The Rocket Dog of U.S. Special Forces
SOCOM's sample pitch is ... bizarre
America’s Special Operations Command will hold a conference in October and it recently put out the call for white papers. SOCOM is looking for cool future tech such as silenced engines, lightweight ammunition magazines and better suppressors.
But SOCOM’s sample white paper — which is to help businesses get their paperwork right — features a humorous plan to weaponize dogs … with rockets.
To be clear, this isn’t a real project. Think of this as the military equivalent of a college professor handing out an essay to a new class so the students know how to format their homework properly.
Which is how we got the Dual-Mode Augmented Canine Transport System (.pdf) — Project DUCTS.
Special Operations Forces require K9 transport capabilities for use in urban, austere and underwater locations. … The inefficiencies of the current K9 transport systems are proportional to the supply rate of gaseous Helium (HELIUM) used to power them. The problem — or burden — is that the HELIUM needed is supplied from a pressurized tank.
According to this fictitious white paper — SOCOM needs dogs in the field, and when it needs them fast it deploys them with helium tanks. But there are problems.
The presence of the compressed-HELIUM tank presents an added risk under combat conditions, not only to the K9 unit, but also to team members nearby. Since SOF members often conduct operations in hostile environments, a directed or stray projectile impacting the HELIUM tank could result in a catastrophic rupture that could seriously annoy the user and surrounding personnel.
A projectile hit to the supply line from the tank to the pack during airborne transport operations could result in a sudden loss of altitude. In addition to this safety risk, the user must bear the burden of the tank’s weight and bulk pre transport initiation, along with mission essential equipment.
The rest of the example white paper details a plot by a company called “Tallis National Laboratories” to strap rockets to dogs as a more effective means of deployment on the battlefield.
Which actually isn’t that crazy. Armies have long used dogs in combat. There’s even a long history of militaries attempting to strap explosives to dogs.
The Soviet Union attempted to train dogs carrying explosives to run under tanks during World War II. The United States tested a similar scheme at the same time, but never deployed the canines. Iraqi insurgents tried dog bombs.
It never worked out well.
SOCOM’s rocket dog is a little different. It’s not about blowing up a target but quickly deploying the fuzzy little guys as quickly as possible. SOCOM did, in fact, publish this white paper. It’s also — and I can’t stress this enough — completely fictitious.
It’s good to know that the American military still has a sense of humor, especially from its commandos. The white paper is so ridiculous that no one would take it seriously. Not even the people who took photos of the dogs …
But a reverse Google image search of the rocket dog reveals it to be a promotional image from G.W. Little — an online retailer specializing in treats, leashes and costumes for smaller dogs. I reached out to them to see how it felt to be part of the rocket dog white paper.
“Glad the U.S. military can find humor when it comes to creating weapons that kill people, and in this case canines, too,” a company spokesperson replied in an e-mail. (Yes, really.)
“They should also be aware that our images are copyright protected and if they win a lucrative defense contract that G.W. Little will be part of the billions awarded so we can relocate to the beltway. The Rocket Dog concept should really be highly classified.”
SOCOM did not respond to my request for comment.