The Best Defense

Rebecca’s war dog of the week: a spoiled stray in Zerok

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

This week's photo features Sgt. Rick Atkinson tousling with a puppy taken in by the soldiers of Forward Operating Base Zerok in Afghanistan taken last October.

I was in touch with the photographer who shot the image, Chris Hondros, and he remembers this puppy and her caretakers well. She was a stray the soldiers picked up while on patrol and hosted in the COP. They said she was near death when they found her, bony and emaciated.

The affection on display in this photo is plain to see. When I asked how this pup faired in her new home, Hondros said:

Very well, of course. The soldiers totally spoiled her, far in excess of what that puppy could expect from native Afghans, who tend to disdain dogs. Say what you want about the war in Afghanistan from the human perspective, but I can assure you that the Afghanistan dog community is totally pro-American. Maybe they're having a peace jirga themselves, at some kennel in Kandahar.

In war-dog news this week, a group in Los Angeles hosted a Pack-for-Paws party inviting folks to come in and build specially tailored care packages to send over to war dogs and their handlers in Afghanistan -- a wonderful event and hopefully one that inspire others like it...

Do you have a story about a dog you knew in a combat zone? Please send it in, along with a photo if you have one.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The Best Defense

BD comment of the day: Yep, my buddies are turning down battalion command

In response to my request yesterday (in the Dubik item about cracks in the Army) for more information on declination of command, I got this note from a smart officer I knew in Iraq:

I don't have any hard stats for you, but at least 4 relatively close friends of mine have declined battalion command. I believe all were due to the cumulative and anticipated stress on their families. Most officers I know seem willing to do two or three tours; but somewhere at two years or more deployed, the pressure from being a non-participant in family life leads to some very hard choices between duty to the nation and duty to the family. Not that it is necessarily our job, but it's not easy to run the world with 10 Army divisions and the Marine Corps.

Tom: This is of more than just passing interest. There is more than one way to break a military. That is, it won't just be like the post-Vietnam era, with indiscipline in the ranks and disgusted NCOs punching out early. Instead, it might be things like wives insisting that their field grade husbands leave -- or, in this case, lieutenant colonels turning down battalion command. I would love to see some numbers on this trend.  

The Cleveland Kid/flickr