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#1
dieselpowered

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War Dogs
There's a reason they brought one along to get Osama bin Laden!
By Rebecca Frankel
May 4, 2011

Dogs have been fighting alongside U.S. soldiers for more than 100 years, seeing combat in the Civil War & WW I. But their service was informal; only in 1942 were canines officially inducted into the U.S. Army. Today, they're a central part of U.S. efforts in Iraq & Afghanistan...as of early 2010 the U.S. Army had 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed (the largest canine contingent in the world). And these #s will continue to grow as these dogs become an ever-more-vital military asset.

So it should come as no surprise that among the 79 commandos involved in Operation Neptune Spear that resulted in Osama bin Laden's killing, there was 1 dog...the elite of the 4-legged variety. And tho the dog in question remains an enigma...another mysterious detail of the still-unfolding narrative of that historic mission...there should be little reason to speculate about why there was a dog involved: Man's best friend is a pretty fearsome warrior.

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Above, a U.S. soldier w/the 10th Special Forces Group & his dog leap off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during water training over the Gulf of Mexico as part of exercise Emerald Warrior on 3/1/2011.

Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez, USAF / DoD

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Daredevil dogs: The question of how the dog got into bin Laden's compound is no puzzle...the same way the special ops team did, by being lowered from an MH-60s helicopter. In fact, USAF dogs have been airborne for decades, tho the earliest flying dogs accompanied Soviet forces in the ‘30s.

Dogs usually jump in tandem w/their trainers, but when properly outfitted w/flotation vests they can make short jumps into water on their own. A U.S. Navy SEAL, Mike Forsythe, & his dog, Cara...pictured above...recently broke the world record for "highest man/dog parachute deployment" by jumping from 30,100’.

Courtesy K9 Storm, Inc.

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The scent of war: According to Mike Dowling, a former Marine Corps dog handler who served in Iraq, there's a simple explanation for why the Navy SEALs took a dog along on the Osama raid: "A dog's brain is dominated by olfactory senses. "In fact, Dowling says, a dog can have up to 225 million olfactory receptors in their nose...the part of their brain devoted to scent is 40 times greater than that of a human.

"When you're going on a mission," Dowling says, "a raid or a patrol, insurgents are sneaky...they like to hide stuff from you. But a dog can smell them. [Think about] Saddam Hussein. What if Osama had been [hiding] in a hole in the ground? A dog could find that. A dog could alert them to where he's hiding because of the incredible scent capabilities. You can only see what you can see. You can't see what you don't see. A dog can see it thru his nose."

Above U.S. Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on 7/2/2009.

Manpreet Romana/AFP/Getty Images

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It's not the gear that makes the dog: Military working dogs (MWDs in Army parlance) may not enjoy all the privileges of being full-fledged soldiers, but the U.S. military no longer considers them mere equipment. (The war dogs deployed to Vietnam during that conflict were classified as "surplus equipment" & left behind.) Today, MWDs are outfitted w/equipment of their own...a range of specialized gear that includes Doggles (protective eye wear), body armor, life vests, gas masks, long-range GPS-equipped vests, & high-tech canine "flak jackets."

Photo Courtesy of K9 Storm, Inc.

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In August 2010, The Register, a British online tech publication, reported that "top-secret, super-elite U.S. Navy SEAL special forces are to deploy heavily armored bulletproof dogs equipped w/infrared nightsight cameras & an 'intruder communication system' able to penetrate concrete walls." The article also reported that the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Group had "awarded an $86,000 contract to Canadian firm K9 Storm, Inc. for the supply of 'Canine Tactical Assault Vests' for wear by SEAL dogs." The K9 catalogue boasts an array of high-tech canine devices, from storm lights to long lines & leads to an assortment of vests...assault, aerial insertion, & patrol-SWAT...which are rated from "excellent" to "good" in protecting the animal from harm due to everything from bullets to ice picks.

Photo Courtesy of K9 Storm, Inc.

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Lethal weapons: Not all military dogs are trained to kill. According to the USAF, a dog only enters advanced training after a basic obedience program is successfully completed. The focus of this more intensive training is "controlled aggressiveness" in which the dog is "taught to find a suspect or hostile person in a building or open area; to attack, w/out command, someone who is attacking its handler; to cease an attack upon command at any point after an attack command has been given..." Make no mistake, these animals can be lethal weapons: "The average German Shepherd's bite exerts between 400 & 700 lbs of pressure," according to the USAF.

