Prestigious award for Lankan team
The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) of the United States honoured Sri
Lanka Army sapper DKN Rohan and mine detection dog Spartacus as the best
Mine Detection Dog (MDD) Team for 2012. A sapper, also called pioneer or
combat engineer, is a combatant or soldier who performs a variety of
military engineering duties such as bridge-building, laying or clearing
minefields, demolitions, field defenses and general construction, as
well as road and airfield construction and repair. They are also trained
to serve as infantry personnel in defensive and offensive operations. A
sapper’s duties are devoted to tasks involving facilitating movement of
allied forces and impeding those of enemies. The term “sapper” is used
in the British Army, Polish Army, Commonwealth nations and US military.
The Sri Lankan team was selected for this prestigious award out of
107 teams representing 11 countries. The team received the “MDD Team of
the year” award at the annual “Clearing the Path” Gala organised by the
MLI on October 10 in Washington DC.
Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya
felicitated the winning team at a ceremony on Thursday.
Commander Engineer Brigade of the Sri Lanka Army Brigadier Dhananjith
Karunaratne, and MLI Executive Director Perry Baltimore and Elise Becker
of MLI and officials of the embassy were in attendance. Commenting on
the significance of Sri Lankan team’s achievement, Baltimore said Sapper
Rohan and Spartacus excelled in all aspects of mine clearance operation.
“Sapper Rohan and his dog Spartacus risk their lives and limbs daily to
save and improve the lives of others. Together they have identified
antipersonnel landmines, hand grenades, and unexploded rocket propelled
grenades. They have searched and cleared dozens of acres of land that is
now being safely used by the Sri Lankan people,” he said.
He explained the teams nominated for the award are evaluated based on
the amount of land searched, the bond shared by the dog and the handler,
and the overall impact the team has had in improving and saving lives.
When asked what sets Spartacus and Sapper Rohan apart from other MDD
teams, he said it is the emotional bond that the two share when working
together “They have such a wonderful human and dog bond, which made
their team exceptionally efficient and effective. The bond shared
between MDD Spartacus and DKN Rohan has not only enriched their own
lives, but is pushing them to work even harder to search out minefields
in Sri Lanka and save lives,” he said.