Monthly Archives: March 2012

Female Marines

Reasons Why Women Shouldn’t Be in Combat Units

Note: This post is a follow up to my post “Women Shouldn’t be in Combat Units.” You might want to read that before reading this post.

“A woman’s motherly instincts won’t allow them to kill.”

“A woman’s place is in the home taking care of the kids.”

Oh, wow, you should see all the hate messages and tweets I received on my post about women in combat units. Of course I respect everyone’s opinion. The ability to voice one’s opinion is one of the many wonderful freedoms we have in our nation. Above are just a couple of the comments I received in response to my post and I’m going to take them seriously in this post. But first I’m going to have a little fun with them.

I’m going to reflect on the classic Saturday Night Live skit with Seth Myers and Amy Poehler,  the skit titled “REALLY?” during the Weekend Update skits.

“A woman’s motherly instincts won’t allow them to kill.”


When I first posted my women in combat piece to my facebook page , Richard Deggans, the Secretary and Web Master for the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, kindly posted a link to an after-action review of the enemy ambush involving Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester’s patrol.  For the full news article go to this link at ABC News Report. Below is one quote from the ABC News Report:Army Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester Silver Star

“When we first started taking fire, I just looked to the right and saw seven or eight guys shooting back at us — muzzle flashes…At first, I shot one guy. I saw him fall.” – Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, 617th Military Police Company, Baghdad , 2005

After you’ve read the after-action review you tell me if Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester or SPC Ashley Pullen’s “motherly” instincts prevented them from doing what they had to do to survive. Motherly instincts mean nothing when your survival instincts kick in. Sgt. Hester was awarded a Silver Star, our nation’s third highest award for valor.

I’ve seen my female soldiers from the 127th Military Police Company heroically fighting the enemy. Hell, I nominated one of my women platoon leaders, 1st Lt. Tristan Vasquez, for a bronze star with valor that she received from the Commanding General.

Have you ever dealt with the scorn of a woman? How about the scorn of your mother, wife or sister? If so, magnify that to infinity when dealing with a pissed off woman fighting for her life.

Okay, on to the next:

“A woman’s place is in the home taking care of the kids.”

Really? No, seriously, Really?”

Hey, male chauvinists, get over yourselves We aren’t locked in an episode of Archie Bunker! Do I really even have to address this comment? All right fine—I will, but first:

A quick and funny story: It was 1998 and I was an Army second lieutenant at Fort Bragg, North Carolina when I received a report about a soldier who had cock roaches in his government quarters. So I went there with my platoon sergeant and a squad leader, not knowing what to expect.

We entered the house to find it covered in cockroaches. Picked up the crib mattress . . . bang cockroaches. Opened the cabinet filled with baby bottles . . . cockroaches scramble. They were on the walls, closets and crawling in the refrigerator.  I had lived with cockroaches for three years at my fraternity house at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, so I was ordinarily a bit numb to these creatures. But these bastards wouldn’t run away. They stared you down as if saying, “This is my turf. Take a hike, pal!”

So I talk to the young soldier and came to find out his wife had pretty much stopped cleaning and he refused to clean.

“Why won’t you clean, Specialist Smith,” I asked him.

“That is woman’s work,” he replied staring me dead in the eyes.

I paused for a minute to see if he was joking around.

He wasn’t, so I asked, “What is up with your wife, man? Why won’t she clean?”

“She’s pissed because I won’t let her get a job.”

“Her having a job makes sense to me. You know it would help, especially with having three young kids.”

“Sir, my job is to provide. Her job is to take care of the kids and the house.”

I was speechless. I mean, how the heck do you respond to something like that?  That is sort of how I feel now about the women in combat unit topic. It is irrelevant because we are so past that as a military.

Women make up nearly 20% of the Armed Service. We couldn’t fight or function without women in our ranks. We are so past the point of the whole “role of woman” that I’m going to drop it. But really dude?

WOW, I’m nearing 800 words for this post. All right, next time I’ll talk about the other hate notes and theories of why woman shouldn’t be in combat units—like women can’t handle the emotional stress of combat. Seriously there are people that believe this! Really?

So who still thinks that women’s motherly instincts will stop them from killing in combat?


Does anyone have any examples to share of good or bad experiences with women service members during enemy contact?