Above, a U.S. Army soldier trains an attack dog at Camp Forward Operating Base Wilson in Zari district in southern Kandahar province on 10/21/2010.

Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images

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Fierce protectors: Military dogs & their handlers often form deep bonds...it's an essential part of the canine-handler relationship that is specifically built into their training regimen. The personal attachments are often so intense that it can take weeks of training before a dog can begin working w/a new handler.

Not only are these dogs fierce assault weapons, they are loyal guardians. When Private 1st Class Colton Rusk was shot after his unit came under Taliban sniper fire during a routine patrol in Afghanistan, Rusk's bomb-sniffing dog, Eli, crawled on top of his body, attacking anyone...including Rusk's fellow Marines...who tried to come near him. Rusk did not survive the assault, but Eli was granted early retirement so he could live w/Rusk's family.

In the photo above, Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler uses an over-the-shoulder carry to hold his dog, Argo II, at Hill AFB (UT) on 3/4/2011. The exercise helps build trust, loyalty & teamwork.

USAF photo/Airman 1st Class Allen Stokes

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The nose knows: A canine's olfactory powers are well known...dogs are now even being used to sniff out rare types of cancer...& that natural ability hasn't gone unnoticed by the U.S. military. When President Barack Obama traveled to Asia last fall, an elite team of 30 bomb-sniffing dogs were part of his security entourage. (All in all, it was a pretty cushy assignment: The dogs stayed in 5-star hotels & rode in vehicles tailored to their comfort & safety.)

More remarkable still are vapor-wake dogs. Scientists at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine have genetically bred & specially trained canines to not only detect stationary bombs or bomb-making materials, but identify & alert their handler to the moving scent of explosive devices & materials left behind in the air, say, as a suicide bomber walked thru a crowd...all w/out ever tipping off the perpetrator. While not as expensive as some military-trained dogs, the cost of breeding & training these dogs cost is not cheap at around $20,000 each.

Above, U.S. sergeant Matthew Templet & his bomb-sniffing dog Basco search for the explosives in an abandoned house in Haji Ghaffar village during a clearance patrol in Zari district of Kandahar province on 12/27/2010.

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

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The best of the best: U.S. & allied forces have been fighting a losing battle against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan. In the 1st 8 months of 2010 there were more roadside bombs in Afghanistan than in the same period in 2009.

In October 2010, the Pentagon announced that after 6 years & $19 billion spent in the attempt to build the ultimate bomb detector technology, dogs were still the most accurate sniffers around. The rate of detection w/the Pentagon's fanciest equipment...drones & aerial detectors...was a 50% success rate, but when a dog was involved it rose 30%.

Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images

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A canine surge: Over the last 2 years, there has been an effort to rapidly increase the # of IED detection dogs in Afghanistan & Iraq. Currently, the Marine Corps has 170 bomb-sniffing dogs, but has plans to deploy as many as 600 dogs to their program before September 2012. In late 2010 the Marines have also awarded a contract to American K-9 Interdiction for "as much as $35 million" to train & kennel their dogs.

In February, Marine Commandant General James Amos stated that he'd like to see "a dog w/every patrol."

Above, U.S. Marines attached to 1st Battalion, 6th regiment, Charlie Company relax w/their bomb-sniffing dogs Books & Good One in Huskers camp on the outskirts of Marjah in central Helmand on 1/25/2010.

#2
Berd

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Real neat read, thanks for posting.

#3
rizzo

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I have a special place in my heart for Work Dogs and Warrior K-9s. My father worked with the War Dogs in the Army, including time in Vietnam, and his stories to me while growing up always built a deep respect for dogs in general but especially those Working K-9s.

Ever since my Dad got back from Vietnam, he has always had several dogs, and he treats them like a close friend. It's amazing the things he can teach dogs to do.

#4
Kevinjs1

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That is very cool. Thanks for sharing bud! :good:

#5
TCB Firearms

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Woof!

#6
dauph

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I would love to adopt one of those dogs.

#7
Bounce

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#8
Antman

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Good post!
My son is a K9 Officer. These dogs are a great asset to our military and law enforcement.

#9
Bombguy

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The Anti-Tank DOG is not a joke. The Germans tried that in WWII. What they discovered however was that when the Brits shot at the dog he would run back to his handler or go and hide under a German tank.

Edited by Bombguy, 11 January 2012 - 08:44 AM.






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