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War Dog of War
May 5, 2011 11:05 AM   Subscribe

...it should be no surprise that among the 79 commandos involved in Operation Neptune Spear, one was a dog...it should come as no surprise that among the 79 commandos involved in Operation Neptune Spear that resulted in Osama bin Laden's killing, there was one dog -- the elite of the four-legged variety. And though the dog in question remains an enigma -- another mysterious detail of the still-unfolding narrative of that historic mission -- there should be little reason to speculate about why there was a dog involved... A lot more photos, links, and history here and here and more adoption info here
posted by J0 (102 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Never let a dog fly a helicopter.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:32 PM on May 2, 2011
posted by BeerFilter at 11:08 AM on May 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Single-page-age for some folks - click here.
posted by fijiwriter at 11:09 AM on May 5, 2011


Neptune spear? it's a trident, you ignorant fucks.

/ATLANTIS RAGE
posted by Artw at 11:09 AM on May 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


Spear/trident, he still ended up at the bottom of the sea.
posted by Elmore at 11:13 AM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cry 'Havoc!' and let loose the dogs of night time covert counter insurgency operations!

Doesn't have the same ring does it?
posted by PenDevil at 11:14 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Any women? I haven't seen any mention of any female members of the "elite of the elite."
posted by three blind mice at 11:16 AM on May 5, 2011


I LOVE DOGS
posted by HumanComplex at 11:17 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I use this kind of carry with my cat sometimes, for fun, but now I can tell her it helps build loyalty, trust, and teamwork!
posted by autoclavicle at 11:18 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Any women? I haven't seen any mention of any female members of the "elite of the elite."

There are no women in the Navy SEALS, I think it's the only part of the Navy that women cannot join. Maybe the helicopter pilots though.
posted by atrazine at 11:18 AM on May 5, 2011


“So happens this dog achieved the rank of colonel in the United States Army.”
posted by grobstein at 11:19 AM on May 5, 2011


Enlighten me. Why did they bring a dog?
posted by monospace at 11:19 AM on May 5, 2011


Left to its own devices, that dog would have probably just sniffed bin Laden's butt and then licked his hand.

In that sense, its having been trained/commanded to treat him as an adversary makes it a small victim of the War on Terror.
posted by Trurl at 11:20 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are you sure it shouldn't be a surprise? Because I'm surprised as hell, frankly.
posted by penduluum at 11:21 AM on May 5, 2011


"When you're going on a mission," Dowling says, "a raid or a patrol, insurgents are sneaky -- they like to hide stuff from you. But a dog can smell them. .... [Think about] Saddam Hussein ... what if Osama had been [hiding] in a hole in the ground? A dog could find that. A dog could alert them to where he's hiding because of the incredible scent capabilities. ... You can only see what you can see. You can't see what you don't see. A dog can see it through his nose."

I don't know about your dog, but my rescue beagle, Georgia, would have been easily distracted by a piece of bacon.
posted by fijiwriter at 11:21 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are no women in the Navy SEALS,

Why am I not surprised? Disappointed, but not surprised.

At least we know "the elite of the elite" have plenty of room for improvement.
posted by three blind mice at 11:24 AM on May 5, 2011


would have been easily distracted by a piece of bacon

There was that episode of Mythbusters where they tried to distract trained dogs, and they can indeed be trained to ignore meat, dog hormones, etc.

Or rather, dogs that can't be trained to ignore those things don't make it to corporal.
posted by muddgirl at 11:26 AM on May 5, 2011


I don't know about your dog, but my rescue beagle, Georgia, would have been easily distracted by a piece of bacon.

Probably not a hell of a lot of pork products in a country that's 97% Muslim.

lookit the pupppyyyyyy
posted by dismas at 11:26 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Remember that scene in Predator, as they're flying into the jungle listening to Little Richard?

I like to picture these guys flying into Pakistan, with the dog trotting over to the tape deck and pawing away furiously at it until it turns on and this starts playing.
posted by mannequito at 11:29 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm, they deploy dogs into war-zones to take advantage of their sense of smell. Bears have much more sensitive sense of smell than any dog. If you could train a bear as well as a dog...

"Get ready, here comes the American patrol."

"They have...is that?...They have bears now?! I give up."
posted by VTX at 11:36 AM on May 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


mm, they deploy dogs into war-zones to take advantage of their sense of smell. Bears have much more sensitive sense of smell than any dog. If you could train a bear as well as a dog...

"Get ready, here comes the American patrol."

"They have...is that?...They have bears now?! I give up."



http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-510452/The-hero-bear-went-war-loved-smoke-beer.html

The Poles were way ahead of you on this one.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:38 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm normally a cat person, but I would definitely not want one in a war zone. Mine would be all, "Osama! Give me your tuna or I'm going to unroll your toilet paper!"
posted by desjardins at 11:39 AM on May 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


In that sense, its having been trained/commanded to treat him as an adversary makes it a small victim of the War on Terror.