Part III of this series is at the link below:

Here are More Reasons Why Women Have no Place in Combat Units

Every wonder how an Iraqi veteran felt about our withdrawal? Here are my thoughts.

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An Air Force Handler and his Military Working Dog

Military Dog Pictures of the Week (March 28, 2012)

More pictures from my trip to the Inter-Service Advanced Skills K-9 (IASK) Course, YUMA Proving Grounds Arizona

An Air Force Handler and his Military Working Dog

 “Dude, put your tongue away. You’re embarrassing me.”

“Sorry, Dad, I’m just excited to go find things for you.”

An Air Force Handler and his Military Working Dog

 “Boy, I can’t wait until I get my Kong! I wonder if there is any peanut butter in it.”

Please check out the links below if you missed or want to revisit any of the past few weeks pictures of the week.

Military Dog Picture of the Week (March 21, 2012): Kong Euphoria!

The New A-Team hits the dirt roads of Afghanistan hunting for the Taliban

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Military Working Dog National Monument

Military Working Dog Teams National Monument

My wife Megan and I were honored this fall to attend a fundraiser in support of the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument.

What a great idea! A monument for our dog teams isn’t just an idea any longer.

Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina initiated Congressional legislation for a national monument for military working dogs, It passed the U.S. House and Senate and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 28, 2008. Raising the public funds needed to make it happen is now a critical objective.

“It is the first time in the U.S. military history that the U.S. Congress has elevated an animal, a dog, to national monument status by law, and the only National Monument featuring a current day dog handler.” John Burnam, President of JBMF.

At the fundraiser we had the honor of meeting a real American hero, MSG (Ret) John Burnam, author of Dog Tags of Courage and A Soldier’s Best Friend. John has also been featured in the History Channel’s War Dog special. He is a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran and tireless advocate of our Military Working Dog Teams. If you are interested in learning more about the monument check out the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument website or Facebook page.

Be sure to check out their bronze art work. You can order replicas of the monument.

Below is another cool photo I took of a dog team training for a deployment to Afghanistan. That pup looks excited to get to work! He looks like John’s dog Clipper from Vietnam.

Military Working Dog and Handler


Is America developing “Super Dogs” ?

Military Working dog runningFaster than a speeding bullet?

More powerful than a locomotive?

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

“Look! Dashing across the battlefield!”

“It’s a dog!”

“It’s a dog?”

“It’s a Super Dog!”

Yes, it’s a Superdog! The military does in fact have Superdogs!

In a prior post I mentioned that Cairo, the Osama Bin Laden Hunter, is a Multi Purpose Canine, or an MPC. (We love our acronyms in the military!)

Currently Multi Purpose Canines are unique to our Special Operation Forces. So what makes these canines different from mainstream military working dogs?

Well, that is like asking what makes the Special Operations community (unconventional) different from the mainstream military (conventional)!

Most traditional dogs in the military–and law enforcement for that matter–are dual purpose: patrol-trained and either drug- or explosive-trained. This means they are trained to attack and can find one of two substances, drugs or explosives. These canines are specialists in these disciplines.

What can a Multi Purpose Canine do?

Pretty much any discipline a military dog executes a MPC can handle and then some. Think of them as the special forces of dogs! These Multi Purpose Dogs are what we call in the “business” Superdogs.

I’ve been asked: Do “Superdogs” have a kryptonite? My answer: I’m pretty sure they have a weakness for milk bones!

So how many of these Super Dogs do we have in the military inventory, you ask?

Yeah, I’m not touching that one. Sorry!

So why doesn’t the military make all our dogs “Super Dogs”?

I can tackle that one, but not until next time. I’ve gotta go feed my “Super” Dogs!

Who thinks their dog could be a “Super Dog”?

Please share and tell us why.

How about those non “Super Dog” candidates…… why is your dog out of the running to become a “Super Dog”?

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Marine Military Working Dog handler recieves instruction from an Army Staff Sergeant

Millitary Dog Picture of the Week (March 21, 2012): Kong Euphoria!

A U.S. Marine Military Working Dog Handler receives a critique from a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant McCoy, an instructor at the Inter-Service Advanced Skills K-9 (IASK) Course, YUMA Proving Grounds Arizona. March 14, 2012.

