The Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Ft. Leonard Wood honors fallen dog, Tygo

By Rebecca Frankel

Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

On November 10, Tygo, a Specialized Search Dog on deployment in Afghanistan, was killed by an IED. On December 4, Fort Leonard Wood kennels held a memorial service for their fallen comrade that included "a ceremonial rifle volley and the playing of taps," as well as the customary sharing of memories to honor the dog's service.

Though his career was cut short, Tygo had a solid reputation for detection work. Earlier this year, he and his handler, Spc. Seth Rodenberger, won first and second place for endurance and explosive detection challenges during the 2012 Hawaiian Islands Working Dog Competition.

Tygo was known for his laid back temperament and was a dog who, according to a base press release, possessed a "fierce tenacity for detection" and was "always steadfast and ready." Even during Tygo's brief three months of his deployment, the four-year-old Irish setter earned a formidable reputation among the Special Operations teams.

In his closing remarks at the Specker Chapel service at Fort Leonard Wood, Rodenberger (who seems not to have been injured in the attack that killed Tygo) thanked his former partner for "keeping the team and especially me out of harm's way. You're my battle buddy, my friend and my hero."

As one other sergeant remarked while they will all miss Tygo, "his loss will only make us more determined to succeed in our mission."

Tygo's recent death is hopefully the last in a year that has claimed a relatively high number of lives from the MWD community -- both canine and handler. As we near the close of 2012, it's perhaps a sad ending note but I think one worth dwelling on, especially considering the pointed remarks of Engineer Canine Company Commander Capt. Patrick McLain, who eulogized Tygo on December 4.

When it was McLain's turn to speak, he talked first of Tygo's role in keeping soldiers working outside the wire safe. But then he asked those gathered to view the dog's death not only as a tragic loss but also "as a very hard and sad reminder that the Engineer Canine Company currently has 43 soldiers in harms way." Of those 43, McLain continued, 18 are in combat arms. Those "military working dogs [and their handlers] have the most dangerous job that the military has to offer," he said. And that job is "finding casualty producing devices that cause so much damage in today's operational environment."

The Best Defense

Wanna see what the fuss about my book is about? Check out C-Span tomorrow AM

Here is your big chance: Skip the Saturday morning cartoons and instead watch a discussion of the book on Dec. 15 at 8 am. Or, if you can't wait, they very nicely give you the option to watch it on your computer right now.

Armed Forces Journal also ran a thoughtful review by Joseph Collins. The heart of the matter:

Ricks' book is an important study on command and accountability in wartime. It is also a précis of much of American military history over the past 70 years. It will make many officers uncomfortable and some generals squirm. Its arguments can be disputed; they cannot be ignored.

Accountability is critical; we must do better. . . . As senior officers go to school to study military history and modern generalship, they would be well advised to read this important book. Ricks will make them uncomfortable. They will curse his excellent pen, his often irreverent tone and his biting commentary. But Ricks has something to teach the next generation of general officers, if they will let him.

Tom again: The New Yorker also had an article by Dexter Filkins that was kind of an obituary for the military career of General Petreaus and also got into discussing my book a bit.

Still can't get enough? OK. Here's the transcript of my recent discussion with Neal Conan on Talk of the Nation.

Meanwhile, let me know if the comments system is still messing you around. I will forward to the powers that be. Apparently it is in their contracts to screw up the comments system every few months.