Leadership: The Despised Dogs of Baghdad

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December 25, 2011: U.S. troops left hundreds of bomb sniffing dogs behind when they departed from Iraq this year. Despite the success of the dogs in sniffing out bombs, many Iraqi security personnel still prefer to use a British bomb detection device that was revealed to be a fraud two years ago. Why are Iraqi police still using a bomb detector known to be a scam (it simply does not work.) In early 2010 the Iraqi government agreed to investigate the purchase of $85 million worth of ADE 651 explosives detectors. Iraqi officials bought thousands of these hand held devices in 2009, for up to $60,000 each. But the British manufacturer is being prosecuted in Britain for fraud, when it was discovered there that the ADE 651 was a fraud. The device contains useless components, and repeated tests showed that it could not detect anything. Apparently a large chunk of the money Iraq paid for the ADE 651 was kicked back to the Iraqi officials who approved the sale. Earlier this year, an Iraqi general was arrested for taking bribes to approve the purchase of this device. The ADE 651 is very cheap to make, and the manufacturer made a huge profit even after paying large bribes.

It's not just bribes and gadget lust that keep the Iraqis from using the bomb sniffing dogs. In most Moslem countries, dogs are considered "unclean". But while this discourages keeping dogs as pets, they are allowed as working animals (for herding, security and hunting). Many Iraqi police recognize that the American bomb sniffing dogs are the most accurate way to discover explosives in a vehicle. Even under Saddam, there was a military dog service established in the 1970s. But Iraqi aversion to dogs prevented the police dogs from becoming widely used. But now the Iraqi police are acquiring and training hundreds of bomb sniffing dogs. All they need to do now is to persuade Iraqi policemen to use the animals.

 

 


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