The camp perimeter at RAF Salalah comprised of a double fence topped with barbed wire, the area between the two fences was called the “sterile” area, and this was the undisputed domain of the much feared RAF Police dogs and their handlers, who patrolled the area during the silent hours. Dogs it has to be said who were not to be fucked with. I had quite an extensive working relationship with Police dogs and handlers during my service, this included putting on the criminal suit and allowing the dogs to attack me, (see told you I was stupid didn’t I?),so I had a pretty good idea of when to approach the dog, and when to give it a miss. I quickly reached the conclusion that these dogs were baddies and needed leaving well alone, unless you were prepared to take the risk of having lumps of your body violently and savagely removed that is.

But, seriously, during all my time in the job, I never saw dogs that were so frightening. It could have been the climate, it could have been the different noises, I really don’t know, but these bastards were mean in every sense of the word. In Germany for instance we could go and make a fuss of the majority of the dogs, some of them we could feed or even take for a walk, but the ones in Salalah were something else entirely.

The smells around the camp, especially from the cookhouse which used to drive us mad never mind the dogs, plus the sudden and unexpected noises from machine gun and Artillery fire, must all have contributed in some way to driving the dogs up the wall, but the one thing guaranteed to set the dog straight into kill mode was the sight of an Arab. They fucking hated them. No ifs, no buts, no exceptions. The funny thing was, the dog didn’t even have to have an eyeball on the Arab, they could smell them a mile off, mind you so could we sometimes, but as soon as they did, that was it the dogs went absolutely mental!!!

Sadly some of the Arab guards who to be fair, were a good bunch of lads, tried their best to make friends with the dogs, but there was no chance at all. All the dog wanted to do when it clocked an Arab was kill him, and as the dogs were making this very clear, the continued efforts by our Middle Eastern mates to extend the hand of friendship really did nothing to improve the mind set of our canine friends, nor did it do much by way of encouraging them to be of a good disposition.

As we were more often than not working with an Arab it was generally regarded as good practice if you kept at least ten meters of clear ground between you and any Police dog and handler whenever they paid you a visit at the gate. It was also considered to be in your own best interests if you ensured that the Arab was in between you and the dog and handler. The ten meters, would in no way allow you to escape being attacked completely, but we worked on the proviso that if the dog did manage to slip its lead, it would go for the Arab first. Therefore, we were all confident that if the canine terror did somehow become detached from the only person who at least appeared to have some form of tenuous control over it, at least you would have the time to draw your personal weapon and shoot the bastard dead whilst it was distracted by savaging the local. I also feel it is true to say, that in the case of this happening, the chance that the erring handler who may have inadvertently released his dog would also, have more than doubled his chances of being blown away by his station police colleague, for his negligence.

These dogs were to put it mildly, evil wicked mean and nasty, but as I said the one positive point, however, was the fact that they hated the Arabs with a passion. This facet of their nature, and the fact that even the handlers were at a loss to explain why this behaviour was so common among the entire dog section was an enigma. But at least if you were stood near one of the locals and the hound from hell suddenly decided to do an “aborigine”, and go walkabout, your chances of avoiding canine emasculation were greatly increased by the generally held belief that the dog’s initial intent would be to grab the Arab first, therefore this assumption justified why we always stood well behind them!!!

Having said all that though, there were times during my service, when I was suspicious if not firmly convinced that I stood more chance of being bitten by the handler than the dog, such was the diversity of the recruiting and selection process!

There was an incident which occurred just when 15 and 51 Squadrons of the RAF Regiment were changing over. The Regiment, or “Rockapes” as they are widely known throughout the RAF, were employed in a defensive capacity for the unit, and occupied the outer perimeter defence positions. This change over period normally lasted a few days and entailed the operational handover taking place during the day, followed by a piss up of gigantic proportions during the evenings. I was only ever present for one of these events, as they only took place every six months, but let me assure you, it was one of those spectacles which are not to be forgotten very easily.

