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Afghanistan: Dogs of War

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Throughout the course of the long war in Afghanistan, Coalition troops have relied on thousands of military working dogs to help keep them safe, and make their jobs easier. The dogs are trained to detect explosives, to find illegal drugs, to search for missing comrades, or target enemy combatants. Not only are they active on the front lines, but behind the lines they serve as therapy dogs, service dogs, and loyal companions. They also share the same risks as the ground troops, suffering injuries and sometimes death on the battlefields. Gathered here are images of these dogs and their handlers in Afghanistan and back home, from over the past several years, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. [40 photos]

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Ricky, an explosive detector dog, with Canadian soldiers from Task Force 3-09 Battle Group during operation Tazi, a village search and security operation in the Dand area of Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan, on January 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Ricky, an explosive detector dog, with Canadian soldiers from Task Force 3-09 Battle Group during operation Tazi, a village search and security operation in the Dand area of Kandahar Province, southern Afghanistan, on January 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
US Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines fire at alleged Taliban fighters as their dog runs around outside new Mirage base, on the south of Musa Qala District, Helmand province on February 4, 2011. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #
1st Sgt. Dean Bissey, left, Company C "Dustoff", 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, hooks a hoist harness to Staff Sgt. Michael Hile and his military working dog "Ronnie" from 554th Military Police Company July 15 near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (US Army/Spc. Aubree Rundle) #
Lance Cpl. Jeremy D. Angenend, combat tracker handler, Military Police, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and his dog Fito play around at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Angenend and Fito have been partnered for two years. Angenend says that he and Fito have the same kind of goofy, outgoing personalities and they have fun together. "He never has a bad day," says Angenend, "I want no other dog." (USMC/Sgt. Megan Sindelar) #
A US Marine of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, waits for the arrival of an anti-explosives squad team after a roadside bomb was discovered by his sniffer dog, during a 48-hour operation in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on April 1, 2010. (Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images) #
US Marine anti-explosives team of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, blow up a roadside bomb in Marjah, Helmand province, on April 1, 2010. (Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images) #
US Marine anti-explosives squad members check a crater after their anti-explosives squad team blew up a roadside bomb discovered by their sniffer dog in Marjah, Helmand province, on April 1, 2010. A single Afghan man was detained with a scratch map and a mobile number written on his hand nearby the site where the roadside bomb was found. (Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images) #
Paris, a coalition force military working dog, drinks water in Farah province, Afghanistan, on November 26, 2012. (USMC/Sgt. Pete Thibodeau) #
A dog belonging to a German soldier bites an Afghan during riots prior to a soccer match in Kabul's main stadium, on February 15, 2002. The match was to be a goodwill game between peacekeepers and an Afghan team when an overflow crowd began fighting their way through the gates, and Afghan police beat back the crowd with tree branches, strips of rubber, and the butts of their rifles, injuring at least 50 people, according to German peacekeeping medics. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) #
Dog handler Sergeant Justin McGhee and his dog Archie, with the US Army's 67th Engineer Detachment, run for cover during a gun battle with suspected Taliban militants near the village of Jilga in Arghandab District north of Kandahar on July 8, 2010. (Reuters/Bob Strong) #
A U.S. Marine dog handler attends to his his Improvised Device Detection Dog, after he was injured and rescued by a helicopter of the U.S. Army Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment, on the outskirts of Sangin, in the Helmand Province on June 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) #
An Afghan deminer working with a dog on the outskirts of Kabul, on September 13, 2012. (Daud Yardost/AFP/Getty Images) #
Demining dogs work out at the Mine Detection and Dog Center (MDC) in Kabul on August 28, 2012. The center maintains around 200 dogs, some of them operational, some under training. (Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Army Specialist Joe Keck, who lost his left arm in a vehicle accident in Afghanistan in July 2006, and his new service dog Nolls sit on his bed at the residence at the National Education for Assistance Dog Service (NEADS) training facility in Princeton, Massachusetts, on June 25, 2007. (Reuters/Brian Snyder) #
Airman 1st Class Jason Fischman, 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron pararescueman, hoists a U.S. Army tactical explosive detection dog into a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter during a joint rescue training scenario at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on June 21, 2013. (USAF/Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade) #
U.S. Army soldiers of 82nd Airborne Division and sniffer dog Alex sleep in a compound of Afghan security forces at night before a mission in Zahri district of Kandahar province, on May 30, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
US Army occupational therapist Sergeant Paul McCollough and Zeke, a therapy dog, at the Role 2 medical clinic in Kandahar military base, southern Afghanistan, on August 19, 2011. Zeke, a five year old labrador retriever who has a rank of Sergeant First Class, is trained to help soldiers struggling with stress and war trauma. Therapy dogs were first introduced in the war zone in Iraq in 2007 to replicate the psychological benefits the troops gain from US homeland care facilities employing specially trained dogs. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images) #
A US Marine from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines plays with a trained dog at Shagali patrol base, in Musa Qala District, Helmand province on February 3, 2011. Each trained dog used for special purposes in the military can cost 70,000 USD or more. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #
Czech Army dog handler, Staff Sgt. Joseph Reisinger, comforts Altos, an explosives protection dog, at Forward Operating Base Shank on September 30, 2012, in Logar province, Afghanistan. Altos was injured during combat operations earlier in the day. (US Army/Spc. Alexandra Campo) #
