A display of bravery, courage, and loyalty earns dog top military honor in Britain.
Mali, an eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, and is proof you don’t need to be human to showcase leadership and courage. He has also been rightly named a war hero. Today, he received the Dickin Medal, which is the equivalent to the Victoria Cross. The highest possible military award.
Mali is being recognized for his work in Afganistan, twice entering a building in Kabul which was filled with Taliban fighters. He successfully sniffed out explosives and saved lives in the process.
“There was a massive gun battle with British Forces against the Taliban and Mali was sent into the building ahead of the troops,” recalled Corporal Daniel Hatley, Mali’s primary handler. “Mali searched out IUDs and enemy fighters. The amount of noise, dust, and smoke, must have overloaded his senses. He received two injuries from blast grenades, which were thrown down the stairs at him. His injuries were to his face, torso, and hips. He still carried on.”
After treatment, Mali made a full recovery. The Ministry of Defense stated without the work of Mali; there could have been multiple casualties of British Troops.
The British Military has more than 500 dogs in active roles, from sniffing out explosives to hunting down insurgents. Despite the technological advances in other areas of the military, dogs, it seems, are irreplaceable.
“I think it is a long way to go before we have something that can replace all the great things dogs can do for the military,” said Colonel Neil Smith, Chief Veterinary Officer, British Army. “The dog is an extremely good scent detector, very agile, can go into many places troops cannot, and they are very good for morale as well.”
Mali is now part of the canine training squadron, which teaches the dog and their handlers about their roles in the military. Both soldier and dog face the same dangers on the battlefield.
What was Mali’s reaction when receiving the medal? He tried to eat it of course.