Military War Dogs
War dogs have been used by the U.S. military for more than 100 years. They have seen combat in the Civil War and World War I.Since World War II, some dogs have even held an actual rank in the military. as of early 2010 the U.S. Army had the largest contingent of active-duty dogs deployed in the world Currently, some 3,000 dogs serve with the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The earliest dogs to fly accompanied Soviet forces in the 1930s and U.S. Air Force dogs have also been doing so for decades. Dogs and trainers usually jump in tandem, but they can make short jumps into water on their own when properly outfitted with flotation vests .
The first U.S. dog to take a “military parachute free fall” was Pal, a 46-pound German shepherd, in 1969. He made that jump with Sergeant First Class Jesse Mendez, a scout dog trainer during the Vietnam War. “Dogs don’t perceive height difference…They’re more likely to be bothered by the roar of the engines, but once we’re on the way down, that doesn’t matter and they just enjoy the view. So long as they’re with their handlers they’re loving life”
Today, these canine commandos play a central role in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, the Navy purchased four tactical vests for dogs attached to SEAL units. These vests include night vision and other equipment, allowing the dogs to operate up to 1,000 yards away from the handlers.
Cairo the elite canine commando of Operation Neptune Spear that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s killing, was one of the four-legged elite. Man’s best friend is a pretty fearsome warrior! However contrary to suggestions neither Cairo nor any other of the canine commandos possess titanium teeth!!
“The only reason that a dog would have any titanium would be medical. Dogs sometimes lose teeth, and their handlers or trainers would have them replaced. Our proper reaction is pity for the creature.” ~ Spencer Ackerman.
Not only are these dogs fierce assault weapons, they are loyal guardians. When Private First Class Colton Rusk was shot after his unit came under Taliban sniper fire during a routine patrol in Afghanistan, Rusk’s bomb-sniffing dog, Eli, crawled on top of his body, attacking anyone, including Rusk’s fellow Marines, who tried to come near him. Rusk did not survive the assault, but Eli was granted early retirement so he could live with Rusk’s family.
Other legendary war dogs that illustrate the bonding between men and dogs include the three stray dogs living on an Afghanistan base. Between them they saved the lives of 50 soldiers sleeping in the barracks. By wrestling a suicide bomber to the ground, they forced him to detonate also saving the life of the fatally wounded handler who with his dying breath called for his bomb-sniffing dog. The dog’s trainer was killed in Afghanistan, and shortly afterwards his dog was to die too, of a broken heart.