Even though the MWD programs in Colombia and Honduras are in vastly different stages of their development, the importance of the programs to the security of the region remains the same. And while security and stability in the Central American region remains crucial, West and Killian believe lessons learned from both SMEEs can have a lasting impact on MWD programs in the United States as well. During the month of July, a handful of U.S. Army South Soldiers traveled to Colombia and Honduras to conduct subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) with partner nation soldiers and civilians. While these are not an uncommon form of engagement within Army South’s area of responsibility, the topic of these two proved to be an exception. The focus for each one of these engagements centered on military working dogs, or MWDs. During the two engagements, the focus of each SMEE shifted slightly. While Colombia possesses a more robust MWD program, the Honduran Army is in its early stages of development. Colombian soldiers are working with Honduran MWD handlers to train them on the proper use of the MWDs. In September, there is a plan to send 20 Honduran handlers to Colombia for training. The veterinary working group focused on exchanging classes to create better understanding of each country’s Veterinary Corps and MWD programs. The classes led to discussions on challenges each program faces and points of collaboration. During the trip to Colombia, the Army South contingent chose to highlight the proper care of the working dogs to include the detection and treatment of common diseases among the dogs, specifically Leishmaniasis, a disease caused by protozoan parasites that is transmitted by the bite of certain fly species. Leishmaniasis is a disease that affects MWDs and Soldiers, often leaving permanent scars and potentially impacting force readiness. “The Colombian Military fully understands the value of their working dogs in detecting improvised explosive devises and narcotics,” said Killian, who led the veterinarian SMEE. “There is no piece of equipment that can replace these dogs. So, keeping them healthy is critical and requires a deliberate and robust veterinary team. The Colombian Army has increased the number of veterinarians in uniform, from three to 15, over the last year. This investment in veterinarians will certainly extend the working lifespan of Colombian MWDs.” “These dogs are a force multiplier,” said West. “They can detect and locate substances that we can’t see.” Like in Colombia, an emphasis on the care of the dogs was stressed to the Honduran soldiers in attendance. “Our SMEE with the Hondurans focused on the operational planning and utilization, the organizational structure and certification and training of an MWD program,” said West. “This is important in the implementation of a successful MWD program.” Both groups presented veterinary classes, and discussions geared toward mitigating the impact of Leishmaniasis. In addition, the Colombians learned how to collect tissue samples of a working dog with active Leishmaniasis. This was the first time most of the Colombian veterinarians were shown how to collect samples. “It’s a new program and they are reaching throughout the region for assistance,” said West. “The discussions centered on the prevention and treatment of MWDs diagnosed with diseases specifically Leishmaniasis,” said West. “We also discussed other important topics such as the proper care and treatment of the working dogs while they are deployed.” With the cost and time commitment invested in selecting and training a working dog, the importance of an effective breeding program becomes vital. In the U.S., a dog selected to become an MWD does not start training until approximately 15 months of age, while in Colombia, dogs as young as four months begin their training to become MWDs. The Honduran Army commanders see the importance of a strong MWD program in countering transnational organized crime, said West. “The ability to exchange information and dialogue with both armies will have a lasting effect on both countries’ dog programs,” said West. “We can certainly learn just as much from our partners as they can learn from us.” “The Colombian Army’s breeding program appears to have found the right way to breed dogs to become MWDs,” said West. “They have successfully bred more than 140 dogs with a 100 percent success rate.” “Because the two countries are in different stages of their programs, we chose to center our exchanges based on what was important to each of them,” said Master Sgt. Kirby West, the Army South military working dog program manager. By Dialogo August 30, 2013 Prior to leaving Colombia, the Army South contingent toured one of Colombia’s largest military kennels and received information on Colombia’s MWD breeding program. After leaving Colombia, the Army South team shifted their focus to assist the Honduran Army in their implementation of a brand new MWD program. Honduras began the construction of their first kennel and purchased their first MWDs in May of this year. While they currently only have seven dogs, the Honduran Army hopes to have that number swell to 30 dogs by mid next year. During the SMEE, West and Lt. Col. Jerrod W. Killian, the Army South chief of clinical operations and command veterinarian, worked with 15 veterinarians and two dog handlers from the Colombian Army. This exchange was the first time all 15 Colombian veterinarians were gathered in one area for a class. Currently, the working life of a Colombian MWD is about five years. In the U.S., a working dog can be expected to work up to 10 years. With proper disease detection and care of their MWDs, the Colombian Army is hoping to extend the working life of their approximately 3,500 working dogs.
