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The Four-Legged Member of the Navy Seal Team That Found Bin Laden

The Four-Legged Member of the Navy Seal Team That Found Bin Laden

Among the unnamed heroes in the raid on the Abbottabad compound where Osama Bin Laden was found and killed on Sunday is one bomb-sniffing German shepherd or Belgian Malinois whose identity is being closely guarded. The dog who was part of the Navy Seal team is one of some 600 canines serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their training by Navy Seal teams and other Special Operations units is, says the New York Times, top secret.

While the main duties of the dogs are to find explosives — dogs can beat the best machines and certainly humans at detecting bombs — and to conduct searches and patrols, dogs also can provide a “psychological deterrent,” according to Tech Sgt. Kelly A. Mylott, the kennel master at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. As any jogger knows, if you’re running, and running away, a dog is sure to run after you (and catch up). Dogs can be trained to run after a suspect, hold and bite them in the arms or legs.

Maj. William Roberts, commander of the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, describes how dogs could have played a crucial role on the raid on Bin Laden’s compound:

First, the dog could have quickly checked the compound for explosives and even sniffed the handle of the door to the house to see if it was booby-trapped.

And given that Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a narrow, dark hole beneath a two-room mud shack in Iraq, the Seal team might have brought the dog in case Bin Laden had built into his compound a hidden room, hole or other hiding place.

“Dogs are very good at detecting people inside of a building,” Major Roberts said.

Another use might have been to catch anyone escaping the compound in the first moments of the raid. A German shepherd or Belgian Malinois runs twice as fast as a human. Anyone who made it out of the compound in the first seconds of the raid could have been tracked down relatively quickly by the dog.

…dogs can be used to pacify an unruly group of people — particularly in the Middle East.

“There is a cultural aversion to dogs in some of these countries, where few of them are used as pets,” Major Roberts said. “Dogs can be very intimidating in that situation.”

Dogs can also be equipped with waterproof tactical vests that have infrared and night-vision cameras. Using a three-inch monitor from as far as a 1,000 yards away, handlers can immediately see what the dogs are seeing and communicate with the dogs via speaker. Four such vests cost $86,000.

A dog named Remco was posthumously awarded a Silver Star after he charged an insurgent’s hideout in Afghanistan.

These dogs who do so much can be severely injured  (as the dog Brin in the photo illustrating this post) and never get to go back home. Some die in the line of service.

Yes, they’re heroes.

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Photo of a dog named Brin who "saved lives by sniffing out landmines..been captured by the Taliban and survived a bomb blast" and Captain Mark Townsend by Just me....

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5:31AM PDT on Oct 5, 2011

Brin (pictured at the top of this article) was actually a stray who was found barking at a mound of stones on a road in Helmand. The stones concealed a hidden bomb devise that would have killed two of the lads. Brin was taken back to their patrol base where he became a much loved mascot. He was never trained but would go out on patrol with the troops taking them on paths that he seemed to know were safe. One day, during a severe firefight Brin was left behind as the troops were airlifted out. It was awful for them to have to leave him but not being an official army dog he was not allowed on the helicopter. Brin did not return tot he base as he had often done before and it was assumed he had not survived.
But the lads never forgot him and spread the word to the Afghan forces to keep and eye out for him. Eventually, word came out that he was being held captive as the Taliban thought he was a special army dog having found so many devises. A raid went through and Brin survived and was returned to the patrol base where he had been living. After a huge campaign Brin was rescued by the charity Nowzad and came to the UK in September 2010 where he now lives in East Sussex surrounded by forests. He recently received a Commendation for Loyalty from the PDSA...not bad for a skinny stray from Helmand who gave so much to so many.

4:06AM PDT on Aug 7, 2011


12:38PM PDT on Jul 7, 2011


2:49PM PDT on May 23, 2011

very touching story, feel bad the dogs are put in dangerous situations and like you said in your article many dont make it home and die and the ones that come home suffer many issues,anxiety being scare of many noises etc. They are truly heroes! sad they arent given the credit,love and care they deserve in many cases. Feel bad for those 600 dogs that are risking their lifes.......poor babies.

6:37PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Thank you Kristina. Very touching...

5:56PM PDT on May 10, 2011

So proud and filled with love for those dogs. :)

1:04AM PDT on May 10, 2011

Dogs cannot twell anyone if they want to do this job, so I do not agree to use them in such tasks that risk their lives..

12:55AM PDT on May 9, 2011

mireille, i agree with most of your post and it is a very thoughtful one..... and i am proud of the dog soldiers as well as the human soldiers.....but i get very sad and mad when i feel both are being taken advantage of and used or either never come home or if they do they have more problems. i want full disclosure so that we know what we are funding as a country and we get to demand that both the human and dog soldier is treated with respect and come home. i know that war=money. and to get that money the corporations will do just about anything to both human and animal. that is what needs to change. it breaks my heart how much dogs love us and then in the end what happens. the people in ww2 DONATED THEIR PETS TO 'THE WAR EFFORT' thinking they were really helping and the dogs would have a good life or come home. all that happened is they were either killed as training collateral damage or killed overseas either in combat or by purposefully friendly fire. yeah, real friendly. there is so much wrong with that , i dont even know where to begin.
but i agree, a dog will never not be your friend if you treat him right,and that is what breaks my heart. we are better than this. especially now, today with what we know.

5:20PM PDT on May 8, 2011

I don't mind the idea of dogs serving with the humans but let them come home. For the AR nuts dogs sence of smell is much better than a human and are valuble to save lives. I'm betting though dogs will be replaced eventaly.

2:53AM PDT on May 8, 2011

Let's be proud of the love of these dogs protecting our Soldiers and helping them to get home safe. Very sad that the dog on the picture died. He merits to be awarded a Cross as he is a Soldier of the great USA as well as human Soldiers. Don't forget how much dogs love us and help us even if they feel they will be sacrify. A dog never becomes your enemy...

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