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Dog on bin Laden mission steals spotlight from Navy SEALs
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Dog on bin Laden mission steals spotlight from Navy SEALs

  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Reese and his military working dog Grek wait at a safe house before conducting an assault against insurgents in Iraq, 2007.
    U.S. Air ForceU.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Reese and his military working dog Grek wait at a safe house before conducting an assault against insurgents in Iraq, 2007.
  • Staff Sgt. Michael Hile with Ronnie, his military working dog, is hoisted into a Blackhawk helicopter during a canine-hoist training mission near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 2007
    U.S. ArmyStaff Sgt. Michael Hile with Ronnie, his military working dog, is hoisted into a Blackhawk helicopter during a canine-hoist training mission near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 2007
  • U.S. Army Spc. Marc Whittaker holds back his military working dog Anax while U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Erin Simes, a canine handler, acts as a decoy during an end of leash drill at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, April 5.
    U.S. ArmyU.S. Army Spc. Marc Whittaker holds back his military working dog Anax while U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Erin Simes, a canine handler, acts as a decoy during an end of leash drill at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, April 5.
  • U.S. Army Sgt. Stephen M. Netzzley and his military working dog check for explosives in an area where a weapons cache was found in Logar province, Afghanistan, 2009.
    U.S. ArmyU.S. Army Sgt. Stephen M. Netzzley and his military working dog check for explosives in an area where a weapons cache was found in Logar province, Afghanistan, 2009.
  • Staff Sgt. Michael Stevens, a military working dog handler, runs his military working/patrol explosive detection dog Karo through an explosive device detection training session at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan, in February.
    U.S. Air ForceStaff Sgt. Michael Stevens, a military working dog handler, runs his military working/patrol explosive detection dog Karo through an explosive device detection training session at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan, in February.
  • Cash, a military working dog, leads a congressional delegation through the streets of Garmsir District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in February.
    U.S. Embassy, Kabul/FlickrCash, a military working dog, leads a congressional delegation through the streets of Garmsir District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in February.

The Navy SEALs who took down Osama bin Laden did not have to operate alone. They had the help of one very courageous dog.

The American team that stormed bin Laden's compound in Pakistan and killed the al-Qaeda leader and much of his entourage included a dog, most likely a German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois.

And this dog has now captured the nation's attention and imagination.

Belgian Malinois and German shepherds are often used in the United States as police dogs, valued for their search and rescue capabilities. The inclusion of one of these types of dogs in the bin Laden raid highlights the military's growing use of dogs in wars. They are often needed to quickly find bombs.

They are also good at detecting—and catching—fugitives like bin Laden.

“The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said last year as reported in the New York Times.

The news that a dog was part of the bin Laden raid has drawn significant attention.

Foreign Policy has a slideshow on war dogs.

The Guardian lets us know the dog was lowered into the Pakistan compound while strapped to a human member of the team.

The Daily has a strange image of what that might have looked like.

And the Washington Post has a Q&A with Gerry Proctor, an officer at Lackland Air Force base in the dog training division.

What's your take?

What are your thoughts on the bin Laden operation dog? Is he (or she) a national hero? Should we know his (or her) identity? And should dogs be used in war operations? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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