Danish labour-market pensions provider Sampension has won a large corporate pensions contract from retail chain Sportsmaster to provide pensions for its staff of more than 1,000, ousting the current provider Nordea Life & Pensions.The DKK264bn (€35.4bn) pension fund said the Sportmaster contract was the first large company scheme it had taken on after deciding at the end of 2015 to focus more broadly on small and medium-sized businesses as a supplement to the collectively agreed labour-market schemes.Hasse Jørgensen, chief executive at Sampension, said: “Every time a big company puts their pension out to tender, there is a particularly thorough selection process, and we are proud the overall package of products, prices and services has matched the customer’s expectations in a market characterised by tough competition.”Chris Bigler, CFO at Sportmaster, said: “In Sampension, we saw the strongest combination of an effective administration set-up, the ability to generate attractive returns and good insurance.” Sampension won a contract from IT and software company KMD to provide a unified pension scheme for its workforce, which now totals more than 3,200 in late 2014, taking on around DKK3bn of existing pension savings.In December last year, the Architects’ Pension Fund (AP) and the Pension Fund for Agricultural Academics and Veterinary Surgeons (PJD) decided to move their administration and asset management to Sampension from Unipension, in a move that will involve about 19,000 pension scheme members, and the transfer of around DKK25bn in assets. The Sportmaster contract has been seen in Denmark as potentially marking a change in the pensions industry, as it is the first time a labour-market pension provider has won a major private-sector contract.In other news, Danish pension providers PFA and PKA announced they have linked up with private equity firm Axcel to buy a majority stake in Danish shipping finance company Danmarks Skibskredit from Danske Bank, Nordea and others for DKK4.25bn.PKA, which runs three health and social care sector pension funds, said it saw good chances for the company to increase its earnings once the market in which it operates improved. In the deal, Danske Bank, Danmarks Nationalbank (the Danish central bank), shipping giant AP Møller-Mærsk and Nordea Bank sold their ownership stake consisting of 72% of the equity capital of the shipping finance firm to a consortium made up of Axcel, PFA and PKA.Anders Damgaard, group finance director at PFA, said: “Danmarks Skibskredit is a solid business with a unique business model.”He said the company was a specialist within its field and its loss history and client list testified to a professionally run firm with a good market position.PKA CIO Michael Nellemann Pedersen said the pensions company believed it could continue with the good work that had already gone into the Danmarks Skibskredit, and that having new ownership would strengthen the firm. “At the same time, we see good opportunities for the company to increase its earnings, when the market comes to a time when it is in calmer waters,” he said.Peter Lybecker, chairman of Danmarks Skibskredit, said the company’s major shareholders had been in talks with several interested potential buyers.“In my opinion, Danmarks Skibskredit will get a particularly strong circle of owners in Axcel, PFA and PKA, who can support the company and speed up the continuing development of its shipping finance business for the benefit of staff, customers and cooperation partners,” he said.
1 Arsenal are readying a mammoth £51million bid for Juventus striker Alvaro Morata, according to reports in Italy.The Spaniard is a wanted man this summer with former club Real Madrid and Manchester United also keen on his signature.Real have a £23.6m buy-back option on the 23-year-old, but may consider selling him on to Arsenal straight away for a huge profit, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.The report suggests Arsenal have been in contact with Real, rather than Juventus, to try and work out whether they will activate their buy-back clause for Morata.The Spain international, who scored 11 goals for Juve last season, is understood to be open to a lucrative move to the Premier League and Arsenal are planning to make him their first choice striker ahead of Olivier Giroud if they can negotiate a deal for him. Alvaro Morata is a wanted man after scoring 11 goals for Juventus last season