India’s dogs prove heroic in terrorism war
She does not carry a gun, nor does she speak. But she has a nose unlike anyone in the battlefield – and her heroics during a counter-terrorism operation landed her one of India’s distinguished awards.
Who is she? She is Mini, a black Labrador retriever and a soldier’s best friend. Mini’s bravery resulted in receiving an award on Independence Day [August 15] 2010. She is one of several hundreds of dogs that serve India’s military.
A member of the explosives detection wing of the 20 Army Dog Unit, Mini received the Chief of Army Staff's commendation card for sniffing out two IEDs [improvised explosive devices] in the jungles of the Poonch district, Jammu and Kashmir, during a counter-terrorism operation in 2009. Mini and her handler, Devi Dayal, participated in the operation conducted by Rashtriya Rifles [RR], an Army anti-terror force, at Haryana Ridge area on March 13, 2009. Two camouflaged bombs could have killed soldiers had she not found the explosive devices.
Mini is not the only canine hero. A few years ago, Rex, a golden Labrador stole the hearts of soldiers for his bravery.
Rex was born on February 25, 1993, at RVC Centre & School Meerut. After a year’s training, he was posted to 14 Army Dog Unit under Delta Force and assigned the areas adjoining the town of Bhaderwah, Jammu and Kashmir to help troops track terrorists.
In March 1995, while operating with 25 RR in the jungles of Badrot, South of Bhaderwah, he tracked a militant injured in an encounter for more than 3 kilometers in the thick of enemy fire. In a chase that lasted for more than four hours, Rex managed to recover one AK 56 rifle and a haversack containing 92 rounds.
In April 1998, while on patrol in the area Gulgandhar, J&K, security forces killed two terrorists and badly injured one, who managed to escape. Picking up the scent of his blood, Rex tracked him for more than 2 kilometers. The Labrador found the terrorist in a hideout where he had died from his injuries, authorities reported.
For his bravery Rex received the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command Commendation Card in 1999 for his outstanding and exemplary performance against terrorists.
Rex died shortly afterward during a training accident with the Quick Reaction Team of 25 RR in Daraba near Rajouri.
Canines instrumental in fighting terrorism
Last year Maj. Gen. Shri Kant Sharma and his team of officers organized India’s first-of- its-kind seminar on “Canines as force multipliers in the war against terrorism.” The seminar celebrated the growth of India’s training faculty Remount and Veterinary Corps [RVC] Centre and College, Meerut, Cantonment. Its aim was to interact and exchange views regarding the latest methods of training and employing canines in the battlefield.
The seminar’s theme highlighted the contribution of trained working dogs in national security in the face of rising global terrorism and increased internal and external security threats. It focused on the military roles in tackling natural or manmade disasters with trained dogs. The seminar included scenario-based training methods, adoption of innovative training methodologies, using modern training aids in enhancing operational flexibility and proactive approach toward disaster management scenarios.
Participants said they found the seminar to be a valuable platform for the exchange of views and valuable information on how dogs can be used in operational situations.
RVC Centre and College helps military train dogs
The RVC Centre and College plays a key educational role in breeding, raising, training and issuing trained dogs to defense forces, paramilitary forces and friendly foreign countries. It is also a nodal agency in dog breeding and training for India.
Canines trained here are performing life-saving duties in the nation’s Northern and North Eastern regions. For example, canines have retrieved human bodies in Leh area after a cloud-burst and provided canine security during the Commonwealth Games.
The Indian Army also could soon have its first unit of canines mounted with cameras to help troops with visual guidance during tricky situations and hostage crises. The RVC Centre and College has been testing the viability of mounting cameras to dogs.
The college is recreating dangerous situations including searching through smoke and fire or searching and locating terrorists hiding inside a building. The plan is to cut down on risk to human life by using the dogs mounted with miniature cameras. As the dogs begin their searches, the cameras will transmit audio and video to the unit and officers who will be controlling and monitoring from a distance.