Live fire exercise in Iraq designed to build teamwork between the dogs and their handlers.
Pics by Spc. Derek Mustard
While the animals used in war have changed over the past century, the need to support them has not. Today, canines are the most important animal in war. In contrast to horses, which were easy targets for the enemy’s weapon of choice, dogs are the perfect animal to help defend troops from the enemy’s most potent weapon today: the improvised explosive device. These hidden bombs are the “number-one threat,” .
Dogs’ sense of smell is roughly 50 times better than that of humans, meaning they can sniff out IEDs before the bombs have an opportunity to do any damage. Acting alone, the military only locates about half of the IEDs planted in Afghanistan and Iraq. But with dogs, the detection rate increases to 80 percent. They are an invaluable asset for freedom of movement of ground patrols.
Understandably, these military working dogs and their handlers develop a strong kinship on the battlefield. Inexplicably, reuniting them after their respective tours of duty is difficult.