I was kind of thinking about this. If you talk to combat personnel and ask them why they're there, what they're really fighting for, eventually you penetrate the shell of politics and personal beliefs and you get to something common across most of them. Most will respond that they're there because of the others. They're there for their fellow soldiers/marines/sailors/whatever. That's what it comes down to, seemingly; they stay and they fight to protect their comrades. This is the same thing you see when you talk to older veterans and they tell you that they're not heroes, that the heroes died.

Now they were trained to that belief, of course. Trained to protect their fellow combatants, to even give up their lives for them if they had to. They are given the example of the Greeks, the Spartans, each man protecting the man on his left with his shield arm. So yes it's a component of their training. But most people aren't at the most basic level aren't there for freedom or America or whatever, they're there to try to protect their friends.

Which honestly isn't that different that the reason that a war dog would go into a hole after somebody. They're trained to think of some smallish group of humans as their pack, and they (through features both of training and of genetics) will fight to protect their pack from what they understand to be threats, even if they come to harm as a result. The mindset is not dissimilar.

By saying that, I don't mean to compare combat troops to dogs. I guess I mean to compare dogs to combat troops, to heroes, and in so doing praise and honor them both.
posted by penduluum at 11:39 AM on May 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


"They have...is that?...They have bears now?! I give up."
posted by VTX at 11:36 AM on May


VTX, I present to you, the Bear Cavalry.


See also Voytek as a real life WAR BEAR.
posted by ntartifex at 11:40 AM on May 5, 2011


I would ride a bear into battle. Firing lasers from an autocannon mounted to it's neck.

Dressed like David Bowie. Not me -- the bear.

That's just how I roll.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Poles were way ahead of you on this one.

Yeah but they just used him to help carry stuff and wasn't really used for his nose or potential ferociousness. I'm talking about bears in combat (yes, like Bear Cavalry). Or bomb sniffing bears at Airports.
posted by VTX at 11:45 AM on May 5, 2011


There are no women in the Navy SEALS,

Why am I not surprised? Disappointed, but not surprised.

At least we know "the elite of the elite" have plenty of room for improvement.


They probably have girl dogs though.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:51 AM on May 5, 2011


The Dickin Medal a concept so marvellously simultaneously daft and genius I wrote a comic strip inspired by it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:59 AM on May 5, 2011


Why am I not surprised? Disappointed, but not surprised.

You know that women aren't allowed in any supposedly front-line ground combat unit, right? So there shouldn't have been even the possibility of this being surprising. Women do end up in combat on not infrequent occasions since the idea of "front lines" is a little iffy in Afghanistan and (formerly) Iraq but the policy is that they aren't allowed to be ground pounder combat riflemen.
posted by Justinian at 12:01 PM on May 5, 2011


There are no women in the Navy SEALS,

Why am I not surprised? Disappointed, but not surprised.

At least we know "the elite of the elite" have plenty of room for improvement.


Traditionally the excuse was that menstruation left them vulnerable to sharks. Yeah huh.

It's been alleged for probably around 20 odd years now that CAG (aka Delta aka SFOD-D aka what-the-fuck-ever) trained at least one woman who passed a modified selection course. Certainly UKSF have had women pass a modified SF selection course and served in 14 INT during the Troubles (one wrote a book about it).
posted by longbaugh at 12:01 PM on May 5, 2011


Never let a dog fly a helicopter
posted by Debaser626 at 12:07 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the waning days of the Viet Nam war, the doctor next door to us adopted 2 German Shepherds who were washouts from the dog training program at Lackland AFB. The dogs were named Ruff and Reddy.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:09 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bomb-Sniffing Dog Gina Comes Home From Iraq Traumatized, Suffering From PTSD
posted by homunculus at 12:09 PM on May 5, 2011


Archer: Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the hogs of war.
Lana: Dogs of war.
Archer: Whatever farm animal of war, Lana. Shut up.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:11 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Enlighten me. Why did they bring a dog?

I read to sniff for explosives.
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on May 5, 2011


Osama Bin Laden Raid Included Bomb-Sniffing Dog Strapped To Commando.
posted by ericb at 12:16 PM on May 5, 2011


At least we know "the elite of the elite" have plenty of room for improvement.

Read up on the SEAL selection process.

I'm not saying that there's no role for motivated females in special ops, but they're just unlikely to pass that ridiculously high bar.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:16 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Armored Hounds -- Sometimes the most useful technology is actually man’s best friend. According to reports, a SEAL dog was imperative to the bin Laden raid. Almost always German Shepherds, these highly trained canines can sniff out dangerous explosive, provide valuable intel, and if necessary, even attack the enemy." *
posted by ericb at 12:18 PM on May 5, 2011


CBS Sunday Morning did a segment this past Sunday on training dogs similar to 'War Dogs.' It was about 'ATF Dogs.' [video].
posted by ericb at 12:23 PM on May 5, 2011


Speaking of dogs and bacon ...
The Ultimate Dog Tease.
posted by ericb at 12:27 PM on May 5, 2011


I'm not saying that there's no role for motivated females in special ops, but they're just unlikely to pass that ridiculously high bar.

really? what's so "unlikely" about it?

something that's not overtly sexist, i mean.
posted by jammy at 12:30 PM on May 5, 2011


really? what's so "unlikely" about it?

something that's not overtly sexist, i mean.


