Wednesday, May 11, 2011

War Dogs

One of the “assets” taken on the raid to kill Osama bin Laden by the Navy SEALs was a dog. They brought it along because even in our age of high technology, nothing can “smell out explosives” as quickly or as reliably as man’s best friend. I think it’s a good time to write a little blog about the valuable contribution these valuable and highly trained dogs make to keeping our troops safe.

Dogs of war have been used by the military for years. They have been trained to seek out the enemy, to warn their human companions against sneak attacks, to guard compounds and personnel, even to attack and hold an enemy at bay until his two-legged soldier can take the enemy into custody.

The current term for these dogs is Military Working Dog (MWD). These days MWDs come equipped with specially designed gear to help them do even more in combat. Kevlar vests protect dogs against gunshots or knife attacks. They wear special goggles and masks so they can jump out of aircraft to get behind enemy lines or perform sneak attacks, as in the case with the Osama bin Laden raid. They can also be equipped with head-mounted cameras so their controllers can send them into places they can’t go to be able to scout out a situation undetected. Even more amazingly, these dogs can be equipped with canine ‘ear buds’ so commands can be given remotely.

There have been reports of these dogs having their canine teeth replaced with titanium metal to increase their bite and hold ratio strength.

Although the Navy has confirmed the presence of one these super-trained, super-equipped dogs in the recent Osama bin Laden raid, no more information is forthcoming, including the breed, but an educated guess would suggest the breed used in the raid was a Belgian Malinois. The Belgian Malinois is a dog breed widely used, along with the more commonly known German Shepherd, known for following commands, working hard and for as long as a decade once trained. They are also extremely intelligent, highly trainable and obedient, love to work to almost an excess, plus as trainers and on-duty companion soldiers in the field have noted, ”They have a big heart.”

Being smaller than a German Shepherd, a Belgian Malinois can get into tighter spaces than German Shepherds or other large breed dogs commonly used in military and/or rescue operations, making them more valuable in stealth operations. The Belgian Malinois is highly deployed as part of Isreai Police and Military units.

According to Belgian Malinois rescuer and trainer Mary Frances Betts, Malinois require a heightened and sustained level of stimulation -- well beyond the usual two walks a day of typical family care. Adoption of these dogs is not recommended except for those individuals who already work with and fully understand the breed (you know, like a retired Navy SEAL, maybe).

Live Long and Prosper....

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