Obama visit: American 'canine officers' arrive in India

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New Delhi, Jan 22: A special squad of American 'canine officers' have reached Delhi in order to sanitise and conduct anti-sabotage checks at some of the prime venues which will be visited by US President Barack Obama during his forthcoming visit to India.

Sources said an elite team of seven Belgian 'Malinois' dogs, who shot to international fame after they assisted the US Navy SEALS in sniffing out Osama Bin Laden from his safe haven in Pakistan few years back, have been flown down and have been initially deployed to secure the retreat for Obama's visit--ITC Maurya-- along with a dozen canines of the ITBP.

Representational image

Officials familiar with the canines' operation said both the dog squads have been pressed in to "sanitise and secure" the five-star facility and have been tasked with sniffing out different flanks of the hotel for the coming few days after which an another batch of these four-legged soldiers will be pressed for similar duties at Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan and few other locations.

"The first batch of about seven US Navy SEALS dogs have arrived here. They have been tasked to work in coordination with a chosen squad of Labradors and German Shepherds of the ITBP. The US has given them military ranks and call them canine officers," they said.

They said joint security teams of US and Indian sleuths decided to deploy the combination of these two units so that "nothing is left to chance."

"The ITBP dogs are trained to perform in Indian conditions. They will complement the work of the American dog squad. Another batch of the US dogs team is expected to come later," they said.

The ITBP, a border guarding force under the Union Home Ministry and a centre for excellence in police and military canine subjects, has already pooled in a 30-dogs squad for the entire visit of the US President, who is arriving for a three-day visit to the country as the chief guest of this years Republic Day parade on January 26.

The Belgian 'Malinois', a litter of an Israeli male Malinois crossed with an American bitch, is one of the most tough and sturdy dog breeds which are used by a majority of military forces world over including by Indian paramilitary forces in the anti-Naxal operations domain.

The dog, which has a heavy snout and a big head, can detect suspect human presence, explosives and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) with a precise correctness and it is intelligent enough to communicate these signals through a nod of his head and not by barking, which could lead to alerting of the target.

The ITBP 'K9' squad has been given the most important tasks to perform for this high-profile visit and they will be performing their task in the inner ring along with sniffer dogs of other agencies like the Delhi Police, NSG, CISF and CRPF.

A handful of ITBP dogs have been kept as reserve for emergency anti-sabotage sniffing tasks.

PTI 

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