// NEWS RELEASE

Army Lab Supports Four-Legged Warfighters in Explosive Detection

CCDC Chemical Biological Center Public Affairs | May 22nd, 2024

// NEWS RELEASE

Army Lab Supports Four-Legged Warfighters in Explosive Detection

CCDC Chemical Biological Center Public Affairs | May 22nd, 2024

// NEWS RELEASE

Army Lab Supports Four-Legged Warfighters in Explosive Detection

CCDC Chemical Biological Center Public Affairs | May 22nd, 2024

Army Lab Supports Four-Legged Warfighters in Explosive Detection

DEVCOM CBC Public Affairs
May 22nd, 2024

In this episode of CB Defense Today, public affairs specialist Jack Bunja interviews Dr. Patricia Buckley, Deputy Division Chief for Sensor Technologies and Biomaterials at CBC, and SGM Viridiana Lavalle, U.S. Army Military Working Dog Program Manager at the Office of the Provost Marshal General.

Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD – The U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC) tested collective capabilities to determine if military working dogs can detect trace levels of explosives.

From March 20-22, researchers from the Center’s Applied Synthetic Biology and Olfaction branch tested the Working Dog Advanced Threat Assessment System (WD ATAS) at Aberdeen Proving Ground South for the canine portion of the Maneuver Support & Protection Integration eXperiments 2024 (MSPIX’ 24). The WD ATAS is a training aid kit designed to provide explosive detection canine teams with the ability to train on traditional and novel explosive threats, worldwide. The kit includes inkjet-printed coupons with non-detonable levels of threat material which are placed inside of a training aid delivery device (TADD), a DEVCOM CBC developed primary containment device for fine powders, liquids, and hazardous materials. The printed amounts are non-detonable and with the print solution being made from actual explosives, the odor profile is comparable to that of the larger quantities of bulk material.

These coupons were printed and supplied by the Center’s Army Explosives Forensics Advanced Technology Program. During the testing, scientists placed the inkjet-printed coupons into TADDs. These devices were then randomly placed inside of scent cans on turnstile-like wheels along with other familiar odors to assess if military working dogs could detect the trace amounts of explosive material that had been printed onto the coupons.

A military working dog sniffs a scent can containing a training aid delivery device during an exercise hosted by DEVCOM CBC in support of the Maneuver Support and Protection Integration Experiments Program. (U.S. Army photo by Ellie White).
A military working dog sniffs a scent can containing a training aid delivery device during an exercise hosted by DEVCOM CBC in support of the Maneuver Support and Protection Integration Experiments Program. (U.S. Army photo by Ellie White).

Dr. Shawna Gallegos, a chemist in the Center’s Applied Synthetic Biology and Olfaction branch, explained, “Adversaries use improvised explosive devices with very low amounts of odor coming from them. We’re testing actual explosives printed onto filter paper in such a small amount that it is non-detonable. So, the question is, can dogs trained on bulk quantities of explosive material detect coupons that are printed with trace levels of explosives? Yes, we’re seeing that they are capable of doing that.”

The WD ATAS exemplifies CBC’s aptitude for maximizing collective capabilities to support the defense mission. The Center leverages printing technology and skilled scientists who are adept at safely handling and analyzing various chemicals and threat materials to support military working dog training. This assessment also supports the Center’s memorandum of agreement with the Army’s Office of the Provost Marshall General to supply the expertise, training, and training aids for military working dog teams. “This event evaluates the WD ATAS and the potential utilization in our military working dog explosive detection training. Based on the data collected, DEVCOM-CBC will be able to assess if the WD ATAS is an effective technology to enhance military working dog trace detection training,” said Dr. Patricia Buckley, deputy chief of the Center’s Sensors Technologies and Biomaterials Division.

This exercise, which was an official MSPIX event hosted at Aberdeen Proving Ground, preceded the Army’s larger MSPIX ’24 event at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, May 6-24, 2024. Hosted by the Army’s Maneuver Support Capability Development Integration Directorate, MSPIX is a crucial platform that allows Army scientists to take innovations from a laboratory and demonstrate them in front of warfighters for a chance to test viability. “Our technology was approved for an offsite assessment due to broader local support of military working dog teams,” Buckley said.

In the future, the Center will continue to work with the Office of the Provost Marshall General and the Defense Health Agency to modernize military working dog training programs that support large-scale combat and Army operations. Specifically, Center scientists want to evaluate the ability of military working dogs to detect trace levels of a variety of existing and emerging threats. “DEVCOM-CBC has been instrumental in helping us with our modernization efforts,” said Sergeant Major Viridiana Lavalle, Army Military Working Dog Program manager. “Our collaboration with various research and development projects are enhancing our canine scent kits, military working dog capabilities, performance, and increasing survivability. The Army Military Working Dog Program will continue to evolve by participating in these innovative efforts with our partners at DEVCOM-CBC.”


The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) leads in the discovery, development and delivery of technology-based capabilities to enable Soldiers to win our nation’s wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. The DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center is the Army’s principal research and development center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering and field operations. The DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center is headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.