- Feb 8, 2007
- Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
This is a great story. I knew a lot of work went into the working dogs but I didn't realize how much specialized equipment was used with them, including the scary sounding titanium teeth. :eek: I would never want to be bitten by one of those dogs but definitely not with those chompers.
Hounded to Death
Osama mission shows how a good dog can take a bit out of terror
By Justin Rocket Silverman and Carmel Melouney Thursday, May 5, 2011
Their razor-sharp teeth are made from titanium, their body armor can withstand clouds of hot shrapnel, and they’ve been trained to wear oxygen masks for high-altitude skydives into enemy territory.
Photo: TSgt Manuel J. Martinez/USAF/DoD
A Special Forces soldier and his dog jump from a helicopter ramp during water training.
Say hello to the U.S. military’s dogs of war — including the bomb-sniffer that joined the hit squad of 79 Navy SEALs who took out Osama bin Laden in a compound in Pakistan last weekend.
Alex Dunbar, a former Marine who trains U.S. military dogs at his Close Quarter Battle K9 school in Colorado, told The Daily that the canine commando was most likely a German shepherd.
“They are trained in special building searches and working with night-vision cameras,” he said of the special training a Navy SEAL dog would receive at his canine military academy. “They are able to differentiate between a hostage and a terrorist. They are trained to helo-cast from a moving helicopter into water. They can work in multiple teams and take down multiple targets.”
The dog would have dropped into the battle zone strapped to the chest of one of the SEAL Team Six members as he rappelled from one of three Black Hawk helicopters landing at the terror chief’s secret lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Wearing body armor equipped with an infrared camera, the dog could stream live images to SEALs in other parts of bin Laden’s hideout, and back at the base. A radio mounted near the dog’s ears would have let SEALs in other parts of the compound give orders to the dog.
“The dog can literally be used as a homing missile — if they had some sort of scent of bin Laden, they could have used the dog to go right after him,” said Brandon Tyler Webb, a former SEAL who ran the sniper program at the Navy Special Warfare Command and wrote the book “21st-Century Sniper.”
“SEALs are the deadliest fighting force on the planet, and you better believe those dogs are the same,” he added. “They are not bred to prance around in a dog show. They have one mission in life and that is to assault targets with the team.”
Dunbar said the Team Six pooch was trained to be the ultimate soldier, just like its SEAL masters. The military’s four-legged warriors can be trained to sniff out explosives, find people hiding in buildings, and attack any non-SEAL holding a weapon.
SEAL dogs are outfitted with fearsome titanium chompers — at a cost of about $2,000 a tooth — which the Navy has done for years, he added. In addition to the sheer fear factor, their enhanced bite can pierce an enemy’s body armor.
“It’s just devastating what these teeth do when they get into someone,” Dunbar said. “It’s like being stabbed four times at once with a bone crusher.”
All branches of the U.S. military employ “working dogs” that are trained at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for combat operations before they are deployed worldwide. Base spokesman Gerry Proctor said the most prevalent type of dog used by the U.S. military to detect explosives is the Labrador, while Belgian Malinois dogs make the best patrollers.
As for why the name of the bin Laden-hunting hound is being kept secret, Proctor said the dog was treated as one of the team, and discussing its duties would be akin to discussing the actions of a SEAL Team Six commando.
“I can’t talk about that dog,” he replied.
Dogs have been used as messengers by the military since the time of the Roman legions, but modern-day fighting dogs are trained to sniff out enemy troops from up to 2 miles away.
The Department of Defense said there are currently 2,700 military working dogs on duty, almost 1,000 more than there were before 9/11.
And U.S. military officials have said there are more than 450 dogs deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last year, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said more military dogs were needed because “the capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine.”
Ironically, most U.S. military dogs are bought from vendors in Europe, because of the century-old tradition of breeding police-style working dogs there. And that goes for their doggie duds, too: Last year, the Navy awarded an $86,000 contract to Canadian firm K9 Storm Inc., which makes protective gear for dogs.
The Department of Defense also has its own breeding program, which has a goal to produce 100 suitable young adult working dogs per year. These dogs are raised using a “foster system” similar to Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The dog that helped take down bin Laden won’t be winning any medals — since there are none to honor a military service dog. The United States War Dogs Association is trying to change that, and has been petitioning the Department of Defense to issue medals to war dogs.
And after their tour of duty is over, aging military dogs generally are put up for adoption, so they can get back to doing what dogs do best.
“All these dogs are socialized and go back and play with their family after the mission,” said Dunbar. “They are truly super dogs.”
Titanium teeth and all.