The U.S. special operations canine from the Delta Force raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is one salty war dog.
In fact, Conan — the all-too fitting name for this particular military working dog — probably has more time downrange than some U.S. service members, which kind of makes us all boots compared to this dog, especially when you figure in dog years.
“This dog is a four-year veteran of the SOCOM K-9 program, and has been a member of approximately 50 combat missions,” Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said during a Pentagon press conference on Wednesday.
“[She] was injured by exposed live electrical cables in the tunnel after Baghdadi detonated his vest beneath the compound,” he added. “I will also note that has been returned to duty.”
While animals are barred from receiving military awards like the Purple Heart, there has been plenty of speculation in light of Conan's upcoming visit to the White House — and a viral meme from President Donald Trump — that perhaps an exception would be carved out for Conan.
Thank you Daily Wire. Very cute recreation, but the “live” version of Conan will be leaving the Middle East for the White House sometime next week! https://t.co/Z1UfhxsSpT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2019
However, the Department of Defense clarified the military's stance on awarding canine courage:
“Earlier this year, the department established the Military Working Dog (MWD) Handler Certificate of Commendation program to recognize the actions of MWD Handlers and dogs,” Lisa Lawrence, a Pentagon spokeswoman told Task & Purpose. “Each respective military department is responsible for awarding the MWD Handler Certificate of Commendation in accordance with established award criteria.”
Conan is hardly the first canine to draw national attention, and praise for being a very good dog. During the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, a Belgian Malinois named Cairo — reportedly the same breed as Conan — accompanied Navy SEALs on the mission.
And these two are hardly alone: Military working dogs were a common, and welcome, sight during the surge years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“U.S. special operations command military working dogs are critical members of our forces,” McKenzie said during the press conference. “These animals protect U.S. forces, save civilian lives, separate combatants from noncombatants, and immobilize individuals who express hostile intent.”