(All images within this article were found on Google images.)
The military is an institution of each nation designed to protect its borders and international interests. It uses innumerable methods to maintain domestic and foreign peace. The main tools used are warcraft—airplanes, ships, ground vehicles, for example. However, another implement often overlooked is the use of animals of all kinds.
Animals, when properly trained, can significantly benefit the armies, navies, and air forces of the countries they serve. To begin, dogs—either German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois—are the most widely used animals in the military. Because of their excellent noses, they are trained to recognize and alert personnel of dangerous or illegal materials including include illicit narcotics, mines, or other explosives. They can also chase down fugitives and can be equipped with armored vests and night vision cameras. Thus, dogs are often members of special forces units. They can take part in parachuting or rappelling exercises. By the end of their careers, these dogs possess ninety-eight percent accuracy in their skills at detecting substances and weapons. Furthermore, they provide a sense of security and calm to the soldiers in their units.
Dolphins and sea lions perform many of the same operations as dogs in the water. They can be fitted with submarine cameras that allow them to detect underwater mines and retrieve lost equipment. In tests where pipes of different metals were buried several feet below the ocean floor, the dolphins were able to retrieve whatever pipe they were instructed to get. Another benefit to these marine animals is that they make very little noise and other militaries do not consider them a threat.
Some nations also disguise their weapons as animals. Currently, Turkey is developing an underwater drone/mine that appears as a stingray officially recognized as Wattozz. The drone can be equipped with cameras and/or explosives for surveillance or attacks—if the latter, several will be used at one time. Controlled by a computer on board a ship, Wattozz can lie concealed on the ocean floor until an enemy ship passes by. Then, it will quickly “swim” up to the hull, attach itself, and explode, crippling the ship.
Animals provide more than just tactical advantages. They are a comfort to handlers and all personnel that work with them. Many Navy and Coast Guard vessels have mascots, usually dogs or cats, which live on the ship during its missions. In fact, all Coast Guard stations have a mascot. In some cases, these mascots have been black bears!
Overall, creatures have many skills and talents unequaled by humans or technology and thus the appliance of those skills can significantly benefit the military. Researchers today continue to search for additional roles animals can play in benefiting the armed forces.
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Fantegrossi, Dina. “10 Things about Military Dogs.” Bark Post, 2015, barkpost.com/10-things-about-military-dogs/. Accessed 5 May 2018.
Lee, Jane J. “Military Dolphins and Sea Lions: What Do They Do and Who Uses Them?” National Geographic, 29 Mar. 2014, Military Dolphins and Sea Lions: What Do They Do and Who Uses Them? Accessed 5 May 2018.
Nelson, Jennifer. “9 Modern Uses for Military Dogs.” Iheartdogs iheartdogs.com/ 9-modern-uses-for-military-dogs/.