Photo: Geoffrey Ingersoll
Editor’s note: As Geoff went through hundreds of photos it was obvious so much had become normal to him that most readers would have no idea about. This was one of those photographs I asked him to explain and he elaborates below.
Afghan dogs are not like Iraqi dogs. Afghan dogs are not like any dogs I’ve ever seen.
Wadi dogs, what we called the Iraqi version (wadi is Arabic for ‘dry river bed’), just looked like normal feral dogs, possibly with a little mange. Afghan dogs on the other hand, especially in the rural farming areas, these beasts look like they could be broken and saddled, like harrier, smaller versions of a pony, but with fangs.
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t shoot dogs. We shot dogs. It was either shoot the dogs or let them expose our positions. There were roving packs of them, belonging to no one in particular (these people don’t neuter dogs), and they’d bark, good lord would they bark.
If I had to choose between shooting a dog and not going home, well, I choose to go home.
Dogs have been employed and killed in wars for thousands of years, that’s a fact, but less known is that Marines have had to resort to throwing rocks at them.
I was on patrol in Afghanistan, embedded as a journalist with Marines, and suddenly all them are throwing rocks. Marines, armed with weapons, are throwing rocks.
Of course I’m like, “What gives?”
I heard the Afghan dog barking and growling, and knew it was in part due to the Marines themselves, but it was mostly because of the canine Marine we had with us: a certified bomb sniffer.
Marines tasked with maintaining the dog in combat were under orders to shoot any dog that aggressively approached their fellow four-legged friend.
Rather than shoot the dog, which no Marines (in my experience) ever actually liked to do, they’d start hurling rocks at it. It was the best resort these military members, armed as they were, had to defend against Afghan dogs.
Oddly, even if their main mission is to hunt and kill humans, Marines would prefer not to turn their guns on a canine.
So each throw was itself an acknowledgment of the pact, that ages old existential truce between man and his best friend.
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