The United States, Russia, and Ukraine have all used dolphins, sea lions and beluga whales in their Naval forces before, and K-9 units are common in many defense forces, but now a new country and animal is joining the military creature scene. China has introduced a group of macaque monkeys to their air force division. According to the Chinese state controlled media, the monkeys joined the People's Liberation Army to defend against birds. That's right, the monkeys are up against birds.
Migrating birds have caused issues on the base. (Chinese officials would not confirm which base the monkeys are at, simply referring to it as a Beijing air force base.) The base these monkeys are stationed in sits on one of the largest bird migratory channels in the world, and it is surrounded by the pear blossom trees they like to nest in. In the event they fly into the aircraft engines, the results could be catastrophic; enough to bring down a plane.
In the past, the soldiers used a variety of tactics to rid themselves of the birds: scarecrows, netting, firecrackers, ammunition, and even climbing into the trees to destroy nests. Nothing seemed to work.
According to the Chinese military, the monkeys have been trained to destroy nests and scare birds on command. When their handler blows a whistle, the monkey goes into full bird destruction mode, beginning their climb into the tree. After they destroy the nest and come back down from the tree, the trainer rewards them with a slice of apple. Thus far, the monkeys have destroyed over 180 nests, about six-to-eight nests per day, per monkey. The monkeys have also been trained to walk on a leash along side their trainer, but that might be just for fun.
The People's Liberation Army is calling the monkey commando their "secret weapon." If we had a herd of attack monkeys, they would be our secret weapon too.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.