Start here. It's pretty insane.

Basically, if the US didn't have SEALs (and the like) we'd have much more Olympic medals.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:35 PM on May 5, 2011


Is it sexist to suggest that at the top percentile men outperform women in physical activities that may be relavent to the job of a commando?

I'd love to see women in the NFL too, but good luck with that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:40 PM on May 5, 2011


Read up on the SEAL selection process.

You need to be able to do 50 sit-ups and 42 pushups in under two minutes each, a mile-and-a-half run faster than 7 minutes per mile, and a 500-yard swim in less than 13 minutes just to be accepted for training.
posted by Trurl at 12:41 PM on May 5, 2011


really? what's so "unlikely" about it?

Men are unlikely to pass as well, of course, so it wouldn't take more than a few % lower average physical capability to exclude virtually all women. I guess it might have to do with the role of testosterone in muscle development?
I've always thought that women should be allowed to take the selection courses, if fewer women are able to pass then so be it, but at least let them try!

What definitely is sexist is the exclusion of women from non-infantry combat roles.
posted by atrazine at 12:42 PM on May 5, 2011


Class 234 - A documentary following a class going through SEAL training.
posted by PenDevil at 12:45 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd recommend any of Dick Couch's books for anyone wanting to familiarise themselves with what SEALs go through as part of their training. I remember reading about swim-buddies having to piss on one another to gain warmth during Hell Week from another ex-SEAL's memoirs. It's not fun and it's not something that many would be willing to put themselves through.
posted by longbaugh at 12:48 PM on May 5, 2011


Start here. It's pretty insane.

About.com? um, no.

Is it sexist to suggest that at the top percentile men outperform women in physical activities that may be relavent to the job of a commando?

Given that we live in a sexist society the answer is therefore "yes".

I'd love to see women in the NFL too, but good luck with that.

Yeah, that has nothing to do with sexism. Thanks!

I guess it might have to do with the role of testosterone in muscle development?

Maybe. Maybe also having to do with how socialization determines how men & women are encouraged/allowed to take on physical &/or athletic roles?

What definitely is sexist is the exclusion of women from non-infantry combat roles.

Thank you.

/derail
posted by jammy at 12:54 PM on May 5, 2011


I'm sure it was probably a German Shepherd as that's almost always what's used, but I harbor a secret hope that it'll turn out to be a French Malinois (Belgian Shepherd), because I want the world to discover how incredibly bad ass these dogs are.
posted by quin at 12:58 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see women in the NFL too, but good luck with that.

Yeah, that has nothing to do with sexism. Thanks!


It has about as much to do with sexism as my inability to carry a baby to term. At the top percentile men will be bigger, stronger, and faster unless we bring some genetic engineering in to it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:02 PM on May 5, 2011


Women aren't excluded from the SEALs for fitness reasons - otherwise they'd just open the entrance physical to everyone and let that weed out all unqualified persons of either gender.

The reasons generally given are (a) women menstruate, and (b) women and men can't live in close quarters without at least one wanting to fuck the other.
posted by muddgirl at 1:04 PM on May 5, 2011


...women and men can't live in close quarters without at least one wanting to fuck the other.

Why is this specific to SEALs when woman and men are already mixed across all services.
posted by PenDevil at 1:08 PM on May 5, 2011


Never let a dog fly a helicopter.

Or a worm. Or a rhino.
posted by stargell at 1:13 PM on May 5, 2011


Why is this specific to SEALs when woman and men are already mixed across all services.

Women are not allowed in combat roles in the US military, and the SEALs are the ultimate combat role.
posted by muddgirl at 1:16 PM on May 5, 2011


SEALs are the ultimate combat role

Not quite.
posted by longbaugh at 1:31 PM on May 5, 2011


Pizza sniffing bears
posted by benzenedream at 1:31 PM on May 5, 2011


Given that we live in a sexist society the answer is therefore "yes"

Come on, sexism doesn't change physical reality. Do we live in a sexist society? Yes. Are there real, physical differences between men and women? Of course. Arguing otherwise is nonsense and even more ridiculous than global warming denialism since it's so patently obvious that it is wrong.

Don't get me wrong; I think the selection process should be gender neutral and women should compete for the available SEAL slots. I am not sure whether that would lead to women in the SEALs or not; it's possible none would qualify. It's also possible some would. They should get the chance to find out.

But the idea that women would, for example, play in the NFL except for sexism is absurd.
posted by Justinian at 1:36 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Justinian - I think you might have missed the fact that sexism is not a single-point source - it's not like women grow up in a completely gender-neutral society up until the time they choose a career.

Boy children and girl children are physically almost exactly the same, and yet only about 1% of Pop Warner players are girls.