A Military Working Dog and his Kong


A U.S. Air Force Military Working Dog enjoys his Kong after running a lane at “K9 village” at ISAK Course, Yuma Proving Grounds Arizona. K9 village is a mock village designed to test a Military Working Dog Team on their search capabilities. March 14, 2012

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Anax out front

The Struggle between MWD Anax & MWD Dark

This is Part III of The Marc and Anax series. You may wish to read Part II or skip right back to Part I first.

A working dog is only as good as his handler.  A handler is only as good as his dog.  You can have incompetent handlers and you can have a dog that just doesn’t get it.  Without the team…..a Military Working Dog team is useless.

Marc Whitttaker and Military Working Dog Anax were a highly effective working dog team because Marc had trained Anax properly.  Anax understood what to do and was good at his tasks and Marc could “read” Anax’s signals.  Marc and Anax are still a team but not a military working dog team.   Anax is sitting in the kennel waiting to be shipped to Marc’s home in Texas begrudgingly to live the retired life.

Life goes on and in the Army there is a mission to meet. Marc has been paired with a new dog, Military Working Dog Dark, who is a patrol narcotic detector dog (PNDD).  Though his heart still belongs to his son, the patrol explosive detector dog (PEDD), Anax who must now watch his dad, Marc, do all the things they once did together.

Military Working Dog Dark is a black and tan small framed german shepherd that has a very beta male personality. He is the total opposite of the dominant large german sheppard, alpha male, Anax.

Because of their differences in personality they are able to get along and socialize without any issues.  But they aren’t friends.  They both want the same thing, Marc’s attention.

Military Working Dog Dark has passed his first test with Marc…..he accepts that Anax is king.
How will Marc develop a bond with Military Working Dog Dark?

Why is this bond so important?

What happens to Anax? 


Click here for the next exciting chapter in this story! 

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Women Shouldn’t Be in Combat Units!

Women shouldn’t be in combat units! Only men are in combat units!

How many times have I heard this? Enough that I now just shake my head and chuckle.

That is why I put an ass-kicking female soldier in my novel, Paws on the Ground? Why is she “humping” on patrol with combat units?

News flash! Women make up 20% of our military and are all over combat zones. They are working side by side with historically all male combat units and are engaging the enemy on a daily basis. Woman just aren’t officially “assigned” to combat units. While the debate rages across the country, I guarantee you that on this very day there are female dog handlers leading infantry patrols in Afghanistan and I bet you they are doing a kick ass job.

Today’s combat is on an asymmetrical battlefield: the fight and dangers are all around you. There are no “front lines” when you are in Afghanistan.

If you have a moment check out this article written about my company in Baghdad in 2005. Three out of the five lieutenants in my company were woman. All are tremendous officers with six deployments, a purple heart, a bronze star with valor, and command of a company in combat among the three.

So who is Megan Jayburn from Paws on the Ground?

She’s your daughter, your sister, the girl next door. Just like them she could kick your ass! She’s an American soldier who is fighting in Afghanistan for your freedom.

Note: The photo above is Sergeant Zainah C. Creamer and her military working dog Jofa. Sergeant Creamer died of wounds sustained in a Taliban ambush in January of 2010 as she led an Army Infantry combat patrol with Jofa. Yes, I said she was leading an infantry patrol–a female Soldier and her dog. I will never forget this day. I received the notification at Headquarters, United States Forces – Afghanistan and knew immediately that she was the first female dog handler to be killed in action. It still chokes me up thinking about it. Jofa was not injured in the attack.

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Three MIlitary Working Dogs in an ATV

The New A-Team hits the dirt roads of Afghanistan hunting for the Taliban

Hi, everyone. This is the begining of the picture of the week column for the website. I’ll be posting pictures from the field and training of our four-legged heroes every Wednesday. This caption isn’t a real caption obviously, but I can’t resist!
If you are a handler send me your pictures at  with a caption and we’ll try to get you up on the site.

Oh, oh, oh: I’ve got another: “Those Taliban bastards hit the truck carrying our milkbones. Mount up,  fellas! Time to take matters into our own paws!”

Military working Dog Gabe in prison

Military Working Dog Gabe: The Street Dog

“That yellow lab over there has thirty days. If he isn’t adopted he will have to be euthanized.”

Labrador retriever Gabe pawed at the chain-linked fence with his tattered yellow paws. He looked up at the man who was standing over him and bellowed a thunderous series of defiant barks.

