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American ‘canine officers’ in India for Obama security

Barack Obama

New Delhi: One of them was part of the elite US Navy SEALS team that hunted down the dreaded Osama bin Laden and now this special squad is in the Capital as part of US President Barack Obama’s security drill.

No, these are not the US marines but are American ‘canine officers’ who are here to help sanitise and conduct anti-sabotage checks at some of the prime venues where Obama will visit during his three-day trip to India starting this Sunday. These officers have been also given military ranks.

Sources said today that an elite team of seven Belgian ‘Malinois’ dogs, one of whom who assisted the US Navy SEALS in neutralising bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan on May 2, 2011 have been flown down here.

The imemdiate task of the canines is to secure ITC Maurya–which will be Obama’s home for three days–along with their counterparts from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP).

Officials familiar with the canines’ operation said both the dog squads have been deployed to “sanitise and secure” the luxury hotel and have been tasked with sniffing different flanks of the hotel.

After this, another batch of these four-legged soldiers will be pressed into service for similar duties at Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan and a few other locations.

“The first batch of about seven US Navy SEALS dogs have arrived here. They have been tasked to work in coordination with a chosen squad of Labradors and German Shepherds of the ITBP. The US has given them military ranks and call them canine officers,” officials said.

They said a joint security teams of US and Indian sleuths decided to deploy the combination of these two units so that “nothing is left to chance.”

“The ITBP dogs are trained to perform in Indian conditions. They will complement the work of the American dog squad. Another batch of the US dogs team is expected to come later,” they said.

The ITBP, a border guarding force under the Union Home Ministry and a centre for excellence in police and military canine subjects, has already pooled in a 30-dogs squad for the entire visit of the US President, who will be the chief guest of this years main Republic Day parade here on January 26.

The Belgian ‘Malinois’, a litter of an Israeli male Malinois crossed with an American bitch, is one of the most tough and sturdy dog breeds which are used by a majority of military forces world over including by Indian paramilitary forces in the anti-Naxal operations domain.

The dog, which has a heavy snout and a big head, can detect suspect human presence, explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with a precise correctness and it is intelligent enough to communicate these signals through a nod of his head and not by barking, which could lead to alerting of the target.

The ITBP ‘K9′ squad has been given the most important tasks to perform for this high-profile visit and they will be performing their task in the inner ring along with sniffer dogs of other agencies like the Delhi Police, NSG, CISF and CRPF.

A handful of ITBP dogs have been kept as reserve for emergency anti-sabotage sniffing tasks.

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