Falklands’ Flint and Fitz, protecting RAF valuable assets in the Islands
British military has always had proud traditions of families following each other into service and also offering a chance to make more out of life. Both are apparent in the story of the two newest additions to the RAF Police (RAFP) Section in the Falkland Islands.
The two brothers, who joined the RAF Police less than 18 months ago from a difficult background, are already making a name for themselves. They have proved themselves policing experts, with a gift for finding and detaining intruders, who aren’t afraid to deal with trouble, who work well as a team or on their own, and who respond enthusiastically to any orders given. It is obvious they have very bright futures ahead of them.
But what makes these brothers really special is that they have four legs and a tail. Flint and Fitz, two Belgian Malinois, were adopted into the military working dog puppy development programme at the Defence Animal Centre alongside another brother (Frank) and sister (Flo) at five months old after they were rescued by the RSPCA in a group of 60 dogs confiscated from a rogue breeder.
It was a true second chance for the family of puppies. The RSPCA had previously tried to re-home them as pets. Their high work drive and energetic nature meant that people were unable to control them or keep them within their homes.
However, the same traits that made them unruly as pets meant that they had potential for military service, and they were accepted into the UK Forces’ programme despite being more than twice the usual age for dogs entering training.
After being tested for a variety of disciplines Flo was selected to be a police dog, while the three brothers were put through training as protection dogs. This involves using positive reinforcement based training and making the training objectives into a game for the dogs. While this is fun for the dogs, the level required is still exceptionally high. Flint and Fitz were required to prove themselves at several stages of training. First they had to show that they had enough potential to learn and develop from puppies into full working dogs. Next they were moved onto a training course where they were expected to regularly show development in their obedience and ‘bite-work’ – keeping to a strict time table.
Finally they were put through two ‘pass out’ testing programmes, showing their ability to find a person, chase and bite them if they proved to be hostile. They were also required to perform full obedience demonstrations, confirming a high level of control and athleticism on and off lead.
After proving themselves as capable dogs across the board, Flint and Fitz were selected to boost the number of dogs used by the RAF in the Falkland Islands to defend the valuable assets operating there.
The brave lads now stand out as two of the best police dogs on the Islands. Not content with professional success, they also represented the RAF at the Stanley Dog Trials, with Flint taking first place and Fitz third.