So no, the NFL may not be sexist due solely to the fact that there are no women, but the fact that not one women has ever played in the NFL is almost certainly due to the fact that we live in a sexist society.
posted by muddgirl at 1:46 PM on May 5, 2011


hi everyone! my apologies for the derail. if anyone would like to continue this conversation about why women are supposedly physically inferior to men or why only heterosexual men & women apply to the armed forces or why sexism doesn't affect "physical" reality, please memail me. thanks.
posted by jammy at 1:46 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I played against girls in Pop Warner football. One of them I specifically recall being very good and extremely tough to block. She was a little less strong than most the boys but made up for it with quickness.

By high school she would have no chance against male athletes at that position, and this isn't sexism, she would not be strong enough and a lot of the less talented guys would already be weeded out as well.

There really aren't women who can compete in the NFL. There really aren't women that can come close. The difference in physical ability is obvious even in sports like gymnastics and figure skating which girls are more encouraged to participate in. It shows up in swimming and running and lifting.

It's not imaginary.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:04 PM on May 5, 2011


By high school she would have no chance against male athletes at that position.

I'm not talking about high school. Only about 1% of Pop Warner players are girls. There is no biological reason why a 9-year-old pre-pubescent girl cannot play football as well as a 9-year-old pre-pubescent boy. And yet this fact remains.
posted by muddgirl at 2:14 PM on May 5, 2011


In a world without sexism, I think a very skilled, strong woman could make it into the special-teams in the NFL. I suspect there are women who could pass SEAL training today if they were allowed to try, even if they're extreme outliers. However, the simple fact is that women do not have the same potential for size and strength as men do, pound-for-pound -- that is physical reality, as any female weightlifter can tell you (or as you can see by examining records). Any position which depends largely on strength and size (as most in the NFL do) will not be filled with women, short of some sort of affirmative action, because bigger men will always be available.

Of course, the elephant in the room is that the modern infantry is not necessarily dependent on strength and size; many countries (including Israel, widely admired for its toughness) have had great success with female infantry. Likewise, the fact that women can't even try to join the SEALS (or the NFL special-teams) is clearly sexist. And in a world absent sexism, wouldn't sports have less of an emphasis on strength/size and more on skill? Perhaps they would (but is a world without sexism all that likely for a species with such extreme sexual dimorphism, anyway?)

tl;dr: it's not just sexism or just physical reality. It's both. Derail over, right?
posted by vorfeed at 2:18 PM on May 5, 2011


Class 234 - A documentary following a class going through SEAL training.

I also recommend last year's Discovery documentary series: Surviving the Cut. Amazing training that the U.S. elite squads go through. Video clips here.
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on May 5, 2011


I talked to a woman that served in the Israeli army that said one of their biggest problems is that Arabs will fight to the death rather than be captured by a woman but will happily surrender to male soldiers.
posted by Ber at 2:23 PM on May 5, 2011


And to be on-topic -- the US War Dogs Association is worth visiting if you have an interest in the subject. Their web design is horrid, but they have a lot of moving stories of dogs and their handlers. They're also pushing for a War Dog Memorial in New Jersey, and they accept donations for care packages to be sent to deployed dog teams.
posted by vorfeed at 2:30 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not talking about high school. Only about 1% of Pop Warner players are girls. There is no biological reason why a 9-year-old pre-pubescent girl cannot play football as well as a 9-year-old pre-pubescent boy. And yet this fact remains.

I know. I just told you I've known that since I played it myself. I wouldn't want to play a sport I had to quit by high school either. The rates of participation at Pop Warner levels won't magically even out the distribution at the NFL level. You could ban boys from even playing football untill high school and they would still beat out the girls at that point.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:33 PM on May 5, 2011


Where's Smedleyman when you need him?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:34 PM on May 5, 2011


but the fact that not one women has ever played in the NFL is almost certainly due to the fact that we live in a sexist society.

Well, no. It's due to the fact that even in a completely non-sexist society there wouldn't be a woman who could make it onto an NFL team. Even as kicker, probably, though that is the one position where it might be possible.

It's pure statistics.

Likewise, the fact that women can't even try to join the SEALS (or the NFL special-teams)

I agree with you that it is sexist that women can't even attempt to join the SEALs. But women can try to join the NFL. You're operating under a false assumption. The NFL is open to anyone, man or woman.
posted by Justinian at 2:39 PM on May 5, 2011


The rates of participation at Pop Warner levels won't magically even out the distribution at the NFL level.

I never claimed that it would. I am talking about the fact that not one single woman has ever played in the NFL in the history of the sport (or in the main division of the MLB, for that matter). That does not follow from the facts of biology.
posted by muddgirl at 2:42 PM on May 5, 2011


I thought we were going to talk about dogs in this thread. Dogs are great, aren't they? Still it's messed up that we make them fight in human wars. It's not like I have to go help Boomer in a dog war.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:44 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Or actually, I was talking about the curious assertion that women in total are not allowed in the SEALs because statistically most women are less fit than most men. Rather than the asserted reason, which has to do more with sociology than biology.
posted by muddgirl at 2:44 PM on May 5, 2011


That does not follow from the facts of biology.

