Osama-Cairo

SEAL Team 6 & Cairo

On the first night of May 2011, two Black Hawk helicopters took off from Afghanistan on a top-secret mission to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. The Black Hawks, which had been modified to disguise their heat signatures and mask them from radar, were bound for Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden was suspected of hiding. The crew included 23 members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six, members of the Army’s select Night Stalkers regiment, and a dog named Cairo.

It was a dark, moonless evening—“low loom,” in military parlance. Cairo, a seventy-pound Belgian Malinois, sat on the floor of the second chopper, huddled among eleven SEALs and an interpreter.

He likely wore a lightweight tactical vest made with dual Kevlar panels, which were designed to withstand everything from knife attacks to shrapnel, and an infrared camera that could transmit images back to his handler. All told, he probably carried more than $20,000 worth of gear.

His skills and intelligence, however, were what made him indispensable to the mission. Cairo was trained to fill any number of roles. The first would be to stand guard outside the compound, alerting the soldiers to anyone who approached. If a crowd gathered, he could help keep the locals at bay. Inside the compound walls, Cairo could sniff out bombs or booby traps; he could even help locate bin Laden, in the event he was hiding in a spider hole or some other secret area. If someone in the house tried to escape, Cairo could chase him down, utilizing his speed (twice that of a human’s) and strength (a bite pressure of seven hundred pounds per square inch). In the most extreme scenario, he might even be used to take down bin Laden, attacking without hesitation on a simple command: “Get ’im!”

According to the mission, Cairo’s helicopter was supposed to hover over one corner of the compound as a few SEALs rappelled to the ground, with Cairo strapped to his handler’s chest. But things in the military seldom go according to plan. The first chopper spun out of control and had to ditch, so the second chopper’s pilot landed in a field across the street. Cairo and four of the SEALs quickly set up a perimeter, and the rest of the team stormed the compound. Thirty-eight minutes later, bin Laden was dead, and Cairo and the SEALs were on their way back home.

(Reprinted with permission from the November 2011 issue of Texas Monthly.)

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22 thoughts on “SEAL Team 6 & Cairo

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Not this time but I’m sure just his presence provided a huge psychological advantage. Cairo will get his chance though if he hasn’t already!

      Reply
  1. Dawn Torrens

    Fabulous story Kevin, thank you so much for sharing this with us all. I am a great supporter of all our forces here in England and stateside. I think you all do a wonderful and difficult job. We often forget about the wonderful dogs that also play there part too and are heros in there own right. I loved this story. And shall visit here often :)

    Reply
  2. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

    Thank you so much Dawn. Dogs are on the front lines in the fight against tyranny. They are providing a tactical and psychological advantage to our troops every day.

    I saw some of the British dog teams at Camp Bastion last year. I have some pics of them forthcoming.

    Reply
  3. laura thomas

    I love reading more about Cairo and Seal Team 6! My prayers go out to all who serve our country and allow us to sleep safely at home!

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      He is certainly fascinating Laura. Cairo lives close to me and I would love to go see him….. probably won’t happen but I think I may just ask.

      Reply
  4. Jerry Dunne

    I never realised just how involved dogs were in the fight against the enemy. And at such a sophisticated level. This was an interesting article; and I like the way it gave the impression that Cairo might be the leader of the team. I wonder how much Cairo wanted to get his hands on Bin Laden personally. I wonder if he has dog and human mates who were hurt or even killed as a consequence of that man’s orders.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Jerry. I can only imagine if Cairo did get a hold of OBL first! I’ve seen our working dogs in action and if one was coming after me I would fall to the ground, curl up in a ball and scream like a baby. Excellent question…..my guess would be yes.

      I’m going to bring a lot of pieces that will also educate the public on our military working dogs. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Ruth. Some of the dogs have headsets that allow the handler to speak to them. Also, it may have been by voice command, hand and arms signals or Cairo went with his instincts.

      Reply
  5. Kathleen Gick

    Kevin,

    Your post on Cairo today inspired me to read this article. Cairo is a true military hero. I can only imagine what the Navy Seals had running through their minds as they commenced this mission. I think Cairo’s mind held the same thoughts as they did on every mission: trust and obey.

    We owe a debt that can’t be repaid to Cairo and his comrads.Thanks for bringing us his story.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you Kathleen. I completely agree with your thoughts on Cairo. Like any great dog…… he was ready to do whatever his dad needed him to do.

      I was in Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan when this raid occurred and I can’t tell how relieved I was to hear the news. I didn’t cheer out loud like most of my fellow service members…rather I thanked a higher authority that such a person no longer existed in this world.

      Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      First time I’ve heard Ceaser chime in on Military Dogs. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thanks Rene! I really appreciate your support! I do love that picture…. it scream mischievous acts to me!

      Reply
  6. Julia Hugo Rachel

    AWESOME! Thank You. Didn’t we hear Cairo Barking on the audio tapes? 700lbs of biting power per sq. inch. OUCH! He is Stunning.

    Blessings,
    Julia

    Reply
    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      You know I never listened to the audio. THough I heard in that new Seal book about the raid that they used Cairo to go after anyone trying to escape….I think they called them squirters.

      Reply
  7. Jani Muhlestein

    I can’t help it. He’s just so cute with his ball. That nose just needs petting. And I know that there’s a belly that needs rubbing. Forget the SEALs, I want to meet Cairo. And how handsome he is in his doggles.

    Ok. So I’d meet the SEALs too.

    Reply

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