SEALs are members of the Navy who have lots of special training, so that they can go on really dangerous and difficult and sometimes secret missions. The word SEAL stands for sea, air, and land, which are all the places that these special troops are trained to fight.
Well, back in May, when that bad man, Osama bin Laden, got killed by Navy SEALs, it turned out that one SEAL was actually a dog. And later on, we found out that the dog was a German Shepherd named Cairo. But that's all the information I could find about the dog, which is more than almost anyone knows about the human SEALs who were in the operation. And the reason for this was to keep Osama bin Laden's buddies from getting revenge by trying to hunt down the guys who killed him.
But anyway, I did learn some interesting things about the latest developments in doggy armor, which any military dog involved in an operation such as killing Osama bin Laden would be wearing, so I am going to tell you what I learned.
The company that makes canine armor is called K9 Storm, and they make all sorts of bulletproof vests and amazing stuff to protect dogs who do different types of work. Some of the vests have lights, and some have cameras, and some have microphones. The fanciest vest is called Intruder, and it costs between $20,000 and $30,000. It has a collapsible video arm so that the dog's handler can see what the dog is seeing. Also there is a microphone that makes it so the handler can give commands softly, and the dog can hear them through concrete walls or ship hulls or in tunnels, up to 400 yards away.
Also the vests protect the dog from gunshots and shrapnel and knife wounds. Dogs that work as prison guards can get vests that are woven tighter, to protect against weapons such as ice picks and sharpened screwdrivers. Also the vests are waterproof, and they are lightweight. The average weight is between 3 and 7 pounds, depending on how many gadgets the armor has.
Just a basic vest is only $2,000 or $3,000, and every vest is made to fit a particular dog exactly right. The vests are used by police dogs and by search-and-rescue dogs and by any other working dogs that might get hurt while they are doing their jobs.
The military knows how important war dogs are, so they don't mind spending the money to keep the dogs safe. Gen. David Petraeus said, "The capability [the dogs] bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine. By all measures of performance, their yield outperforms any asset we have in our industry. Our Army would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource."
One of the things that military dogs do best is sniff out IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), and the Taliban has figured out that the dogs are really good at this. So snipers often try to kill the dogs. But wearing armor helps save the dogs' lives so they can save soldiers' lives. And that's a very good thing.