Yes it does. That's how statistics works when you're talking about the tail end of a normal distribution. It's basic math.
posted by Justinian at 2:45 PM on May 5, 2011


Where's Smedleyman when you need him?

He and I argued pretty extensively about the women-in-infantry thing starting here.

I agree with you that it is sexist that women can't even attempt to join the SEALs. But women can try to join the NFL. You're operating under a false assumption. The NFL is open to anyone, man or woman.

Sure, if you're operating under the false assumption that institutionalized, explicitly sexist rules are the only kind of sexism there is. In practice, I think we both know that women have no realistic path to joining the NFL, and that this is not likely to change any time soon. In this, at least, the military is ahead of much of civilian society.
posted by vorfeed at 2:47 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never claimed that it would. I am talking about the fact that not one single woman has ever played in the NFL in the history of the sport (or in the main division of the MLB, for that matter). That does not follow from the facts of biology.

And I'm telling you Pop Warner participation is not why women can't compete in the NFL with 6 foot 5 muscle machines that run like cheetahs. To be close to that level of physical ability a woman would have to be an extreme outlier, but the NFL is already FULL of male extreme outliers. The potential just isn't there to even out the difference.

Baseball, maybe. Football no so much, even as a kicker there are leg strength issues to consider.

Or actually, I was talking about the curious assertion that women in total are not allowed in the SEALs because statistically most women are less fit than most men.

You are missing the point. We aren't talking about the general population, I'm sure most women on Metafilter could do better in the NFL or combat than me. We are talking about the absolute peak of performance.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:50 PM on May 5, 2011


Hey - isn't that Navy SEAL dog with titanium teeth awesome? But how much cooler would it have been if they were adamantium teeth? X-Dogs!
posted by tzikeh at 2:52 PM on May 5, 2011


We aren't talking about the general population, I'm sure most women on Metafilter could do better in the NFL or combat than me. We are talking about the absolute peak of performance.

I don't know how to make myself clearer. The fact that women are specifically prohibited from joining the Navy SEALs has nothing to do with fitness. Even if there was one woman in the world who was capable and desirous of performing the duties, she would not be allowed. Period, end of story. I don't see why we're talking about physical capabilities at all, because they do not factor in to the reason why women are disallowed from combat training.

Physically incapable men will not qualify Navy SEALs. Women, as far as I know, are not even allowed to take the test.
posted by muddgirl at 2:54 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know how to make myself clearer.

You are clear. I am clear. We disagree. They limit the testing to people who can reasonably be expected to pass, they don't test everyone because it would be a waste of time. It should be officially open, sure, but it won't make a difference.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:01 PM on May 5, 2011


In practice, I think we both know that women have no realistic path to joining the NFL, and that this is not likely to change any time soon. In this, at least, the military is ahead of much of civilian society.

I think it matters if you mean officially or unofficially re: the military. Officially, sure. Unofficially, my understanding is that women in some parts of the military are treated very badly in ways that they would have far more recourse against in civilian life. This may be a selection effect; I am far more likely to hear about women in the military who are sexually assaulted than those who are not. So I have an open mind. But I do think the official-vs-unofficial thing is real.

As to sports, we don't both know that. I guarantee you that if a woman could compete in, say, MLB or the MBA or the NHL she would be out there on the field faster than you can say "billion dollar cash cow". It would be a windfall of mammoth proportions for the team and the owner would probably die of excitement in anticipation of it happening. There would be TV deals. There would be endorsement deals. It would be the biggest thing since the moon landing. And money talks. There are other factors in the NFL so I'm less confident about there, but I certainly don't know that it wouldn't happen.
posted by Justinian at 3:20 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and more on topic; war dogs have been around about as long as there has been war and dogs. Any human activity you care to name probably has a history of occurring alongside our canine buddies. Which is why I consider myself a dog person despite having owned a cat for over a decade. Humans and dogs evolved (at least metaphorically) together, we are a team. Cats are cute and I love 'em but they don't have the same history with humanity that dogs have.

First terran astronaut: Laika the dog!
posted by Justinian at 3:23 PM on May 5, 2011


Cats, heh. My cousin just had his first kid and he's telling me it doesn't do anything other than eat, sleep and poop. My response was "Yep, like a cat!"
posted by P.o.B. at 3:35 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Excepts cats don't die if you ignore them for a week. So dogs >> cats >> babies.
posted by Justinian at 3:36 PM on May 5, 2011


I saw something on the news tonight about those titanium teeth.













I wonder if the dog was a girl or a boy?
posted by Bonzai at 4:26 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


*looks online for women who really, really want to be SEALs, clearly have the physical capacity to be SEALs, but can't get in*
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:35 PM on May 5, 2011


It is most likely because dogs are considered to be unclean in Islam.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_animals#Dogs

It is said that angels do not enter a house which contains a dog.
posted by tofupup at 5:58 PM on May 5, 2011


I'm normally a cat person, but I would definitely not want one in a war zone. Mine would be all, "Osama! Give me your tuna or I'm going to unroll your toilet paper!"

