Seriously, though, the New York Times went and found more fantastic things about current military dogs in action. They talked to Marine units in Afghanistan, who uses Labrador Retrievers as bomb sniffing dogs (instead of the typical German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois that are used by special forces, like the Navy SEALS).
In 2007, the Marines began a pilot program in Afghanistan with nine bomb-sniffing dogs, a number that has grown to 350 and is expected to reach nearly 650 by the end of the year. Over all, there are some 2,700 dogs on active duty in the American military. A decade ago, before the Sept. 11 attacks, there were 1,800.
“Most of the public isn’t aware of what these dogs add to national security,” said Gerry Proctor, a spokesman for training programs at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, including the Military Working Dog School. Dogs are used for protection, pursuit, tracking and search and rescue, but the military is also increasingly relying on them to sniff out the homemade bombs that cause the vast majority of American casualties in Afghanistan. So far, no human or human-made technology can do better.
And the cost to train some of these mutts? FORTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. [NY Times]
[Image via Mauricio Lima/NY Times]