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US Navy Seal dogs might be enjoying a surge in public admiration since the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, but the fact of the matter is that the Navy has been employing war dogs for decades. Trained to do most things a regular sailor can do and many things he can’t, these battle canines are elite warriors credited with saving thousands of lives. But don’t be caught on the wrong side of the battlefield, because these warriors can take a life just as easily as they can save one.
Most modern war dogs are trained to detect and engage in ways that humans simply can’t. This includes an astonishingly wide list of tasks that military K9s have been trained to carry out. The following is just a small sampling of these tasks, and obviously don’t include classified military functions that we can only guess at:
*Explosives detection: The breeds most commonly used by US Navy Seals- German Shepards, the Belgian Malinois, and Labrador Retrievers- possess a sense of smell that is 250 times that of a human. This means that they can detect virtually any explosive substance known. Additionally, they can detect accelerants, detonating devices, and even masking substances.
*Reconnaissance: Criminals who try to hide in underground tunnels, in hidden rooms or behind false walls have no chance of being undiscovered by a dog. These canines are so highly trained they can even detect how many targets are in a particular place, escape and report back to a handler.
*Tracking: US Navy Seal dogs are extremely adept at tracking any person through any terrain, over extremely long distances and in severe weather.
*Guarding: Just as the Romans did with their war dogs 2,000 years ago, some military experts have speculated that Navy dogs might be trained to guard or protect a specific person upon command, or to keep captives subdued without using restraints.
*Engaging the Enemy: A dog bites hard. But Navy special warfare dogs are trained to bite strategically and to bite to kill. With jaw pressure around 600 pounds per square inch, even bones are pulverized.
Today’s US Navy Seal dog is equipped nearly as well as its human counterparts. This includes armored goggles, body armor that can withstand bullet and knife or ice pick attacks, gas masks, oxygen masks, GPS, infrared camera, parachutes and even flak jackets.
With this type of training and equipment, US Navy Seal dogs save lives by being some of the most capable fighters on frontlines around the world.
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