- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
As President Obama made his announcement this week about the troop drawdown this week, allied forces in Afghanistan are on the topic table again. European allies responded positively to the president’s announcement. U.K. prime minister David Cameron, who announced his own plan for British troop withdrawals in May, was quick to applaud Obama, adding:
We will keep UK force levels in Afghanistan under constant review. I have already said there will be no UK troops in combat roles in Afghanistan by 2015 and, where conditions on the ground allow, it is right that we bring troops home sooner."
Britain has approximately 10,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan — the second highest number after the United States. Working alongside Cornish soldiers on the frontlines out of Camp Bastion — Britain’s largest military base in the country — are a troop of 70 military dogs. So what’s life like for a British military dog in Afghanistan? Actually, not too shabby.
The accomodations for these war dogs (as seen in this BBC video) are extensive. Each dog has his or her own kennel quarters — a small square building with both an indoor and outdoor component. The indoor quarters are air conditioned and each kennel has its own self-sustaining power source.
While on patrol, each handler is outfitted with a special canine first aid kit. For the detection and patrol dogs in Afghanistan, heat is always the handlers’ and veterinary medics’ biggest concern. There’s also only one pool on base — and it’s just for the dogs.
But the canines aren’t the only ones happy with these arrangements:
Private Daniel Gregory, from Bodmin, helps look after the dogs at Camp Bastion [says]: ‘It’s the love of the dogs, working outside everyday. It’s a good job, a really good job.’
In the photo above, British Army soldier Lcpl Marianne Hay from the Royal Army Veterinary Corp, crouches next to her explosives dog Leanna on Aug. 3, 2008 in Maywand District in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.