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Monday, 22 October 2012

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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.

Selected

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.

Significance

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.

Bond

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.

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