The Dog That Cornered Osama Bin Laden … not your standard K9…nor is the gear‏   44 comments

Cairo: War Dog of the US Navy SEALs (DevGru Unit)

(Elite K9 Commandos)

When U.S. President Barack Obama went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, last week for a highly publicized, but very private meeting with the commando team that killed Osama bin Laden, only one of the 81 members of the super-secret SEAL DevGru unit was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog. Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, is a Belgian Malinois. The Malinois breed is similar to German shepherds but smaller and more compact, with an adult male weighing in the 30-kilo range.

K9 Commandos

(German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military but the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem
parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams. Labrador retrievers are also favoured by various military organizations around the world

Tandum SEAL TeamsParachuting and Rappelling

Like their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions by SEa, Air and Land (thus the acronym). The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military teams to which they are attached: With a sense of smell 40 times greater than a human’s, the dogs are trained to detect and identify both explosive material and hostile or hiding humans. The dogs are twice as fast as a fit human, so anyone trying to escape not likely to outrun Cairo or his buddies.

Forsythe and Cara Parachuting

The dogs, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow. As I mentioned before, SEAL dogs are even trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo, if the jump is into water. Last year canine parachute instructor Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up — the altitude transoceanic passenger jets fly at. Both Forsythe and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors for the jump. Here’s a photo from that jump, taken by Andy Anderson for K9 Storm Inc. (more about those folks shortly).

SEAL DevGru team War Dog in ActionAs well, the dogs are faithful, fearless and ferocious — incredibly frightening and efficient attackers. I have seen it reported repeatedly that the teeth of SEAL war dogs are replaced with titanium implants that are stronger, sharper and scare-your-pants-off intimidating, but a U.S. Military spokesman has denied that charge, so I really don’t know (never having seen a canine SEAL face-to-face). I do know that I’ve never seen a photo of a war dog with anything even vaguely resembling a set of shiny metal chompers.When the SEAL DevGru team (usually known by its old designation, Team 6) hit bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on May 2, Cairo’s feet would have been four of the first on the ground. And like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible body Armour and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included “doggles” — specially designed and fitted dog googles with night-vision and infrared capability that would even allow Cairo to see human heat forms through concrete walls. Now where on earth would anyone get that kind of incredibly niche hi-tech doggie gear? From Winnipeg, of all places. Jim and Glori Slater’s Manitoba hi-tech mom-and-pop business, K9 Storm Inc., has a deserved worldwide reputation for designing and manufacturing probably the best body Armour available for police and military dogs. Working dogs in 15 countries around the world are currently protected by their K9 Storm body Armour.

K9 Storm Body Armour

Jim Slater was a canine handler on the Winnipeg Police Force when he crafted a Kevlar protective jacket for his own dog, Olaf, in the mid-1990s. Soon Slater was making body Armour for other cop dogs, then the Canadian military and soon the world. The standard K9 Storm vest also has a load-bearing harness system that makes it ideal for tandem rappelling and parachuting.

Tandum Parachuting in K9 Storm Vests

And then there are the special hi-tech add-ons that made the K9 Storm especially appealing to the U.S. Navy SEALs, who bought four of K9 Storm Inc.’s top-end Intruder “canine tactical assault suits” last year for $86,000. You can be sure Cairo was wearing one of those four suits when he jumped into bin Laden’s lair. Here’s an explanation of all the K9 Storm Intruder special features:

K9 Intruder Tactical Assault Suits

Just as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp point of the American military machine, so too are their dogs at the top of a canine military heirarchy. In all, the U.S. military currently has about 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed around the world, with roughly 600 now in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here’s the link to a dandy photo essay about U.S. war dogs that just appeared in the journal Foreign Policy. Several of the photos I have included here are from Foreign Policy, as you will see. Other photos are from K9 Storm Inc.