Owing to the adverse publicity these famous drunken and raucous evenings normally attracted, one evening, the R.A.F Police flight were put on standby at closing time, in order to ensure the N.A.A.F.I was closed and vacated within a decent time, and to ensure that drunken damage was kept to a minimum. We were ordered to attend the NA.A.F.I just before last orders, and assist the bar staff where necessary. Now this order was an accident waiting for somewhere to happen, because anyone familiar with service life knows full well that after a night on the piss, the one thing guaranteed to ensure disharmony, grief and a fucking scrap is the sight of a Military Policeman in full uniform.

This order ,was thought out and promulgated by someone who was obviously well out of touch with the real world, and by virtue of the rank he held, was not likely to be anywhere near the violence when it kicked off. In addition to this it also clearly demonstrated he had shit for brains. Orders like these are non-starters, they achieve fuck all except the giving and receiving of much pain, the spilling of much blood, and the instigating of many disciplinary charges and arrests, not to mention the bloody paperwork.

The best course of action is to leave the fuckers well alone, and let them get on with it. The situation will manage itself and in the end the piss heads will either fight each other to a standstill, fall asleep in a bush, or get bored when it’s obviously no one is listening to them and fuck off to bed. If in the event of a fight happening, we can watch from a safe distance while those involved knock seven shades of shit out of each other, then move in sharpish, and pick up the pieces which we then cart off to the nick, with a small pause at the Medical Centre if needed. But we made it a point that we never intervened when the fists were swinging unless absolutely necessary. After all why get punched if you can avoid it?

But in any case, whatever happens you should never, ever ring the place with coppers or get the coppers to try and clear the N.A.A.F.I, especially when they are outnumbered by forty to one, because you are surely begging for trouble which you will duly receive in spades. The problem here was no bastard apart from us had realized this and no one apart from us was aware of the possible outcome. As the saying goes, “Thoroughbreds led by donkeys”.

The cherry on the cake in this particular case was that the duty dog handlers had been detailed to attend as well. This caused much weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth, (ours, that is, not the dogs, that would follow later), because dogs, especially the bad bastards we had, and drunks do not mix.

The drunk will convince himself he can befriend any dog on earth, and will go to great lengths to demonstrate his canine communication skills, and the Police dog being equally keen to prove him wrong, will do its utmost to thwart any such attempt and yes, you are quite correct in assuming, the dog usually wins. The dogs we had in Salalah, as I have already said, hated the Arabs for reasons unknown to us or their handlers, but one thing they appeared to hate almost as much was a drunk, especially one who tries to befriend it. They just didn’t want to know, and what’s more they weren’t shy when it came to showing their resentment either.

This particular night gave us all a bad feeling. We knew we had been given a duff job and none of us were overly enthusiastic about being involved. We could see that the situation was doomed to failure but the decision made by someone well above our pay scale but well below our intelligence level had been made and that was that.

The duty crew and the Dog handlers turned up at the appointed time, and deployed to positions on the instructions of the N.C.O in charge. He must have felt as though he was feeding Christians to the Lions but his choices were limited. He either did as he was told, or he lost his rank and attracted a charge of disobeying a direct order, not surprisingly he chose the former.

The club was heaving with Rockapes, all of whom were well pissed, it was riotous and lively assembly, but up until now there had been no major problems. There had been the odd internally managed punch up between mates who then kissed, made up and swore undying friendship for each other, as is the wont of servicemen all over the world, but nothing major. The odd window had been demolished, and the chairs were somewhat battered, but that was the result of the rather robust bar games such as bombarding each other with snooker balls as opposed to actual violence, so it didn’t really count.

As closing time approached, the tension rose and everyone became quite edgy, after last orders some of us went into the club and made our presence known in as friendly a manner as possible. We made it obvious that we had to ensure the club was cleared pretty quickly but didn’t push things too fast. The guys were slowly leaving and just stood around shooting the shit as drunks are apt to do. The situation was contained and well managed, and some of us began to think things were going a little too smoothly, and bloody right we were too.

