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INTERVIEW: RICHARD VARGUS, Author of Warrior Dogs




Here are some words from RICHARD Vargus on his book, Warrior Dogs:

Warrior Dogs gives you a good overview on the critical missions performed by Military working dogs and the mission of the Military Working Dog Transit Hub. Earl Wormley, handle "Worm" was one of the great Air Force noncommissioned officers who ran the hub for CENTCOM, another great canine hero.

I reported to CENTCOM (Central Command) in Jan 2006, and by March I was the Joint Security Office, Military police/security forces force manager (I had the responsibility for collaborating the MP and SECFOR units going to Iraq and Afghanistan which included approximately 600 dogs of the joint services).


As Earl alludes to, all dogs transited through two hubs. McGuire and eventually the Air Base at Al Salam Kuwait. Understanding that prior to the establishment of the transit hubs, our 18-19-20 year old handlers supporting Army combat missions from the Army, Navy and Air Force (yes I had to cross level canines from all the services to meet the counter-IED needs to support army missions, eventually cross leveling them to support special operations as well.

McGuire was fairly easy, they operated in buildings, on an Air Force base, that had an AF MWD kennel. And CENTCOM provided the manning.


Kuwait Hub (Al Salem AB). There was a kennel, but that belonged to the unit in the video (386th Security forces Squadron). We needed to be autonomous and unto CENTCOM oversight.


There were no facilities to support the Salem Hub, we worked out the plan, we knew we it was going to be Army and Air force staffed, a joint operation, and that the Air force was going to provide the supervisor (Earl). We attained the concurrence from the Air Force, and Army to generate the order to establish the Hub. Now we had to figure out how and who was going to build it. We thought there was going to be no problem with getting a task order to the Air Force engineers to build the facility. Unfortunately, Murphy jumped in with two feet!!!


The Kuwaiti government placed a ban on building any new permanent facilities. No restrictions on utilities, but that placed us at a standstill...until Red Horse arrived.

The Air Force has a special unit called Red Horse, like the Navy Sea Bees. They are the quick reaction force that can be deployed world-wide dropped in to be able to build facilities to get an airfield up and operational I believe within 72 hours. All specially skilled artisans, they are miracle workers. Nothing they can’t accomplish.


In early 2008 we had a meeting to try and figure out how to maneuver past this dilemma. Red Horse was invited and after "the officers" had presented the problem we still had no solution. We had a design - three trailers (one admin), two configured with 6 kennel runs (type?), with running water, a preparation table, run off drains, electric.

Red Horse, FYI are all enlisted personnel, and normally led by several Chief Master Sergeants (E9 the highest enlisted ranks). They sat patiently until we were finished placating our problem. Then a burly "chief" stood up, asked if we could leave the plans with them, and basically kicked us all out of the room so "they could" get to work. We had anticipated even if we had the materials, it would take at least a week to put in place. And we had no clue where we would get the trailers and place a foundation.


We left and were hoping that RED Horse could devise a plan to build the hub. As is aptly described in the book, I went to bed that evening, and when I woke up there was a miracle. Somehow overnight Red Horse found three trailers, framed a makeshift foundation (these were only going to be temporary), set them in place, installed running water, kennel runs (chain link fence design), electric (with air conditioning), stair and a small balcony, we were operational.

We went from famine to feast overnight, because these Red Horse airman knew the importance of getting the hub operational and the mission that our MWD's played in saving lives.


Of course, once they accomplished the mission, as a quick reaction force, they were off on another mission. But the greatest take away not only for this mission and what we did with the dogs, was that during the war the nonsense of politics was minimized at the Pentagon, and senior levels. When you were in the actual operational area you just got the mission done and took care of your troops. The BS was nonexistent.


The other key point is that with everyone who served, we were all just doing our jobs. It was a team effort, no one cared about the uniform you wore, where you were from, your ethnicity or race. We were a team and the team had to get the mission accomplished.

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Vargas has spoken at Bookish and at the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith (UAFS). His presentations were dynamic and well-received at both locations. His book is available at Bookish in Fort Smith and on Amazon.


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