Yeah, even the best cats are not great in some situations.

There was a recent trial where a cat was called to give testimony in favor of the plaintiff, but the cagey attorney for the defense said, "Yes, but isn't it true that you only agreed to testify in return for a can of tuna fish?"

It was all downhill from there.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:59 PM on May 5, 2011


Cool photo: Military Dog Jumping Out of a Helicopter
posted by quin at 8:01 PM on May 5, 2011


It is said that angels do not enter a house which contains a dog.

One dog fart cleared all the angels out of my house, I'll tell you what.
posted by desjardins at 8:16 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


As to sports, we don't both know that. I guarantee you that if a woman could compete in, say, MLB or the MBA or the NHL she would be out there on the field faster than you can say "billion dollar cash cow".

Right. Well, if you have a biological reason why there is not one woman in the world who could "compete" as, say, a catcher or a base coach -- even a terrible one who was just trotted out for a couple of early-season games to get those "billion dollars" -- I'd love to hear it. I'm not aware of any active major-league scouting for female players, either, which is very odd if they're really such a "cash cow"...

Again, not all positions in sports are dependent on high levels of strength (or even medium levels, in the case of coaches, umpires, referees, and the like), so at some point we have to start asking why women are never in them during the regular season.
posted by vorfeed at 9:52 PM on May 5, 2011


Here's the War on Terror flying ace high over Pakistan, searching for the infamous Bin Laden! I must bring him down!

The fact that women are specifically prohibited from joining the Navy SEALs has nothing to do with fitness...don't see why we're talking about physical capabilities at all, because they do not factor in to the reason why women are disallowed from combat training.

Two different things. Women in combat and female SEALs. 1. There are very well trained women out there. 2. Not everyone who goes through BUD/S becomes a SEAL. You have (offhand, ) EOD, the Coast Guard, who has a deployable operatins group that does have K9 teams. So there's that.

And one big thing is not physical standards but physical 'standards.' That is, standardization. If you have an all male crew, that's one less thing to worry about, less stuff to carry, etc. you have a standard. All men are physically alike. Women are in fact different.

This is not to say the difference can't be overcome. But in terms of what SEALs do ... there are generalist specialists and there are specialist specialists.
There's no reason you couldn't, say, have a whole squad of women.

There are some arguments as to operational endurance. Men - specifically small framed men not tyrannosaurs like me, are more efficient in the field. They eat less, drink less, carry (proportionately) more, pound for pound they're what you want for general situations where they can spend more time in thefield employing their special skills.
(You look at most of the dropouts, they're not all weak, there are weightlifters who can't make it. Triathletes with those big quads. Interesting thing about low body fat, you sink)
So there could be some argument for standardizing the men too. On the other hand, big guys are quieter. Seems counterintutive but I can lift more, better odds in close quarters and push comes to shove I can go further with less ...in a pinch. Just not forever like you midgets can.

Specialist specialists would be where you have no excuse not to put women in the field. Because you're more focused. Mossad yeah. Plenty of serious commandos who are women. So it can be done.
SEALs technically arent' supposed to do certain things. But that hasn't been so true since nifty package at Paitilla, so it is certainly possible to open up to women if the will was there.

I don't know if it will be. Sexism and all other considerations aside, it's simply a logistics problem. Is it worth it to accommodate both sexes given 'x' needs in the mission.
For counter-terrorism, or at least elements of it, it certainly could be. Since you rely less on field work, vertical insertions, CQB (where I get to shine) and getting places without support.

The White Tigers do that. I think they have it going on over the Israelis. Perhaps I'm biased by a little bitty Col. who likes to whip my tail now and again and make me think that way, but the 707th is a Battalion. Meaning you've got a large group to draw on under one roof and select by skills so it's modular and you can create teams customed to your op. From there it's just training for the mission. Easy

Getting a bit punchy.

I'm taking up too much space with this derail too. So I'll get to the point for once - JSOC here in the U.S. is a joint endeavor. We're slowly getting things under one roof, but you still have some of that interservice rivalry.
Right now it's mix and match and that's good. But with women, you introduce a variable into what is otherwise a pretty set piece.
If you've got all different kinds of .44 mag shooting weapons. And someone gives you some .40 SW, now you've got to either get a weapon that can shoot that, or not accept the bullets.
That's the hold up.

But there's no question in my mind women can fight in combat AND have a combat role to play in SOF.
But as a SEAL? Well, it would change what being a SEAL is. So...
But again, we'ren't supposed to take out airfields in '89. It's a ranger job. But that's what got done.
Still, you're not in the teams once you pass. There's other training involved, and more obstacles, it never ends. Could a woman make it through that? Maybe. (Can a man? Same answer) but each successive level requires a great deal of drive and desire to be.
Even apart from women who try, and make it, will they want to keep making it and keep the level of dedication required? Not many men do. They crawl off and ring the bell.
So why spend the money if only a few men make it through and the likelihood of a woman making it is less? And that she would cost more, etc.

