(Mike Forsythe and dog Cara are shown breaking the world record for highest man/dog parachute deployment at 30,100 feet. Cara is wearing a K9 Storm Vest. Both Forsythe and Cara utilized oxygen during the jump. Credit: Andy Anderson/K9 Storm)
The U.S. Navy SEALs who carried out the successful mission in Pakistan used high-tech helicopters, weaponry and masterful skills to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to released details of the operation.
Members of the U.S. Navy military special forces, however, have yet another formidable weapon in their already impressive arsenal: an elite dog team that can parachute or rappel into action at a moment's notice.
It remains unclear if any members of the U.S. Navy SEALs' elite dog team participated in the raid of bin Laden's compound, but over the past several months, many of these dogs have been outfitted with "canine tactical assault vests" and other equipment, according to media reports.
The Register journalist Lewis Page reported that the U.S. Navy last year awarded an $86,000 contract to Canadian firm K9 Storm Incorporated for the supply of protective gear for dogs.
On its website, K9 Storm mentions that the assault vest "defeats a combination of ballistic and ice pick threats." The "aerial insertion vest" is also said to be able to withstand damage from single and double-edged knives. Protection against shrapnel and gunfire may also be provided.
Check out the videos showing how some of the K9 Storm gear for dogs works.
Page additionally wrote that U.S. Navy SEAL special forces dogs have been equipped with "infrared nightsight cameras and an intruder communication system able to penetrate concrete walls." Such a system would have been useful during Monday's raid in Pakistan, based on the description of bin Laden's compound.
Like their human colleagues, the Navy SEAL dogs may also be equipped with a self-inflating lifejacket in their assault and aerial vests, in the event that the dogs wind up in water. The weight of their gear could otherwise pull them downward but, like canine 007's, these dogs appear ready to handle almost any threat that comes their way.
Dogs are very common in Afghanistan -- both the dogs our Armed Forces bring in and the indigenous dogs to the area. Our military personnel encounter canines all of the time, and for this reason we often send dog treats in our care packages.