams for actual work in the minefields. This is done by establishing a mock minefield. A 5m x 5m or 7m x 7m grid is constructed and a perimeter established using string or minefield tape attached to small stakes placed a meter apart. The dog then searches the clearly marked target lane on the upwind or crosswind side. Once completed the target lane is then moved and the dog searches the second target lane. The lane is moved each time by one meter and the dog continues to clear the lanes until the grid is finished. During this phase the handlers are taught to follow all safety standards in the mine dog standard operating procedure.

Humanitarian Mine Action in Sri Lanka
The scourge of landmines in Sri Lanka is a very serious problem. The Sri Lankan Government Security Forces have endured two decades of conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE.) The LTTE is a separatist organization that has fought for an independent state, Tamil Eelam (eelam is “homeland” in Tamil) for the Tamil ethnic group in northern Sri Lanka. This has resulted in over 1.5 million anti-personnel (AP) mines laid in the northern and eastern portions of the country. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reported 958 civilian and 3005 military and police casualties attributed to landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) casualties from 1995 to February 10, 2003. The Sri Lankan Army has declared the number of AP mines laid by the Security Forces to be approximately one million however the number of mines laid by the LTTE is not known. A joint ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE signed in February 2002 has allowed Sri Lanka to expedite its demining programs. Almost all minefields of the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE were laid many years ago and are now covered with thick scrub. Some mined areas are covered with the rubble of destroyed buildings. Hence the deminers are subjected to a number of 3

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complexities and manual demining is very difficult in certain areas. Surveys conducted by the Army and other international non-governmental organizations have revealed that a vast area in the northern and eastern portions of Sri Lanka is contaminated with mines and UXO. It is estimated that it will take a number of years to demine these areas at the present rate of clearance. The presence of landmines severely limits social & economic development and the ability of hundreds of thousands of refugees to return safely to their homes.

Organizations Involved in Demining
The National Steering Committee for Mine Action (NSCMA) is the supreme organization responsible for and the policy making body of the humanitarian mine action in Sri Lanka. The NSCMA was established by the Honorable Prime Minister’s Office and is chaired by Mr. Bradman Weerakoon, who also serves as the Commissioner General of “Triple R” (Relief, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation). The District Steering Committee for Mine Action (DSCMA) is responsible for mine action at the District level and decides on the priority of work. It is chaired by the District Secretary who is the senior-most civilian administrator of the respective District. A number of non-governmental organizations are also involved in landmine clearance, victim assistance, mine risk education and advocacy efforts against the use of landmines.

The Army Effort
The Sri Lankan Army was the first group in Sri Lanka to engage actively in humanitarian demining activities and commenced their formal operations in March 2001. This was in support of the Sri Lankan Government’s program for resettlement and rehabilitation of internally displaced peoples in the North and East. Prior to this the Army had carried out small scale demining operations to meet various requests made by civilian authorities and residents in those areas. Presently there are four Field Engineer Regiments employed on humanitarian demining activities in the North and East. In consideration of the Government’s program for resettlement the Sri Lankan Army has intensified its demining actions in the areas affected by the conflict with the LTTE. Per UNDP statistics as of November 30, 2003 the area demined by the Army is 17,315,917 square meters and in the process they have recovered 88,866 AP mines, 284 anti-tank mines and 4,596 pieces of UXO. The combined efforts of all other demining agencies have cleared 1,069,197 square meters of land. 25,001 AP mines 38 anti-tank mines and 12,038 pieces of UXO have been recovered. The addition of mine detection dogs to the national mine action program of Sri Lanka Government promises to substantially accelerate the pace of landmine clearance operations. 4

MDD Partnership Program – Sri Lanka

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Mine Detection Dogs for Sri Lanka

CC
Belgian Malinois Female Born Aug. 13, 2002

Galleon
German Shepherd Male Born April 24, 2002

Hannah
Belgian Malinois Female Born October 9, 2001

Lehigh
Belgian Malinois Female Born April 23, 2001

Trusty
German Shepherd Male Born April 19, 2002

Wyoming
Belgian Malinois Female Born September 23, 2001

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