My answer would be - down the road, it will even out. Because it's better to have a certain capability and not need it (yet) then to need it and not have it.
A combined team with a female sniper/interrogator would be formidable.
Politically though we're not ready for it. Sexism arguments. QED.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:57 PM on May 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


(this could probably go in the main Bin Laden thread)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:23 AM on May 6, 2011


Right. Well, if you have a biological reason why there is not one woman in the world who could "compete" as, say, a catcher or a base coach

There are absolutely physical reasons why women aren't catchers in MLB. Your statement implies that catchers are the least physically demanding position on the field but I really don't think reality bears that out. Being a pro catcher is freakin' hard. Base coach? That's just moving the goalposts. There's obviously no biological reason why women couldn't be at least as good at coaching and I didn't say otherwise. It's a little disingenuous to read my "compete" to include coaching since the generally understood meaning of "competing" in, say, MLB is to be a player on the field.

The reason we don't have female coaches is because far fewer women than men play baseball at all levels (which may well be due to sexism) and, secondarily, because so many coaches come out of MLB itself (which is due to physical reality). If you don't play baseball at the highest levels you're less likely to develop the skills to coach baseball at the highest levels.
posted by Justinian at 10:34 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, if you have a biological reason why there is not one woman in the world who could "compete" as, say, a catcher or ... coaches, umpires, referees, and the like

You would have to come up with better example than a catcher because that position does rely on being big and defending the home base. If you really wanted to talk about sexism in sports than probably start with something like Golf, but even then the top guys are going to outperform the top women 99+% of the time. That's just going to happen over and over again and I don't see how inserting woman into that type of lose-lose situation is going to make the game "better", inherent sexism or not.
As far as coaches, umps, and refs, that's a whole different paradigm your talking about. Not that it couldn't happen for umps and refs but that's not a billion dollar spot we're talking about either so I suppose if any woman really wanted to tackle that they should get on it, but I don't know how those positions are garner. Do you? Coaches are generally ex-players so in a sense they often earn that spot but the "friends and family" plan also has a lot to do with it. Also you're talking about a lot of social dynamics and interaction that you just can't engineer on the spot and no matter how good they are just by dropping someone into that position, man or woman, isn't going to make the gears automatically turn.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Navy SEAL dogs don’t have titanium teeth.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:02 PM on May 6, 2011


Cool photo: Military Dog Jumping Out of a Helicopter

That is a cool photo. Also other photos from the set from which that one comes.

And ... "A U.S. Navy SEAL, Mike Forsythe, and his dog, Cara -- pictured [below] -- recently broke the world record for "highest man/dog parachute deployment" by jumping from 30,100 feet." Wow!
posted by ericb at 12:08 PM on May 6, 2011


"Today, MWDs [Military Working Dogs] are outfitted with equipment of their own -- a range of specialized gear that includes Doggles (protective eye wear), body armor, life vests, gas masks, long-range GPS-equipped vests, and high-tech canine 'flak jackets.'" *
Photo.
posted by ericb at 12:14 PM on May 6, 2011


Cats of War -- "The Pentagon's top-secret feline special-operations program, revealed."
posted by ericb at 2:03 PM on May 6, 2011


There are absolutely physical reasons why women aren't catchers in MLB. Your statement implies that catchers are the least physically demanding position on the field but I really don't think reality bears that out. Being a pro catcher is freakin' hard.

Yes, I understand that. Freakin' hard to the point where even the best woman couldn't possibly do it, though, "even a terrible one who was just trotted out for a couple of early-season games to get those 'billion dollars'"? I don't buy that, not in a world absent of sexism (and in a world absent of sexism, sports would have plenty of positions which wouldn't depend on male traits like "being big and defending the home base". Sports might look more like korfball than football).

I don't think it's moving the goalposts to mention coaches, umpires, refs, and the other myriad sports-related positions which are nearly always filled by men, either -- my point is simply that sexism surrounds the issue. You seem to be arguing that pro sports are chock-full of sexism right up until everyone runs onto the field, at which point it's Purely Physical Reality, but what's keeping women off the field is both physical reality and sexism. We are talking about complex team sports, here, not mortal combat or weightlifting. We're a sexually dimorphic species, yet the rules of team sport always arrange the game so that male physicality is required; that's sexist.

If we can have instant replay, designated hitters, commercial-break friendly pro football, etc, then we could have rules which put women on the field along with men, if we wanted to. We just don't. Frankly, that's fine -- I am all for having pro sports which emphasize physicality and celebrate only the "the tail end of the normal distribution" -- but let's not pretend that this is an inevitable result of some ironclad "physical reality", as if the rules of baseball were found written in our DNA and cannot be altered.
posted by vorfeed at 3:42 PM on May 6, 2011


Yes, I understand that. Freakin' hard to the point where even the best woman couldn't possibly do it, though, "even a terrible one who was just trotted out for a couple of early-season games to get those 'billion dollars'"? I don't buy that

I buy it. When you are only taking exceptional athletes the men will be more capable. Top tier pro teams don't bring up players as publicity stunts. Lower tier leagues do, and have.

