Wednesday, August 03, 2011 Posted by Albert Kang
When U.S. President Barack Obama went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, last week for a highly publicized, but very private meeting with the commando team that killed Osama bin Laden, only one of the 81 members of the super-secret SEAL DevGru unit was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog.
(German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military but the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams. Labrador retrievers are also favoured by various military organizations around the world.)
Like 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, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow. As mentioned before, SEAL dogs are even trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo, if the jump is into water.
The dogs are faithful, fearless and ferocious —incredibly frightening and efficient attackers.
Jim Slater was a canine handler on the Winnipeg Police Force when he crafted a Kevlar protective jacket for his own dog, Olaf, in the mid-1990s. Soon Slater was making body Armour for other cop dogs, then the Canadian military and soon the world. The 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 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 hierarchy.