Update: Bomb Dog Used in Osama bin Laden Raid
Following news reports that a bomb dog was among the 79 commandos involved with Operation Neptune Spear which resulted Osama bin Laden’s killing, more information continues to be released regarding bomb dogs used in military operations. According to data from early 2010, the US Army had 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. These numbers are sure to increase as these dogs are becoming an increasingly vital asset to the US military as the modern day enemy continues to use improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs.
As part of the bin Laden raid, the bomb dog had been lowered with a member of the special operations team from an MH-60s helicopter. This is standard practice for the highly-trained bomb dogs, who usually jump along with their trainers. However, some dogs are even provided with flotation vests when necessary that enable them to make short jumps into water all on their own.
The main reason as to why the Navy SEALs team was accompanied by a bomb dog during the bin Laden raid, according to former Marine Corps handler Mike Dowling, is because “A dog’s brain is dominated by olfactory senses.” Dowling explained that a dog can have up to 225 million olfactory receptors in their nose and that the part of a dog’s brain devoted to scent is 40 times greater than that of a human. Dowling provided an easy explanation: Soldiers can only see what they see, but “a dog can see it through his nose.”
Military working dogs (MWDs) are no longer considered mere equipment to soldiers. In fact, MWDs are now outfitted with equipment of their own including protective eye gear (doggles), body armor, life vests, gas masks and long-range GPS-equipped vests.
As proof of the worth of the MWDs, the Pentagon announced in October 2010 that bomb dogs were the most accurate of the military’s bomb detector technology. The Pentagon’s most technologically advanced equipment (drones and aerial detectors) had a 50 percent success rate of detection. When a bomb dog was involved, the success rate rose to 80 percent.
To learn more about the history of war dogs, please read the following article:
Learn about MSA's leading bomb dogs