Parachuting in K9 Tactical Assault SuitsParachuting in K9 Tactical Assault Suits2

As for the ethics of sending dogs to war, that’s pretty much a moot point, don’t you think? If it’s ethical to send humans into combat, then why not dogs? At least the U.S. now treats its war dogs as full members of the military. At the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. combat dogs there were designated as “surplus military equipment” and left behind when American forces pulled out.


44 responses to “The Dog That Cornered Osama Bin Laden … not your standard K9…nor is the gear‏

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  1. Now you’re treading in a part of the world I’m more than a little familiar with having spent a good deal of my life in close proximity, in some cases very close to the Naval Special Warfare Community. Growing up my best friend and neighbor’s father was one of the original or “plank owner” members of SEAL Team 2. I later tended bar and drank in SEAL bars and worked closely with SEALS when I served in USAF Special Operations Units. Later still i was a Civil Service department head assigned to the US Navy bases which are home to all of the even numbered SEAL Teams (odd numbered teams are West Coast based). None of the SEAL K9s I’ve ever seen have had their teeth replaced and I doubt any ever would. I do know for a fact that more than 3 dental fillings on their human counterparts can result in disqualification from jump duty because of the effects of low pressure at altitude. I was grounded when I got my 4th filling. You are also correct about Team 6 being designated DEVGRU but it has since been changed again and the new name is classified. One last point; SEALS are arguabky the most elite troops in the world and members of DEVGRU are the elite of the SEALS.

    • Hey! Glad you could make it RM! “The only reason that a dog would have any titanium would be medical. Dogs sometimes lose teeth, and their handlers or trainers would have them replaced. Our proper reaction is pity for the creature.” ~ Spencer Ackerman. But! Man’s best friend is a pretty fearsome warrior! Having fought alongside U.S. soldiers for more than 100 years, seeing combat in the Civil War and World War I they were officially introduced to the US Army in 1942. Today, they’re a central part of U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the commandos involved in Operation Neptune Spear that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s killing, there was one dog –Cairo — the elite of the four-legged variety. In light of your final comment that makes him even more special. And, like Buddy 😉 these dogs are not only fierce assault weapons, but loyal guardians 🙂

  2. Hi Wolfie thanks for your visit your comments are much appreciated! This is an amazing blog! Do these dogs really do this or are we being lead up the garden path (this is the cynic in me) I know that dog do take part with the military at war and very brave they are too, but this one goes beyond belief, I dare say there will be plenty of comments about these brave animals looking forward to reading the comments

    Suki x

    • HooOOOOWWWWLLLLooooo Suki! Great to see you and thank you 🙂 Currently, some 3,000 active-duty dogs (the largest canine contingent in the world) serve with the various branches of the U.S. Army. And numbers will continue to grow as these dogs become an ever-more-vital military asset.Last year, the Navy purchased four tactical vests for dogs attached to SEAL units. These vests include night vision and other equipment, allowing the dogs to operate up to 1,000 yards away from the handlers.

      The first U.S. dog to take a “military parachute free fall” was Pal, a 46-pound German shepherd, in 1969. He made that jump with Sergeant First Class Jesse Mendez, a scout dog trainer during the Vietnam War. The military’s first tandem airborne jump with a K9, from an altitude of 12,500 feet was onto Gammon Parade Field on Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. on Sept. 18, 2009. “Dogs don’t perceive height difference…They’re more likely to be bothered by the roar of the engines, but once we’re on the way down, that doesn’t matter and they just enjoy the view. So long as they’re with their handlers they’re loving life”…. Slobbery Wolfie hugs x 🙂

  3. Well it might not be your own work Icywolfy of the Icy Realm but it is certainly a very interesting blog with much detail to satisfy any reader that happens along your Space, these dogs are brilliant. I know that dogs are used all over the world these days but are they as well protected as these finely tuned K9’s I think not. The training is second to none and their work alongside their human counterparts is highly professional, I was amazed that after the Vietnam War those dogs that were faithful to the cause were left behind, abandoned and unwanted, this is so sad and ridiculously cruel, I guess one good thing has come from these long serving and most faithful dogs of Wars and that is, that in modern warfare these dogs are treated with the respect and honour that they have truly earned, and in doing so collectively as a strikie force strive much higher than ever before. Thank you for offering this blog Icywolfy…

