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DOGS OF WAR

Military Attempts To Weaponise Animals

From Hannibal’s epic Elephant ride across the Alps to Genghis Khan’s magnificent War Horses, animals have always been used in warfare to fight, and die, alongside the men and women on the battlefields.

But some animals go much farther in the service of their war-mongering masters.

I am referring to the ideas that Military Intelligence have come up with over the years utilising the talents of four-legged and winged creatures, who’s sole purpose was getting blown up for king and country.

1941 was a dark year for England. The Germans had already subjugated half of Europe, the Luftwaffe was pounding London from the air and U-boats were inflicting terrible losses along Allied shipping routes.

Being attacked on all fronts, British Military Intelligence searched high and low for a crack in the seemingly impenetrable armor of the German war machine.

RAT BOMBS

Developed by the Special Operations Executive, these were real rat carcasses stuffed with explosives. The plan was to contaminate German coal supplies with rat bombs in the hope that the rats would be shovelled into boilers along with the coal, whereupon the heat would detonate the bombs.

If successful, the damage to German infrastructure could have been massive.

The Germans though, intercepted the first shipment of rat bombs and, alerted to the threat, began scouring their coal supplies for suspiciously stiff, bomb-shaped rat carcasses, whereupon the British gave up on the whole idea. Or at least, that’s what they wanted the rest of the world to think.

FIRE BIRDS & BAT BOMBS

Since the beginning of time, man has marvelled at the sight of birds in flight.

Indeed, Military ‘Experts’ have been trying to use birds as incendiary weapons for Centuries. The idea was that if you caught the birds that nested within a walled city, and attached fire to them somehow, they would return to their nests and start an inferno.

Chinese military manuals from the Tang and Ming dynasties describe the technique, and it was put into use by both Olga of Kiev in the 10th century and Viking Chief Harald Hardrade, in the 11th century, and was a success both times.

But the idea didn’t reach its full potential until the final years of WWII, when an American dental surgeon, named Lyle S. Adams, tried to come up with a way to bring Japan to its knees.

Instead of birds, though, Adams proposed using bats.

Millions of them.

Each bat would have a small incendiary charge attached to its leg. The bats would then be packed by the thousands into special bomb casings and dropped over the target.

At the right altitude, the casings would open and release the bats in a Hellstorm of leathery wings. When dawn came, the bats would go off in search of some nice, dark place to sleep.

Like a large building.

At a given signal, a timer would detonate the charges, and all Hell would break loose.

Initial results were promising, including one large-scale test that all involved considered a rousing success.

Unfortunately, the military pulled the plug on the project when the Atomic Bomb became a reality.

WWII was the age of the dive bomber. Dive bombers were especially used to attack high-value targets, such as ships. But even experienced pilots in state-of-the-art planes sometimes missed. How could military engineers improve accuracy when the guidance technology at the time was so limited?

According to the book A Higher Form of Killing, there was a particularly bizarre project of the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency), that involved using cats as weapons.

The idea revolved around the belief that cats hated water so much that, if you dropped a cat bomb in the general vicinity of a ship, the cat would instinctively guide the bomb to the deck below in order to avoid getting wet.

Exactly how a 10 pound cat was supposed to guide a 500 pound bomb to it’s target however, remains unclear.

The project never got past the testing stage. It seems the cats tended to lose consciousness when plunging towards the earth at terminal velocity while strapped to a bomb.

CAMELS, MULES, HORSES & DONKEYS

In 1978, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. A homegrown resistance movement, the Mujahideen, rose up to challenge the invaders, and the CIA, reasoning that the enemy of the enemy is our friend, wasted no time in helping to train, finance and equip them.

Thank Christ the CIA never acts without considering the long-term consequences.

In almost any other country in the world, one of the main weapons of a small guerrilla force fighting an invading superpower would be the car bomb: the classic weapon of asymmetric warfare.

Unfortunately, due to the absence of a ready supply of cars, the CIA turned to the next best thing: Camels with explosives strapped to them!

The Soviet Union was finally defeated and driven out of Afghanistan by 1989, but whether the ultimate cause was domestic politics, global economics or wave after wave of dull-eyed camel bombs, we may never know.

What we do know is that the idea of strapping a bomb onto a beast of burden and sending it off to its fiery doom caught on around the world.

Of course, each culture puts its own spin on the idea. In India, they use mules; in Colombia, they use horses and in the Palestinian Territories, they use donkeys.

It makes one wonder, how far are Military Intelligence willing to go?

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