Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan claim to have captured a prisoner of war; a British military service dog named Colonel. The pup was captured by Taliban insurgents last December in a raid. They have released a video showing the dog, still wearing its military gear.
The video was posted on an Islamic website showing the dog secured with a chain surrounded by Taliban soldiers. The video shows not only the dog, but, seized automatic rifles and hand grenades. Also, the video boasts that during the raid the Taliban also killed six “US terrorists.” They also posted to Twitter about the incident.
The International Assistance Security Force (IASF) does confirm that a military canine did go missing in December of 2013 and that it was IASF policy to alert the authorities, in this case the Afghanistan police, about the incident.
The captured British military canine the Taliban claim to have is seen in the video wearing its harness with a GPS device, a flashlight and a camera. The dog is not alone in the video, there are also Taliban soldiers gathered around the pup showing off the weapons they seized in the raid as well.
The dog looks confused but otherwise unharmed in the video, however, it is unknown when the video was actually made and if Colonel is still alive. NATO and British officials have not released any further information or comments on the fate of the dog.
Colonel was part of a British Special Forces team that was involved in a deadly skirmish last December, according to a military official who, under anonymity, confirmed the dog’s identity.
For many, this is the first time they have seen a military dog used as a prisoner of war. Rita Katz of the Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group combed her databases and she says this may be a first. The only other time a canine was mentioned was in Iraq when insurgents planned on using the dogs as suicide bombers.
Afghanistan officials have often attempted to discourage NATO and the IASF from using dogs, since many Muslims look down on the animals as unclean and contact with the dogs can make them impure therefore unfit for prayer. Afghans do not keep dogs as pets for this reason, however, there are some circles that breed them for sport fighting.
Kevin Dredden, a former Air Force dog handler, told the Washington Post that Colonel could have been released by his handler during the firefight to attack or search off leash and that it’s possible the dog was captured by the Taliban while preforming his duties. One thing is for sure, the dog’s handler is “devastated” by his loss. Handlers often form unbreakable ties with their animal, operating more as a team than a master/pet role.
Coalition forces use dogs for a wide array of purposes from protection to bomb sniffing. They can be an essential part of a team, offering senses that humans do not have. The Taliban may claim to have captured just a canine but they have actually captured an allied soldier that is serving his country in the British military.
By Adam Stier