Basco, a patrol explosive detector dog with the 627 Security Forces Squadron, and his handler, Sergeant Matthew Templet, search for explosives in an abandoned house in Haji Ghaffar village during a clearance patrol in Zari district of Kandahar province on December 27, 2010. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marine dog handler Sgt. Mark Behl, left, of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force K9 unit, and another Marine, perform first aid on U.S. Military working dog Drak, after he was wounded in a bomb attack in Sangin, Helmand province, on September 8, 2011. Drak's own handler, Sgt Kenneth A. Fischer, was also wounded in the bomb attack, which also killed several civilians. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) #
U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, carry Drak, an injured bomb-tracking dog, to an awaiting helicopter at Forward Operating Base Jackson on September 8, 2011. Both Drak and his handler, Sgt Kenneth A. Fischer, were flown out of the country for surgery and recovery. Eventually, in line with military custom, Fischer will adopt Drak and take him home. (USMC/Cpl. Logan W. Pierce) #
A coalition security force member stands watch with his loyal partner during a mission that arrested a Haqqani facilitator in Pul-e 'Alam district, Logar province, on January 28, 2013. (U.S Army/Pfc. Coty M. Kuhn) #
U.S. Army Spc. Mike Ballard stands with Apollo, his service dog, during an archery shooting session, on May 17, 2012, in Puyallup, Washington. Ballard says his dog helps him get through the worst symptoms of the post-traumatic stress disorder that are a remnant of an explosion in Afghanistan that ended his career as an Army medic. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) #
A U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico as part of exercise Emerald Warrior 2011 on March 1, 2011. Emerald Warrior is an annual two-week joint/combined tactical exercise sponsored by U.S. Special Operations Command designed to leverage lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. (USAF/Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez) #
A military working dog looks at the camera as US Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines clean their weapons before a patrol outside new Mirage base, on the south of Musa Qala District, Helmand province, on February 4, 2011. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marine Cpl. Kyle Click, a 22-year-old improvised explosive device detection dog handler with 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, shares a moment with his dog Windy while waiting to resume a security patrol on February 27, 2012. (USMC/Cpl. Reece Lodder) #
Paris, a coalition force military working dog, stands in a tactical vehicle in Farah province, on November 24, 2012. (USMC/Sgt. Pete Thibodeau) #
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joseph Nunez and Viky, an improvised explosive device detection dog, both attached to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, search the perimeter of a compound for hidden threats during Operation Grizzly in Helmand province on July 18, 2013. (USMC/Cpl. Alejandro Pena) #
US Army Specialist Justin Coletti of the Afghanistan K-9 combat tracker team rests with Dasty, a Belgian Malinois, at an airfield on Forward Operating Base Pasab following a five-hour overnight air assault mission with Bravo Company, 2-87 Infantry Battalion, in Kandahar province on August 15, 2011. Dasty who has a rank of a Sergeant, is a military working dog trained to patrol and locate a targeted individual. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images) #
Service members pet the 98th Medical Detachment Combat Stress Control combat stress dog, Major Eden, at Bagram Air Field on January 21, 2014. (USAF/Senior Airman Kayla Newman) #
In this image made from an undated video provided by the Taliban in Afghanistan, on February 7, 2014, its fighters stand by a military working dog belonging to NATO forces that its spokesman said they captured during a battle in Afghanistan in Laghman province, east of Kabul. The NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan confirmed that one of its military dogs went missing during a mission in December. It gave no other details. (AP Photo/Taliban in Afghanistan) #
US Army Staff Sergeant Lindsey Thompson (right) of US Forces Afghanistan K-9 unit looks at Mayo, a German Shepherd as they prepare to board a convoy of armored vehicles from Forward Operating Base Pasab on an overnight ground assault mission in Kandahar province on August 14, 2011. Mayo who has a rank of Technical Sergeant is a military working dog trained for patrol and find bombs and improvised explosive devices. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan student listens to the heartbeat of a dog during Operation Outreach Afghanistan's tour of the Camp Phoenix veterinary clinic. (US Army National Guard/Capt. Mike Thompson) #
USMC military police attached to 1st Battalion, 6th regiment, Charlie company relaxes with bomb sniffer dog corporal "Buttom" in Huskers camp on the outskirts of Marjah in central Helmand on January 25, 2010. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images) #
A soldier, part of the NATO forces, carries a sniffing dog after a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this April 16, 2012 photo. A brazen, 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended early Monday when insurgents who had holed up overnight in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from U.S.-led coalition helicopters. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) #
Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach, of Madison, Wisconsin, gets a kiss from Casey, a four-year-old yellow labrador that he worked with while deployed in Afghanistan, as the two are reunited during a surprise ceremony at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, on May 17, 2013. Gundlach thought he was traveling to the Iowa Capitol to tell state officials why he should take ownership of the dog, which has been working for the state fire marshal's office. Gundlach didn't realize officials already had made arrangements to get another dog for explosives detection. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) #
Captain Katie Kopp from 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, talks to therapy dog Hank during Hank's visit to Combat Outpost Nangalam in the Pech River Valley of Afghanistan's Kunar Province on July 3, 2012. Hank is the only Boston Terrier therapy dog deployed in this region to interact with soldiers as a stress relief. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) #
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Lee, master at arms, and Petty Officer 1st Class Valdo, working dog, sleep on a hospital floor in Kandahar. Valdo and Lee both were wounded by shrapnel in a rocket propelled grenade attach in Bala Murghab District, Badghis Province, on April 4, 2011. Both Lee and Valdo were awarded Purple Heart medals. Valdo fully recovered after five surgeries, served another year, then retired and now lives with Lee in New Jersey. (USAF/Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace) #
U.S. Marine Sgt. Maj. Lisa K. Nilsson, sergeant major, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, pets a military working dog at Patrol Base Boldak, Helmand Province, on March 6, 2013. (USMC/Cpl. Ashley E. Santy) #

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