Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Dog That Cornered Osama Bin Laden ... not your standard K9...nor is the gear‏

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.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Spirit of the Wolf

Wolf is regarded in Native American and Celtic custom as the way to discover the deepest levels of inner self, of hidden perceptions and awareness. The image of the wolf howling at the moon symbolises this. On a subconscious level our emotions toward Wolf reflect our confused feelings with regard to ourselves as humans and individuals. We deem ourselves ‘civilized’ but in some form we are still animal, and as such bear a wild spirit all of our own. Wolf can and does, albeit with a sense of unease, prompt us to remember this.
The wolf, is a symbol of the night showing us through our night dreams, many things of great importance about ourselves. To really understand yourself can make for a lonely night journey, but you must be alone, and not discouraged by others beliefs understandings and opinions.
  • The wolf teaches us to learn about our inner self and to discover our inner power and strength. However, to achieve this, we must take risks and face our deepest fears.
  • Wolf requires honesty. Though commanding a lot of us, much is given in return; a spirit helper that is always there to assist, offering us exceptional capabilities to persevere.
Listen for, and learn to hear the voice within yourself, which in silence is as clear as the sound of the wolf howling in the night.
Wolf is a very sociable creature, fiercely loyal to their mates, with a strong sense of family whilst maintaining individuality and independence. Wolf packs are outstandingly systematised, but they remain beyond doubt spirits of wildness and freedom. They fight only when it is necessary, using instead shifts in stance, a growl, or a look to make a statement without resorting to violence.
  • We are reminded not to waste resources and to learn how to avoid trouble and confrontations.
  • People with Wolf as power animal have the ability to make quick and firm emotional connections. Trust your discernments regarding these bonds; wolf will be there to guide you.
  • Take control of your life with Wolf’s assistance and do so with co-ordination and self-control.
We can benefit greatly in our lives by learning from the example of the wolf, understanding that there doesn't need to be any conflict between the solitary and social paths.
  • Wolf teaches you to balance between the demands of family and the meeting of your own needs.
  • Wolves are absolutely loyal to the pack but do not give up their identity to the pack. Wolf helps you to look at the areas of your life where you are behaving too dependently and those in which maybe you have become too independent.
Wolfs qualities, his medicine, offer us the aptitude to discover new ideas and in turn teach them to others.
  • Wolf is considered an independent explorer who returns to his pack to pass on the knowledge he has acquired on his travels.
  • During the process of exploring the hidden paths of consciousness, we too could well make enlightening discoveries of our own to share with and benefit the human pack.
  • Wolf brings faithfulness, inner strength and intuition when he enters our lives, and also teaches us to live with ourselves.
Wolves are highly intelligent creatures, with highly developed senses, and a great sense of determination.
  • A wolfs howl is primal, and both intensely powerful and deeply evocative. The howl is used to locate pack members or to let wolves from outside of the pack know their territory boundaries. If you hear your wolf howling, this may be a call to stand your ground, to fight your corner and defend your boundaries.
Wolves hunt in organised packs relying on their outstanding powers of endurance to run down weak and older animals. They have been known to cover 35 miles a day whilst pursuing their prey.
  • Wolf is a symbol of stamina and strength, teaching you to know who you are, and to develop strength and confidence in what you do.
Whichever way wolf appears to you be it alone, embodying freedom or in a pack, embodying community feelings it is asking you to follow the example in your own life.
Be receptive to new concepts because in doing so you can gain more wisdom. Utilise it well and share it with others. And remember, wisdom is gained through experience, by travelling the road.