first published on August 30, 2018 by Josh
In April of 2012, members of the Taliban conducted a large scale offensive operation in three major Afghan cities. In Kabul, a number of Taliban attackers took up residence in a building across the street from the Afghan Parliament and began engaging with Afghan National Security Forces in the area. Using rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades, and a myriad of small arms weapon system, the attackers rooted themselves into a defensive position and waged an all out gun battle that would ultimately require members of a British Special Operations team to intervene and end the raging gun battle that was bringing the city of Kabul to its knees.
Unable to utilize air support due to the enemy’s close proximity to civilians, and structures sheltering innocents in the vicinity, troops were forced to enter the building and clear it floor by floor. Sixteen Taliban fighters were inside of the building with a stockpile of explosives, booby traps, and ammunition to keep the fight raging. The Taliban fighters, who were later confirmed as Pakistani foreign fighters after a suicide bomber was detained in Jalalabad, were well trained and dug into their positions like ticks ready to fight until the death.
Members of a nearby British SBS team were required to make entry into the building in order to clear it floor by floor. Accompanying them was their working dog, a Belgian Malinois named Mali trained to search for and locate explosive ordinance. Throughout the near 8-hour-long operation, Mali was used to not only locate explosive devices and prevent his team from entering into dangerous areas of the building, but also to locate enemy fighters, giving his team the needed time and ability to react in close quarters battle with the enemy.
Mali, who was wounded by three separate enemy grenade blasts during the running close quarters gun fight, was utilized for the duration of the operation in order to better provide his team with information about the area they were fighting in. He was sent through direct enemy fire twice, and even hoisted up the side of the building with his handler in order to assist the teams inside with establishing footholds for further advancement through the enemy and booby trap infested building.
At the conclusion of the deployment, the dog was awarded the equivalent of the Victoria Cross for working animals, called the Dickin Medal. The Dicken Medal was established in 1943 by Maria Dickin and the PDSA for animals who served with extreme gallantry during the second World War. The ribbon of the medal is striped green, dark brown, and pale blue and attached to a small medallion ringed with a laurel wreath that reads “For Gallantry,” and “We serve too.” Mali’s handler during the operation, who remains anonymous for security reasons, also received awards for gallantry and heroism during the same operation.