The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) of the United States, an international humanitarian organization, has honored Sri Lanka Army sapper DKN Rohan and Mine Detection Dog Spartacus as the best Mine Detection Dog (MDD) Team for the year 2012.
The Virginia-based international humanitarian organization honored the Sri Lankan team at its 15th annual 'Clearing the Path Gala' on October 10th in Washington, DC at the Fairmont Hotel.
The outstanding team from Sri Lanka was selected for this prestigious award out of 107 teams representing 11 countries.
The institute has donated six MDDs to the Sri Lankan Army's Humanitarian Demining Unit in 2010. Sponsored by the Seven Lakes School in Katy, Texas, MDD Spartacus, was among this group and he and his handler, Sapper DKN Rohan, have excelled in every aspect of mine clearance operations.
In the last six months, the incredible team of Sapper Rohan and Spartacus has searched more land than any of the other teams in their unit, finding numerous explosives and landmines, and saving countless lives, the MLI said.
The award winning black Belgian Malinois MDD Spartacus arrived in Sri Lanka in 2011 along with a group of five, in order to accelerate the post-conflict resettlement and rebuilding activities in the North. Students of Seven Lakes School in Katy, Texas sponsored Spartacus under the MLI's Children Against Mines Program (CHAMPS).
The MLI has gifted 26 Mine Detection Dogs to the Army Humanitarian Demining Unit under its Mine Detection Dog Partnership Program (MDDPP) since 2004 when the organization first began working in Sri Lanka.
The Institute has donated 12 MDDs and provided integration training to the Sri Lankan Army's Engineer Regiment in 2004 and 2005, but a surge in fighting in 2008 and 2009 has resulted in the early retirement of these MDDs.
To assist in their mine clearance efforts, the Engineer Regiment has requested additional MDDs and MLI has responded with an initial donation and integration training for five MDDs in June 2011. MLI says it plans to donate an additional six MDDs to Sri Lanka in 2012.
The U.S. government provides funding for the training of local staff engaged in MDDPP while the MLI raises private funding to provide highly trained dogs to the beneficiary countries.