Dogs have been used by soldiers throughout history; the Romans had whole attack formations just of dogs. Today, dogs have become an amazing resource in the new war front: they are the single best detectors of IEDs that we have.
IEDs, of course, are “improvised explosive devices” that are often buried underground and are triggered by someone walking or driving over them. Thousands of American soldiers and Iraqi and Afghani civilians have been killed by these devices.
Dogs have been trained to literally sniff out these devices, allowing soldiers to disarm them before anyone is hurt.
Dogs have saved hundreds of lives this way.
The Atlantic recently featured the war dogs in Afghanistan.
These last 12 months have been the year of the war dog. Today marks the first anniversary of the Osama bin Laden mission and the report that a canine known as Cairo was assigned to the elite Navy Seals team that hunted down the world’s most wanted terrorist.
Unfortunately, even though these dogs cost less than the fancy robots the military has been using, and as the Atlantic article points out, can do far more, there are rumors that the budget for the canine units may be decreased. The author of the Atlantic piece is pretty sure this is a bad idea, and a decision made out of ignorance.
This leads me to believe that those making the decisions about our canine-funding dollars haven’t observed our dogs and handlers doing their job. If they had, they would be asking themselves how a remote-controlled robot could careen around a series of tight doorways with equal speed and agility of a dog. Or scale an 8-foot wall, or navigate a low-hanging barbed-wire fence, or a muddy ditch in the pitch black of night. How about sensing danger that isn’t buried in the ground? Because these are all things a dog can do.
Hopefully, the military and the US government will change their minds and let the canine units stand. Seems like they make some of the best soldiers out there.
Read the whole article at the Atlantic, and enjoy the amazing photos. Then tell your politicians to keep funding the Canine Units.
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