Meet the camels, Beluga spy whales, and other animals who serve in militaries around the world
- Animals have been used in battle for centuries - from Hannibal's Alps-crossing elephants to World War I messenger pigeons, they have played a vital role in wars over the centuries.
- While technology has phased many animals out of service, there are some jobs that only animals can do - a dolphin's sonar is the best tool for detecting underwater mines, for example.
- Militaries all over the world still use animals in vital roles.
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From the horses of Chinggis Khan's army, to Hannibal's famed elephants, to World War I carrier pigeons, animals have played a crucial role in military operations for centuries.
But despite the technological achievements since Hannibal marched his elephants over the Alps in 218 BCE, militaries still use animals, whether for parades, transport, or weapons detection.In September, as Hurricane Dorian pummeled parts of the southeastern United States, the team of marine mammals from Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic in Kings Bay, Georgia, where they patrol the waters for enemy crafts or other intruders, were evacuated to Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, Florida, to ride out the storm.
"At NSWC PCD, we personally understand the trials and tribulations that come with the devastation of a hurricane, especially after Hurricane Michael severely impacted our area in 2018," Nicole Waters, the Machine Shops Project Manager in Panama City told Navy Times.
"We strongly support the 'One Team, One Fight' initiative and will always be willing to help protect any Navy personnel and assets."
Read on to learn more about the roles animals play in today's militaries.