    Androgoth XXx

    • Gothic Greetings Dark Prince of the Gothic Realm! SEAL Team Six took along one war dog, Cairo, when they killed Osama bin Laden during the raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan saying a lot about our confidence in our four-legged friends. War dogs have served the U.S. military well since WW2, earning many decorations for valor in saving the lives of GIs. With their heightened senses of smell and hearing, dogs have become an integral part of the War on Terror.

      Not only are these dogs fierce assault weapons, they are loyal guardians. When Private First Class Colton Rusk was shot after his unit came under Taliban sniper fire during a routine patrol in Afghanistan, Rusk’s bomb-sniffing dog, Eli, crawled on top of his body, attacking anyone — including Rusk’s fellow Marines — who tried to come near him. Rusk did not survive the assault, but Eli was granted early retirement so he could live with Rusk’s family 🙂

      • This is something that I didn’t know about Icywolfy of the Icy Realm,
        so it just goes to show what I know on this most interesting of themes.
        You know it is a lovely story that you have offered me about Eli and
        his courage, staying with Private First Class Rusk under such extreme
        conditions, and I must say that the retirement of him is a well earned
        reward… Fitting for such an honourable and loving dog as he clearly is.

        Be well Icywolfy of the Icy Realm and enjoy your Wednesday too…

        Androgoth XXx

      • Ice wolfie, I just came by and watched this video again with my son and g-dau. Nay said “I am gonna take my Saber to combat training” (he is a orange striped tiger cat) and my son says “he will run away from you or eat you if you died, a dog would stay and not eat you” LMAO it is probably true…I stick with my Kady all the way. Woof woof.
        Thanks for sharing these blessed heros with us,

  4. What a wonderful blog. These dogs are loyal friends, and bless them for all they do.

    • Thank you 4 1 Love! And there are plenty of loyal and legendary war dogs to celebrate: eg The three strays living on a base in Afghanistan who wrestled a suicide bomber to the ground, forcing him to detonate before ever reaching the barracks where 50 soldiers lay sleeping; the fatally wounded handler who called for his dog with his last breath; the bomb-sniffing dog who, after his trainer was killed in Afghanistan, who himself died shortly after of a “broken heart.” K9 heros! 🙂

  5. Hi Icewolfie, I have to agree with Androgoth here my Friend, it’s still an excellent Blog with information I hadn’t known before….Although I knew Dogs served in combat etc and do an excellent job .. I didn’t know they parachuted in with their handlers, I guess I thought they landed in crates on aircraft.. or helicopters.. I read all the comments with great interest~ Your follow up information to comments is very informative also, and I am sat wiping away a tear here as I got to your last comment with Video link.
    Dogs are so loyal and give of their love unconditionally and for me they show us humans what love is all about as they trust us with their lives..An EXCELLENT Post …
    A well deserving Hoooooowwwwwllllll… 🙂

    • Hi Dreamwalker 🙂 These war dogs are the elite of the K9 Commando elite. Whilst the dogs usually jump in tandem with their trainers, when properly outfitted with flotation vests they can make short jumps into water on their own. U.S. Air Force dogs have been airborne for decades, but the earliest flying dogs accompanied Soviet forces in the 1930s. Pleased you enjoyed the post!

  6. And for the doubters…lol and the curious! : the K9 Storm Intruder Homepage 🙂

    (Canadian Suppliers of K9 Tactical Assault Suits and other K9 body armour such as mentioned in the post)

  7. Enjoyed this Wolfie it was very interesting

    • Lovely to see you again Rosemary! See…W/P loves you really 😉 lol…these War Dogs also make great Personal Protection Dogs and are regularly used by the Belgian Police. Icewolfie hugs!

