The dogs, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow.
As I mentioned before, SEAL dogs are even trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem or with their handlers or solo, if the jump is into water.
Last year canine parachute instructor Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up; the altitude that transoceanic passenger jets fly at. Both Forsythe and Cara were oxygen masks and skin protectors for the jump.
Here’s a photo from that jump, taken by Andy Anderson for K9 Storm Inc. (more about them shortly).
As well, the dogs are faithful, fearless, ferocious, incredibly frightening and efficient attackers. I have seen it reported repeatedly that the teeth of SEAL war dogs are replaced with titanium implants that are stronger, sharper and scare-your-pants-off intimidating, but a U.S. Military spokesman has denied that charge, so I really don’t know (never having seen a canine SEAL face-to-face). I do know that I’ve never seen a photo of a war dog with anything even vaguely resembling a set of shiny metal chompers.
When the SEAL DevGru team (usually known by its old designation, Team 6) hit bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on May 2, Cairo’s feet would have been first on the ground. Like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible body armor and oufitted with high-tech equipment that included his “doggles”, specially designed and fitted dog googles with night-vision and infrared capability that would allow Cairo to see human heat forms through concrete walls.
Now where on earth would anyone get that kind of incredibly niche hi-tech doggie gear? From Winnipeg, of all places. Jim and Glori Slater’s Manitoba hi-tech mom-and-pop business, K9 Storm Inc., has a well deserved worldwide reputation for designing and manufacturing probably the best body armor available for police and military dogs. Working dogs in 15 countries around the world are currently protected by their K9 Storm body Armor.
And then there are the special hi-tech add-ons that made the K9 Storm especially appealing to the U.S. Navy Seals, who bought four of K9 Storm Inc.’s top-end Intruder “canine tactical assault suits” last year for $86,000.
You can be sure Cairo was wearing one of those four suits when he jumped into bin Laden’s lair. Here’s an explanation of all the K9 Storm Intruder special features:
Just as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp point of the American military machine, so too are their dogs at the top of a canine military heirarchy. In all, the U.S. military currently has about 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed around the world, with roughly 600 now in Afghanistan and Iraq. Several of the photos I have included here are from Foreign Policy, as you will see. Othe photos are from K9 Storm Inc..
As for the ethics of sending dogs to war, that’s pretty much a moot point, don’t you think? If it’s ethical to send humans into combat, then why not dogs?
At least the U.S. now treats its war dogs as full members of the military. At the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. combat dogs there were designated as “surplus military equipment” and left behind when the American forces pulled out.