A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

The 80th Commando

Animals in War

When Animals Are Drafted
For 5,000 years they’ve been fighting our wars with us

War Horses – the Engines of Battle
A brief timeline of “the supreme animals of war”

For Kittens of War, Marines are Heroes
Rescued from the firing, now living happily ever after

All Creatures Great and Small
Elephants and pigeons on the battlefield

When Soldiers Deploy
What happens to their pets?

The 80th Commando
The dog who went after Osama bin Laden

Animal Soldiers Go Hi-Tech
Dolphins and bats as conscripts in war

Battle Buddy Now Therapy Donkey
Smoke settles in at his new home in Nebraska

Warrior Dog Gets Stem Cell Therapy
Basco’s hip healed from arthritis

Animals, Conspiracies and ‘The Avengers’
Testing out our weapons of war

Should We Be Testing Weapons of War on Animals?
Behind the scenes at secret laboratories

Stray Dogs of War Take a Bow
A special appearance at a prestigious dog show

The Most Decorated Dog
Sgt. Stubby – a World War I hero

The Lion of Afghanistan
How the King of Beasts became a sacrificial victim in a world gone astray

Cara, a Special Forces dog, on a parachute jump from 30,100 feet (with oxygen), typical of the work of dogs in these teams. Photo by Andy Anderson/K9 Storm

Everything to do with the Special Forces is cloaked in mystery, including the identity of the 80th member of the team that raided the bin Laden compound: a canine.

We don’t even know what kind of dog he is – most likely a German shepherd or Belgian Malinois. We only know that dogs are often critically important members of military teams. Last year, General David Petraeus said the military needed more dogs. “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” he said.

K9 Storm mentions that the assault vest “defeats a combination of ballistic and ice pick threats.” The “aerial insertion vest” is also said to be able to withstand damage from single and double-edged knives. Protection against shrapnel and gunfire may also be provided.

Typically, dogs on raids like the bin Laden one check the location for explosives, including for booby trapped door handles. They also catch people who try to escape the raid.

Dogs can be equipped with cameras, armor and life jackets

Navy SEAL dogs can be equipped with hi-tech night-sight cameras that enable other members of the team to see what the dogs are seeing. (One of these camera kits can cost $20,000.) The dogs are also kitted out in camouflaged armor and, if they may be parachuting near water, a self-inflating life-jacket.

According to the New York Times, there are approximately 600 dogs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among them are Labs who go ahead of patrols to sniff out IEDs that may be planted along the way.

More info: Slate explains more about military, including how they’re teamed with their handlers. And The Daily has an article on how dogs “can take a bite out of terror.”

What do you say? There’s a long history of dogs serving in the military. But some people say they shouldn’t be used this way. What’s your opinion? Let us know in a comment below or on Facebook.

What you can do: Retired military dogs need good homes. You can learn more about them and how to adopt them here.