  8. animals help humans in many many ways and your increadable article illustrates this.
    what a fantastic presentation Wolfie; you worked hard here and it shows

    • Happy you enjoyed it Eddie, and thank you 🙂 If I knew the source I’d have posted that too, but the info wasn’t available to me. We can learn a whole lot about loyalty, respect and the determination to stand by and for those and that which are/is most important to us, no matter what it takes 🙂

  9. Wow! Amazing dogs, also good read there(“-“)

  10. Pingback: That Cornered Osama Bin Laden … not your standard K9…nor is the gear‏ | San Diego Tea Party

  11. amazing blog but i still like the look of the german shepherd best did you see the police dog on tv who would not bite so had to be found a good home i would have loved that dog unfortunately all my german sheps i have had would have bitten anyone who entered my house but not outside the front door xxjen

    • Saw her in the local paper this morning, couldn’t help but smile at the thought of a GSD that didn’t want to bite! It also said she was very nervous of children…she was lovely but I was surprised it took them 18 months to discover she was temperamentally unsuited to the role she was expected to play. Hope she finds a loving and understanding home…Icy x 🙂

  12. i enjoyed it as much as u did Wolfy
    the German shephard My best friend in Chennai has one .and he is crazy abt her.
    its always wonderful to see a dog doing this.
    Wonderful entry Wolfy

    • Great to know you enjoyed it also. I hope to delve a little further into this subject soon…it leads a very interesting path so far as Ice wolves are concerned! And I totally understand why your friend would be crazy about his GSD 😮

  13. I have just been looking at these brilliant pictures again Icywolfy
    I hope you are going to be adding some more postings soon, yes
    I know you are busy doing the Youtube Director and Editing bit at
    the moment, soooooooooooooooooooo how many films have you
    put together so far? Come on tell all to Vampy… lol

    Have a Ghoulish rest of evening now
    and be good too but not too good, as
    you are never too good are you? lol
    Far too naughty for that… 😉

    Androgoth XXx

    • You should know! Being as you are the vampire master of great naughtiness!lol 😉

      • Yes well I am nowhere near as naughty as you are,
        everybody knows that… lol

        Right Icywolfy of the Icy Realm…

        Thank you for calling by my Space it is always very
        nice to see you padding around inside My Gothic Realm…

        Now that you are holding that thought of kryptonite and the
        wickedness of Crystal I will be waiting for your next offering
        and as you are on the Hunt, let all of your inspiration flow…

        Be good now Icywolfy of the Icy Realm…

        Androgoth XXx

  14. God bless our troops and Cairo.

  15. This story touched my heart Icewolfie,
    Big ole lump in this softies throat…I love canines…the most lovable loyal creatures of all. Those photos of the para-jumping dogs…how adorable and courageous they are…you know they do follow and trust us. My Kady is very very timid afraid of many things, but she is my guardian and protects these wierd cats too, without a doubt loyal.
    The video on a Tribute to those beautiful dogs who protect us and the story you shared of Eli and Rusk…awhhhh…heartwarming.
    One of my Cop friends has had 2 canine Police Officer partners during the years of our friendship. They are Trained Drug Enforcement but it is not all they do 🙂 One of them is retired but he still lets her ride in the car sometimes, as she is lost without being there. Late evenings, we visit while he lets them out…as we all work evening shifts….the dogs both know me even from the days, when the second one was a puppy practically falling out of the car….so cute.
    Great story my friend,
    pat pat,
    Raven xox

  16. “A puppy practically falling out of the car…” lol! …Belgian Shepherd’s like Cairo (Malinois) make pretty cute puppies too 🙂 These courageous dogs are very curious and love to work…para-jumping is likely, I suspect, to be a wonderful experience for them! They have a seemingly endless supply of energy, and are highly intelligent, loyal and confident dogs, who also require a high level of regular socialisation…consequently they may not be the best choice for the 1st time amateur pet-dog handler, but for the handler who wins their respect they will perform their duties to perfection. It is these qualities,that make for great police and military dogs…and above all the brave hearts of heros like CAIRO 🙂 who may not understand what “war” is but who face unknown and untold dangers with a heart-wrenching loyalty and awesome courage.