“Kill me? Are you crazy man? Just let me back outside to run the streets,” thought Gabe. “I wasn’t hurting anyone out there.”

He looked around at the other dogs locked up like he was and sighed. He was in the “big dog house” like a common criminal. They had taken his freedom and now they wanted to take his life?

Military Working Dog GabeHe cried out in pain and plopped himself down on the hard concrete floor. His low weight and dirty body didn’t hurt. His heart did. At first he didn’t understand why his family had abandoned him. Why was he forced to run the streets scavenging and begging for food? But eventually he accepted it and embraced the life of a street dog. Gabe was a survivor.

He was smarter than most and learned to survive quite well. He might have had to fight off coyotes and other stray dogs, but now it was even worse—he was a prisoner locked in the county animal shelter facing euthanization. It appeared that Gabe’s luck had run out.

He knew he shouldn’t have trusted that man in the uniform who offered him a treat. But he was hungry, wet and cold, and the man had seemed so kind. He licked his lips just thinking of that milk bone. He had a weakness for milk bones.

“Darn it, Gabe, you should have run as soon as you saw his white van with blue markings. You should have known he was a dog catcher,” he thought.

After an unknown time in the “clink” with Gabe getting closer and closer to being euthanized, he finally got a lucky break. Gabe was rescued by the Southeast Texas Labrador Retriever Rescue Organization.

For some reason his caretaker recognized something special in him. Gabe wasn’t sure if it was the fact that he had lots of energy, could run fast or possessed a strong nose.

What he didn’t know was that his caretaker saw the survival instincts in him, exactly the skill you need in a dog to deploy overseas with our troops and sniff out explosives! His caretaker sent him to the Army.

Gabe had never thought of himself as a soldier, but knew that many young Americans join the Service for a chance at a better life. He just never thought that this option was available to him. He knew this opportunity was a blessing and promised himself that he would “Be all that he could be” as a four-legged Soldier.  He trembled with excitement and dreamt of two square meals a day, a warm place to sleep and belly rubs and hugs from his future two-legged soldier friends.

Three weeks later Gabe was one of the two dogs paired with his handler, Army Staff Sergeant Chuck Shuck. Chuck and Gabe entered the brand new Specialized Search Dog Program at the Department of Defense Dog School at Lackland Airbase in Texas. They were joined by a second dog, a handsome German Shepherd named Doki. It is normal for a Specialized Search Dog candidate to enter the school with two dogs to see which dog works and bonds best for that handler. The handler is allowed to chose his dog at the end of training.

Chuck fell in love with Gabe and they developed a deep bond by the time school ended. But there was a small problem: Doki was a more effective explosive search dog than Gabe. Chuck knew he was heading to Iraq and would be employing his dog to find real explosives. He worried over the decision but in the end chose Doki over Gabe as his dog. Chuck would have to leave Gabe behind in Texas.

Gabe was heartbroken and went into a deep depression. He had blown his chance.Military Working Dog Gabe

“I’m just having trouble adjusting to the Army life.”

“Finding explosives is hard.”

“Doki is just better than me.”

A hundred excuses went through his mind, but he knew there was one last chance to prove himself. Chuck, Gabe and Doki were headed to the premier Explosive Detector Dog Team training facility in the country at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona.

On the plane to Yuma, Gabe promised himself that he wouldn’t let this opportunity slip through his paws. There would be to more excuses. He would channel the skills he learned running the streets into finding explosives.

A year after Gabe thought he was heading to euthanization he was on an airplane headed to Iraq with his best pal Chuck. Gabe had shocked everyone at Yuma and dominated the certifications trials. He received a perfect score on the certification, much to the elation of his best pal Chuck. Nothing got by Gabe.

He was now heading to Mosul, Iraq with Chuck to sniff out explosives and save soldiers lives! He was no longer Gabe the Street Dog. Now he was Gabe the United States Army Specialized Search Dog. Gabe was a survivor.

Who thinks their “Pound Puppy” would make a good explosive finding dog?

Please tell us why.

This is Part I of Chuck and Gabe, The Street Dog. Stay tuned for stories of their exploits in Iraq!

Part II  Gabe: Pound Puppy Turned Military Working Dog  is now published

Note: Gabe has his own Facebook page and you can friend this fantastic fella. Just click on his name above.

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