Mystery dog helps SEALs hunt down Osama | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Mystery dog helps SEALs hunt down Osama

delhi Updated: May 05, 2011 12:22 IST
The New York Times

Not only the identities of US Navy SEALs Team 6 commandos, that were part of the operation that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, but also a certain mystery canine are under speculation.

The New York Time reports, a dog was also a part of the troops that carried out the killing of Laden, which was personally monitored by US President Barack Obama.

Though not much is known about what may be the US' most courageous dog, it is being said that it was either a German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois.

This is not the first time dogs have by security forces in important missions. Gen David H Petraeus, commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, said last year that the military needed more dogs. "The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine," he told The New York Times.

So, what could have been the role of the dog in this operation? In the NYT, Maj William Roberts, commander of the Defense Department's Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, said the dog on the raid could have checked the compound for explosives and even sniffed door handles to see if they were booby-trapped.

Tech Sgt. Kelly A Mylott, the kennel master at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, cited another use. "When the dogs go after a suspect, they're trained to bite and hold them," Sergeant Mylott said.

Finally, 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 explained to the paper. "Dogs can be very intimidating in that situation."

Sergeant Mylott said that dogs got people's attention in ways that weapons sometimes did not. "Dogs can be an amazing psychological deterrent," she said.

The training of dogs in Navy SEAL teams and other Special Operations units is shrouded in secrecy. Maj. Wes Ticer, a spokesman for United States Special Operations Command, said the dogs' primary functions "are finding explosives and conducting searches and patrols."

"Dogs are relied upon," he continued, "to provide early warning for potential hazards, many times, saving the lives of the Special Operations Forces with whom they operate."

Navy SEAL members are trained to parachute from great heights and deploy out of helicopters with dogs.

The military uses a variety of breeds, but by far the most common are the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, which "have the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition," according to a fact sheet from the military working dog unit.