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Army raises 12,000-strong dog force for counter-insurgency
A K Dhar in New Delhi | January 09, 2007 13:10 IST
"A dog army of 12,000 specialised canine breeds, mostly Labradors, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherd dogs, is in place in the Indian Army," said Lieutenant Colonel S S Kashyap, a top Remount and Veterinary officer of the corps who breeds them.
"Our success rate against the militants has shot up with the use of these dogs and now virtually every unit deployed in counter insurgency operations has a unit of these dogs," he told PTI.
"Labradors, who have an uncanny sense of sniffing out militants now lead all anti-militancy and road opening mission in Jammu and Kashmir," Kashyap said.
"The German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd dogs are not far behind and form the bulwark of army mine and explosive hunting missions," he said.
Dogs have proved lifesavers for the forces in many instances as they have led patrols to deeply buried explosives and mines in northeast as well as in Jammu and Kashmir.
"It is due to this success that there is virtually a clamour from paramilitary forces for such trained dogs in carrying out anti-Naxal operations in the country's heartland," Kashyap said.
Also, the vital contribution from these dogs is being recognised and given a pride of place. A Remount and Veterinary Corp Tableau has been approved for public display both at this year's Republic Day Parade on January 26th and the Army Day Parade on January 15.
The Tableau would display dogs forming the vanguard of an avalanche rescue operation. The tableau depicts these canines being air dropped from helicopters to sniff out survivors of an snow avalanche.
"Recognition, though delayed, has not come late," officers argue saying that according to rough estimates, these dogs have been useful in as many as over 300 anti-militancy encounters over the years.
Besides this, according to figures compiled by the army, the dogs have been successful in sniffing out explosives and mines in over 110 instances.
The specialised dogs, raised in special RVC breeding kennels in Meerut, have won Shaurya Chakras and as many as 29 special commendations from the Chief of the Army Staff, while for their handlers they have won three times more such coveted awards.
The Army has now 85 such specialised units, with each unit comprising 24 dogs. Of these as many as 35 are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, 15 in North-East and some in Western and Southern Army Commands.
By their merit, the dogs have even won overseas assignments, with almost all the 8,560 Indian troops deployed in UN peacekeeping missions sporting three to four dog units.
The success rate has been so much that 20 units have also been deployed all along the 743 km long Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.