We're a sexually dimorphic species, yet the rules of team sport always arrange the game so that male physicality is required; that's sexist.

I've been thinking about this one a lot. Pairs figure skating can't be the only sport that can take advantage of members of both genders on one team.

...but I can't really think of a way to design a game with the basic move the ball around concept that would really work that way. Maybe something like baseball that is low contact you could just say, "Okay, half the team has to be female." and we could see how that worked out. It would be fair, it would be interesting, and would add a ton of strategy.

...but the women would be destroyed to the point where it would be embarrassing to the participants.

That Korfball game is definitely cool to learn about, but it still segregates the participants to a degree.

During the match they cannot switch zones Men and women play side-by-side, but duels are man to man and woman to woman. However, it is allowed for a player to switch among opponents whom he/she is defending, as long as they are of the same sex.

Even when you design a game to be for both genders, you have to segregate it out because of physical reality.

You can't do that to a sport like football without changing it in to a different game entirely.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:05 PM on May 6, 2011


but what's keeping women off the field is both physical reality and sexism.

Which I don't think anybody is disputing, but the problem is your attacking this top down at which point you basically only are talking about physicalities . Same thing with the Navy SEALs. You can't point at a very specific highly specialized end point and start talking about how unfair that is... well, I mean you could but I think your looking in the wrong place. Start from the bottom and work your way up and I think it's much easier to talk about where physicality and sexism seperate farther and farther apart, like at the high school level. Because high school is where colleges get their athletes from and thusly pro teams get their athletes from colleges. There is very little in the way of "walk on" abilities being staged at the more competitive universities and it's rare if anybody "walks on" to a pro team. We're talking rare.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:13 PM on May 6, 2011


You can't point at a very specific highly specialized end point and start talking about how unfair that is...

I think my first post makes it pretty clear that it's not that simple. I'm just pointing out that this stuff is partly sexist all the way to the top, and that it is not just a factor of physical reality. If sexism is both ancient and starts pretty much at birth, then it doesn't make sense to point at a very specific highly specialized end point and start talking about how fair that is, either... pro ball players and the SEALs are not the only possible specialization points, and, again, they did not arise in a vacuum. If every step up the pyramid is sexist, from birth on through high-school and beyond, then it's worth pointing out that its "end point" is not just floating in thin air.

I agree that it would be best to start from the bottom and work upward... but given our attitudes toward our children, there are many reasons why this may not work without encouraging adults to lead the way and change the surrounding culture. For better or worse, sexism is a much more powerful force in young children's lives than it is for adults.
posted by vorfeed at 5:04 PM on May 6, 2011


to point at a very specific highly specialized end point and start talking about how fair that is, either... pro ball players and the SEALs are not the only possible specialization points, and, again, they did not arise in a vacuum

Right, and again, I don't think anybody is disputing that but the genesis of the discussion was "Why aren't there women in the SEALs?" My (and others) main point was that the discussion really shouldn't revolve around X,Y and Z, but more realistically around A, B, and C.
If we're at a point of 'it's just sexist turtles all the way down', then I don't think anybody has a real answer for that beyond a tacit agreement and an exodus from the conversation.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:52 PM on May 6, 2011


My (and others) main point was that the discussion really shouldn't revolve around X,Y and Z, but more realistically around A, B, and C. If we're at a point of 'it's just sexist turtles all the way down', then I don't think anybody has a real answer for that beyond a tacit agreement and an exodus from the conversation.

Maybe so, and like I said above, the physical aspect is a very important point; I just get annoyed at the "this socially-constructed role is an absolute consequence of our physical nature!" line of argument. If we're being perfectly honest, then the "physical reality" for women involves rape and control from the cradle to the grave; next to what we've already overcome, being allowed to play pro baseball or be a SEAL is a pretty goddamn trivial cultural hurdle.

If clearing that hurdle takes changing standards or widening the competitive field, then I'm willing to bet that the standards will eventually change, and that the field will widen, and that physical reality will also fail to intervene to stop the "impossible" outcome of a larger pool of the-weakest-of-the-strongest-are-not-as-strong-as-before-but-now-include-a-few-women commandos and ball players. I mean, the way some people talk you'd think this was about something literally physical like squatting half a ton, not about being considered good enough to hold membership in a club.
posted by vorfeed at 7:06 PM on May 6, 2011


The reality is between the extremes of lift a ton and membership in a club, but yes males having better peak physical potential is not because of sexism and it is why they don't play pro sports with men.

The physical reality is women in the US are encouraged to join sports or other physical pursuits from an early age and equality in athletics in protected by law at educational facilities. It hasn't made women track stars as fast as male track stars.

If we are making massive changes to our culture I'd rather stop encouraging boys to join the military instead of starting to encourage girls.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:17 AM on May 7, 2011


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