More than a decade of war has numbed the American public to the human brutality and suffering on the battlefield. But military dogs in harm’s way are a different story.
The most recent example of this is a dog that has been captured by the Taliban. A video posted on the YouTube account of a group associated with the Taliban that shows a Belgian Malinois in a flak jacket being held at gunpoint has gone viral, highlighting the use of canines in war.
“Allah gave victory to the mujahedeen!” one of the fighters says in the video. “Down with them, down with their spies!”
A Taliban spokesman confirmed to The Washington Post that the video was legit.
“The mujahedeen valorously put tough resistance against the troops for hours,” spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said. “The dog was of high significance to the Americans.”
DOD disputes the claim that it is an American dog. The Pentagon said the dog belonged to a British Special Forces group that engaged in a firefight in late December.
Dogs have been used by soldiers since Alexander the Great’s dog Peritas accompanied him on some of the same battlefield where the United States is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. During the Civil War, dogs were used as scouts and messengers. They were used to detect poison gas during World War I, and used to find Japanese positions during World War II. National Geographic says dogs in Vietnam, where soldiers used them to lead patrols, saved 10,000 lives.
In recent years, improvements in training have allowed dogs to play a more sophisticated role on the battlefield. They still sniff out bombs and drugs. But they also are trained to parachute and repel with soldiers. British Special Forces have even parachuted attack dogs into Taliban strongholds to take down insurgents.
A dog was also used in the SEAL Team 6 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, helped clear the compound and sniff for bombs. The military dogs are held in such high esteem that they’re ranked above the soldiers who handle them (the soldier who handled the dog in question must be devastated).
The fate of the dog in the video is unclear. In the Muslim world, dogs are not held in the same esteem as they are in the west. Many consider them dirty animals that make humans unsuitable for prayer.
Fortunately for the dog, he doesn’t appear to be afraid of the soldiers. At one point, he wags his tail, and appears a bit confused throughout.
The upside of the video is a reminder to the pet-loving American public that there’s still a war going on. The downside is that the dogs who participate in the war seem to get more attention than many of the humans who handle them.
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