Dog That Cornered Osama Bin Laden
When U.S. President Barack Obama went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky,
for a highly publicized, but very private meeting with the commando
that killed Osama bin Laden, only one of the 81 members of the
SEAL DevGru unit was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog.
Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S.
Navy SEALs, is a Belgian
Malinois. The Malinois breed is similar to German shepherds but
more compact, with an adult male weighing in the 30-kilo range.
German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military
the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem
parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by
Labrador retrievers are also favoured by various military organizations
around the world.
their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly
skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform
extraordinary military missions by SEa, Air and Land (thus the acronym).
The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military
teams to which they are attached: With a sense of smell 40 times
greater than a human’s, the dogs are trained to detect and
identify both explosive material and hostile or hiding humans.
The dogs are twice as fast as a fit human, so anyone trying to
escape is not likely to outrun Cairo or his buddies.
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 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 transoceanic passenger
jets fly at.
Both Forsythe and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors
Here’s a photo from that jump, taken by Andy Anderson for
K9 Storm Inc.
(more about those folks shortly).
As well, the dogs are faithful, fearless and 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
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
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
four of the first on the ground.
And like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible
Armour and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included “doggles —specially
designed and fitted dog googles with night-vision and infrared
capability that would even allow Cairo to see human heat forms
where on earth would anyone get that kind of incredibly niche hi-tech
From Winnipeg, of all places.
Jim and Glori Slater’s Manitoba
hi-tech mom-and-pop business, K9 Storm
Inc., has a deserved worldwide reputation for designing and manufacturing
probably the best body Armour available for police and military
dogs. Working dogs in 15 countries around the world are currently
their K9 Storm body Armour.
Jim Slater was a canine handler on the Winnipeg Police Force
crafted a Kevlar protective jacket for his own dog, Olaf, in the
Soon Slater was making body Armour for other cop dogs, then the
military and soon the world.
standard K9 Storm vest also has a load-bearing harness system that
makes it ideal for tandem rappelling and parachuting.
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
$86,000. You can be sure Cairo was wearing one of those four suits
jumped into bin Laden’s lair.
Here’s an explanation of all the K9 Storm Intruder special
as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp
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
deployed around the world, with roughly 600 now in Afghanistan
Here’s the link to a dandy photo essay about U.S. war dogs
appeared in the journal Foreign Policy.
Several of the photos here are from
Foreign Policy, as you
will see. Other 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
At least the U.S. now treats its war dogs as full members of
At the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. combat dogs there were
as “surplus military equipment” and left behind when
American forces pulled