Around at the front of the N.A.A.F.I there was a dog handler and his beast, he was stood well back and was just monitoring the overall situation. There was no sign of any major trouble so they didn’t need to get involved.

Suddenly a small group of Rocks came out of the club and crossed the track to where the dog handler stood. The dog stood up and began to growl, this in itself should have been a clear indication that it was best for everyone to maintain a decent distance between themselves and the dog, but as I said we were dealing with drunks here, and experience has shown that when a human being has consumed sufficient alcohol they seem to lose their common sense and their ability of conducting themselves appropriately. In other words we get pissed and turn into irrational idiots. That is exactly what had happened here.

Anyway, the group approached the dog and handler and the dog growls even louder.

“Please stay back lads and keep clear of the dog”, the handler says quite clearly and pleasantly.

“I want to kiss your dog goodnight” said the person who is clearly the number one idiot of the group.

“That’s not a very good idea”, says the handler, “Please stay away from the dog” he repeats.

“But I want to kiss your dog goodnight” Idiot of the year said again.

“No mate you don’t understand, this dog can be very unpleasant and kissing him is not a good idea, bring him a biscuit tomorrow, but please stay away from him right now” the handler insists.

Anyway, the fool who wants to kiss the dog either refuses to listen or is temporarily blinded by love because he totally ignores the handler’s instructions and approaches the dog which is now growling like a bastard, and is being closely restrained on the shortest leash the handler can possibly manage.

As he gets within striking distance, he bends down and places his hand under the dogs chin and tries to lift up its snout in order to deliver the kiss he is so insistent upon giving the animal. At the same time he puts his face close to the dog and puckers up. The dog, however, has other ideas because it either been through this before, (I say this because we had heard that some handlers did have certain dodgy habits regarding their canine charges……..(o.k. sorry lads, I’ll get me coat!!), and does not want to swap spit with the Rock, or it is just an extremely aggressive snogger.

The dog manages to evade the outstretched hand of the Rockape, and ducks underneath it, it then brings its head up and manages to lock its teeth into both his top and bottom lips. To its credit the dog obviously knows it has full control, because it didn’t shake its head as dogs usually do, it bit down hard and held him there.

Everyone froze, including the handler, it was immediately obvious that if the dog gets the hump, the Rock loses his kissing tackle. No one knew what the fuck to do, so nobody did anything except the Rock, he just tried to scream, which is entirely understandable under the circumstances, but there again somewhat pointless when your mouth is anchored firmly closed by the front teeth of a very angry and very large Police dog.

Eventually after some soothing, calming and thankfully, very effective cajoling from the dog handler, our canine buddy is satisfied he has made his point and after a few more moments he releases the poor bastard from his grip. As the blokes stands up, blood begins to pour down his chin onto his shirt, and it then becomes apparent that Medical attention is urgently required. The idiot of the year and his buddies are seen to stagger off in the direction of the Field Surgical Team to wake up the duty Medic who, after listening to the Rockapes tale of woe, and having managed successfully not to piss himself laughing duly administers the required number of stitches in both his top and bottom lips.

We did hear afterwards that this was quite a painful exercise for the casualty because, seemingly having been woken from a deep and well needed sleep by the urgent needs of the idiot concerned, the Medic inadvertently administered less anaesthetic than was required. Therefore the stitches were felt rather more painfully than they should have been under normal circumstances. Well mistakes do happen, especially by tired, and pissed off medics when faced with dog snogging fuckwits!

I feel the general opinion of all of us following this incident, after we had stopped laughing, was only kiss the dogs you know or have met on leave, and only the ones you meet in the N.A.A.F.I. And never, ever kiss one you suspect of having Hannibal Lecter tendencies!