  17. You did a good job on it Wolfie, a great deal of credit to you.

    • Would love to take the credit for this Arlene, but none is due…all credit is due to whoever the source of this fine material you mailed me, is 🙂

    • Yes good job Wolfie.
      Thanks for posting it – wherever it came from.
      Fascinating insight and good pictures.

      • Great to see you! Thanks for stopping by and for your interest 🙂 Belgian Shepherd Dogs like Cairo (Malinois) also make great Protection Dogs, I can vouch for that and they are amazing dogs. Like there counterparts the German Shepherd Dogs they love to work and live to work. I have great respect for them 🙂

  18. excellent information ! thanks for sharing .. also thanks for liking my post !

    • Thanks! And yours was a very cool post too – I will pad back over later…on the blog-post catch up runaround at the mo 🙂 Thanks for taking time and interest to stop by too, great to see you 🙂

  19. What a great post! I am forwarding it!
    I was a military psychotherapist for 20+ years in San Diego for the Navy and Marines & SEALS of course (civilian). One day the builidng I worked in was evacuated and sealed off by a bomb threat. I was unaware of this and entered the building my usual way through a back alley. When I got to my office and was sitting at my desk, I noticed that my secretary and other staff were not at their desks. It was dawning on me that something was up, when who should walk into the office? A Belgian Malinois.
    He was on task, circuited the office, me, and my desk. Went and stood at the entry of my offices, where I followed him and talked to him noticing the entire 5 floor building was completely empty.
    His handler showed up, none to pleased that I was there. He evacuated me to the swat command van with his Malinois.
    Afterwards I spoke to him and his dog and he told me all about the dog, breed, training etc. Since that day I have loved the Malinois.
    What a regal dog.
    Now we live on a 7 acre ranch surrounded by coyote packs. Once we stop traveling, I plan to get a Malinois. They can handle the coyotes, are very protective, and remarkably intelligent. Good back up for our ridgebacks.
    Loved this post!

    • Great that you enjoyed this post Cindy! And that you too appreciate just what an awesome breed of dog the Malinois is! I loved your account of your encounter with one – wow! What an interesting and exciting life you must have led so far…and now living in Coyote land, so to speak 😉 Your “Ridgies” I assume keep the coyotes at bay! They’re fantastic dogs too, I’m getting very jealous here lol 😀 I’m sure you will love having a Malinois too when the time comes for that happy moment! 🙂

  20. How incredible. I couldn’t believe the dogs were actually trained parachutists til I saw the pics. Amazing. But I’m so glad that Cairo was kitted out with full body armour, the least they could do. Dogs are incredible creatures, aren’t they, truly our best friends.

    I have a lovely Cavalier King Charles, Charlie, and although he will never win any medals he holds our hearts in his paws! There was an amazing BBC programme on about dogs last week and it showed not only how they are used for traditional roles like search and rescue, guiding, police duties etc, but how they are now being trained to detect diseases. Apparently it’s down to their amazing sense of smell, such as you indicate in the article.

    Dogs can now be trained to sniff out the “rogue not sure whats” that are the signs of diabetes, and some cancers etc. How amazing is that!!

    Great post.

    • They are pretty amazing dogs that’s for sure and certainly remind us why we are so lucky as to have the company of our dogs as our best friends 🙂

      I’m sure your Cavalier is beautiful! The family I used to live with had a tri colour one and she was the softest most loving little dog. They’re so cheery and full of personality!

      I’d like to have seen that tv programme about the dogs sniffing out illnesses. Have read nits about it and its awesome what they can achieve Great admiration and respect for such dogs! 🙂

      Thank you for your lovely and interesting comment 🙂

  21. the last lines made me shiver. When duty was over they were left behind.
    I dont understand..Just used
    njoy the weekend lady wolfy

  22. Pingback: today’s news … Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | Columbia news, views & reviews

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