Above is the drawing “Into The Breach” illustrated by artist Stuart Brown. The picture shows a Multi-Purpose Canine (MPC) doing what they do best. The dogs used by the 75th Ranger Regiment are highly trained and loyal. They are trained to patrol, to alert their handler of danger, and to find IEDs and explosives. They are many times the first to go “into the breach,” and this is precisely what MPC Maiko of the 75th Ranger Regiment’s 2nd Battalion was doing on November 24th, 2018 when he lost his life.
Maiko, born and imported from Holland in 2011, was only 15 months old when he arrived in the U.S. He was seven years old when killed by an al-Qaeda enemy combatant in a village in the Nimrov province of Afghanistan.
The Regimental Dog Program purchased Maiko in 2012, after which he proceeded through the rigorous and extensive training of the Regimental Basic/Advanced Handler’s Course before he was certified and assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment’s 2nd Battalion. During his career, he was the partner of five different handlers. One thing that many do not realize is the canine does not stay with one handler throughout their career. As soldiers rotate to new units or even out of active duty, the canine remains behind and awaits a new handler.
At the time of his last mission, Maiko was on his sixth deployment to Afghanistan. He had been in over 50 Ranger-led raids involving IED detections, building clearances, and combatant captures. Often when the Rangers breach a building, the enemy will run out the back and try to evade capture. Those runners are known as “squirters,” and there is no better way to catch them than to send the dog. Maiko was an expert in “squirter” apprehension. Maiko was the highest trained and most senior as well as the vastly experienced dog with the battalion at the time of his death.
On the night of the incident, Maiko was leading his assigned team of Rangers as they breached a targeted compound. The dogs often go first. They can find the hidden enemies and indicate the locations of explosives, weapons, and IEDs that are waiting for the Rangers to encounter. Maiko entered the breach and forced the hidden enemy to engage him revealing his position, at the time unknown to the Rangers. The Rangers eliminated the enemy threat, killing the al-Qaeda fighter, but lost Maiko in the process.
In an online tribute, a biographer explained: “Rest assured Maiko never backed down from a fight,” adding that this dog “embodied what it means to be a Ranger … The loss of Maiko is devastating to all that knew and worked with him.”
Information about the MPCs, their deployment, tactics and training, are not normally released to the public, and a spokesman for the 75th Ranger Regiment at Ft. Benning said they were still trying to determine who released the bio but he did confirm it was accurate.
There is a wide variety of training and specific jobs assigned to the canines and many dogs are trained in a particular task. But multi-purpose canines like Maiko are highly skilled and must undergo a rigorous selection process. Like the Rangers they assist, many dogs go through the training; few complete it successfully and are selected. Maiko was trained in patrolling, tracking, bomb detection, and apprehension functions, and had used his training repeatedly through his career by clearing buildings…as was the mission on this night.
“There was not a day that passed where he was not 100 percent committed to giving everything he had, regardless of how hot it was, how long the [operation] was, or how many buildings needed to be cleared,” the biography said.
As a former dog handler myself, first as a law enforcement K-9 handler and then in Afghanistan and Iraq as a contractor, I am personally saddened at the loss of this loyal and true-to-the-end Ranger. He had four legs rather than two, but that changes nothing.
The online document about Maiko explained how Maiko’s loss was devastating to his handler as well as the entire unit but Maiko left behind a tangible reminder. “It is an empty kennel, husbands coming home to their wives, kids getting to see their fathers once more, and Rangers getting to live to fight another day.”