But it’s a practice that may be coming to an end.
The Army has announced that it will bar nonmedical soldiers from participating in trauma training using live animals.
According to the Department of Defense: “Non-medical personnel are not authorized to participate in training that involves the use of animal models.”
Instead, soldiers will practice on models, actors and simulations. The move follows a requirement by Congress in February, directing the Pentagon to draw up a detailed plan to start relying less on animals and more on simulators.
Nonhuman animals have been used in training sessions since the Vietnam War. In 1983, animal protection groups learned of a plan to shoot dozens of anesthetized dogs strung on nylon mesh slings in an indoor, sound-proof firing range. A protest outside the home of Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger led him to ban the use of dogs in military experiments. But not other animals.
According to the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine:
Currently, the U.S. military uses live animals in combat trauma training. In some of these courses:
The legs of live goats are amputated one by one to cause severe hemorrhaging.
Live pigs have their throats cut open to create a surgical airway.
Plastic tubes are inserted between the ribs of pigs and into the chest cavity.
There’s still some doubt as to whether the military will fully comply or find a loophole. After all, in February the Army announced a $5 million contract bid for goats to use at U.S. combat medic training facilities over the next five years.
For more on how goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits, cats and other animals are used in military research and training, go here.