Even ISIS is sometimes hapless and unprepared. But it can take a very special warrior to reveal that.
In a recent firefight in northern Iraq, one such warrior was on-hand to give ISIS fighters more than they bargained for. (H/t: Task and Purpose) The warrior’s name is as yet unrevealed. All the public knows is that it was a German shepherd military working dog.
British special forces (SAS) soldiers who had been training Kurdish Peshmerga were caught in the firefight when their four-vehicle convoy was ambushed by ISIS. One of the vehicles struck an IED, and the soldiers had to fight from improvised positions when they came under heavy fire. As they tried to make their position more defensible, they were hit from the rear.
According to the UK media report, a U.S. soldier was embedded with the SAS team, and he was apparently the dog handler. When the ISIS attackers moved in from the rear, he released the German shepherd (which the report refers to as an Alsatian):
“The Alsatian was with the team in a training role but when the troops came under fire it was desperate to get involved.
“It could sense the tension and had an overpowering urge to protect its handler and the other troops.
“When the dog was unleashed it went after the greatest threat without consideration for its own safety – this is what they are trained to do.”
The canine warrior made short work of the ISIS goons:
The militants tried to shoot the dog but missed. It then jumped at one of the terrorists, biting his neck and face.
The dog then turned on another jihadi, savaging his arms and legs. Both men turned and fled screaming.
As the Daily Star’s source points out:
“A snarling Alsatian running at you is very frightening and probably not something the jihadis had encountered. The dog did its job and returned to its handler with its tail wagging.”
The dog’s heroics gave the team the extra time it needed until U.S. air support arrived to knock out the attacking force. SAS credits the dog with saving lives and giving the team the opportunity to escape the ambush.
This shepherd’s role is as an attack dog; the Star says its sources think this incident marked the first time an attack dog saved British lives in combat, in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
But bomb-sniffing dogs have saved numerous lives in both conflicts. Probably the most famous in Britain was Treo, a black Labrador who was awarded the Dickin Medal for gallantry by a war service animal in 2010. (Treo died recently at the age of 14. LU commemorated another, most unique Dickin Medal awardee in 2014.)
When they perform at the level Treo did, the dogs become targets themselves. In 2008, “within weeks of Treo’s arrival, the Royal Marines were intercepting enemy radio messages [that] mentioned targeting the ‘black dog.’”
(ISIS will undoubtedly find ways to do the same against coalition working dogs in Iraq – a fact K9 handlers must always be on the alert for, especially given ISIS’s often gruesome methods.)
One of the best known military working dogs in the U.S. is a German shepherd named Bruno, whose handler, Marine Sgt Adam Cann of Davie, Florida, in 2006 became the first Marine K9 handler to be killed in action since Vietnam. Bruno won his spurs in numerous security actions in Iraq; he won his enduring place in American hearts in a viral photo of his inconsolable vigil at Adam Cann’s grave.
Joseph Parker, at Examiner.com, describes the bomb attack that took Cann’s life:
Cann and Bruno were in front of the Ramadi Glass and Ceramics Works. Over 1,000 Iraqis were lined up for a police recruiting event. While the event was going on a car overran a security check-point causing panic to spread through the crowd.
Minutes later, Cann spotted a suspicious-looking man and approached him. Seconds later the suspect detonated a vest he was wearing that contained 40-pounds of explosives.
The vest was filled with bearing which mortally wounded Cann. Bruno, his military working dog, was also wounded on his left side from the blast. As Adam lay there Bruno laid next to him putting his head on Adam’s chest to further shield him from additional harm. Bruno was medevaced to Al Asad Airbase in Al Anbar province.
Cann was so close to the insurgent that his body absorbed the blast, he died shielding two other Marines and his dog Bruno.
To all the military dogs, and military working animals, who have served so faithfully in war: Semper Fi.