Talk about a soldier’s best friend. Wonder if Peta has anything to say about this due to the fact that eight dogs have died thus far.
Members of Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) special forces have begun parachuting into enemy strongholds in Afghanistan with Taliban-seeking German shepherds strapped to their chests. Once on the ground, the dogs hunt for Taliban insurgents in buildings and — with cameras strapped to their heads sending back video — act as forward scouts for the British special forces unit. The work is every bit as dangerous for the dogs as it is for their human counterparts, The Guardian reports. Eight SAS paratrooper pups killed in combat thus far.
Though the missions are officially secret, earlier reports of the pups’ training shed some light on how the British special forces are likely using them. SAS pooches are trained for High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) jumps, in which parachutes are deployed at a high altitude and long horizontal distance away from a target location in order to allow jumpers to glide in without detection. The SAS dogs are trained to jump tethered to their handlers from heights as high as 25,000 feet and up to 20 miles away — or a 30 minute glide — from a target location. At that height, the lack of oxygen puts them at risk for hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, so the dogs are fitted with special masks to give them breathable air. The Brits reportedly borrowed the tactic from America’s super-secret Delta Force, which first trained dogs to make HAHO jumps.