By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
Harley, an IDD dog, was one of many Marines with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion deployed on a June mission supporting Operation Jaws in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. Their goal was to clear the area of IEDs and create safe passage for troops moving within and through the area and "to aid infantry maneuvering and delivery of supplies." Over the course of the ten-day mission, which included not only the efforts of explosive-detecting Harley, his handler, and their unit, but those of the supporting Afghan National Army teams and other Marine battalions.
Though the teams were attacked while conducting their searches -- hit with RPG rounds and small arms fire by insurgents in attempt to dislodge their efforts -- the mission was deemed a success, their finds boasting upwards of 15 IEDs and an anti-tank explosive.
"My guys did fantastic; I am super proud of them," said Staff Sgt. Gerhard Tauss. "We got into a firefight and they performed admirably; exactly how we trained them to. They kept their cool and I am lucky to have them in my platoon."
Above Harley takes a break in the back of a vehicle on June 23.
Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.