Skip to comments.Inspiring Pictures of U.S. Combat Dogs in Action
Posted on 05/13/2011 11:40:28 AM PDT by Nachum
They rarely get glory. Their funerals arent broadcast on TV. And theyll never ask for praise. But there are 2,700 of these soldiers serving in the U.S. military. Who are they? Theyre furry, have long noses, and walk on four legs. They are the militarys canines.
In fact, the New York Times reports that one such dog was involved in the raid on Osama bin Laden, sparking a wave of interest in what is becoming an essential tool in the war on terror.
In 2007, the Marines began a pilot program in Afghanistan with nine bomb-sniffing dogs, a number that has grown to 350 and is expected to reach nearly 650 by the end of the year, the Times says. Over all, there are some 2,700 dogs on active duty in the American military. A decade ago, before the Sept. 11 attacks, there were 1,800.
The dogs are used for everything from tracking, to search-and-rescue, to bomb-sniffing. While the breeds have traditionally been Shepherds, increasingly the military is turning to Labradors:
Within the military, the breeds of choice are generally the German shepherd and a Belgian shepherd, or Malinois, but Marines in Afghanistan rely on pure-bred Labrador retrievers because of the dogs good noses and nonaggressive, eager-to-please temperaments. Labs now accompany many Marine foot patrols in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan,
(Excerpt) Read more at theblaze.com ...
I think the military dogs are wonderful. However, I ponder the logic about Marines and Labs? I get the idea that Labs have good noses but because they are non-aggressive? Non-aggressive to whom? Don’t you want a dog that can defend the soldiers or Marines over one that will lick you to death?
Ping the rest of the kennel, Joe. This is a good one.
Maybe they had a problem with the German Shepherds being overly protective of their masters with other US personnel. I doubt they want the dog to attack the enemy.
I recall reading that in WWII, dogs who were family pets were borrowed by the military to serve in the war, then, if they survived, returned to the family at the end of their service. I often wondered how these canine veterans readjusted to civilian life. There’s a good story in there somewhere, kind of the dog’s version of “The Best Years of Our Lives”.
The Labs are absolutely unsurpassed at hunting out hidden stuff. My oldest dog, a small (38#) and demure Chocolate Lab, will find you a downed cock pheasant in the middle of an overgrown 3 acre field, no problem. She'll wind it before she gets off the road. She once found a duck nobody else could locate -- it was in the middle of a 20 foot long 18" drainage culvert. She DOVE into the culvert, flushed the duck out the other end, whoa'ed on command while it was shot, then retrieved it.
And Labs are bred to WANT to find hidden stuff in the worst way. You just direct it to pheasants, or mallard ducks, or explosives.
On the other hand, while they are not attack dogs, they will defend when the chips are down. My Choc once stared down a stray dog that was stalking us . . . and she has gotten between me and what she perceived as a threat many times. And those long jaws built to hold mallards and Canadas are just chock full of sharp teeth . . . .
Not saying anything against the Malinois and Shepherds, which (when well bred) are superb at patrol and guard work. But the Labs are best at what they do.
I believe they use a couple of different breeds depending on the mission. They use Belgian Mals, which are well-suited to the work you describe. Dogs are specifically chosen because basically they’d rather bite you than do anything else. If they’re hesitant to bite they get kicked from the program. I call them Search & Destroy dogs. These are *intense* dogs.
There is a special called “War Dogs of the Pacific” shown frequently on the Military Channel. Most of the dogs were able to return to civilian life and some are highlighted.
(Warning, don’t watch this show with anyone you don’t want to see you cry - it will bring the strongest man to tears. But it is great.)
WASHINGTON Marines were on a foot patrol last fall in the Taliban strongholdof Marja, Afghanistan, when they shot and killed a lethal threat: a local dog that made the mistake of attacking the Marines Labrador retriever.
Capt. Manuel Zepeda, the commander of Company F, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, was unapologetic. If the Lab on the patrol had been hurt, the Marines would have lost their best weapon for detecting roadside bombs and would have called for a medevac helicopter, just as they would for a human. An attack on the Lab was an attack on a fellow warrior...
BTW, the story I’m told is that the dogs have earned such an awesome reputation for sniffing out mines that the brilliant terrorists have figured out they have to bury the mines deeper so the dogs can’t smell them. Which basically renders the mine ineffective since they’re having to bury so deep. Pretty great, huh?
Here’s a link... http://www.uswardogs.org/index.html
I choke up just thinking about it.
Non-aggressive, maybe, but I pity the poor soul that threatens my wife or son or me. My black and my chocolate will have none of that. Speaking from experience. They are also extremely intelligent.
Thanks, I now have it bookmarked.