Dogs are now 'special combatants' for China's military

BEIJING (China Daily/Asia News Network) - Dogs will be used by China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) for combat and anti-terrorist operations and riot control, under a new regulation which calls a trained canines "a special combatant and an irreplaceable military resource".

The move "will supplement the PLA's combat capability significantly, as dogs are much more agile and responsive than human soldiers," China Daily quoted Zou Xingkui, a senior captain and commander of the main PLA navy dog training base in the northern Hebei province, as saying in a report on Friday.

"The regulation encourages combat units to deploy military dogs. Such dogs have been employed extensively by combat troops in the United States armed forces," Zou noted.

PLA Daily, the military newspaper, quoted an unnamed officer at the PLA General Staff Headquarters who oversees military dogs as saying that the new regulation means the military will use them for a wider range of missions, including combat operations.

The PLA set up its first military dog training base in 1949 in Beijing. Trained dogs are currently used for guard duties, patrols and search-and-rescue missions.

They are stationed mainly at military airports, naval ports, missile bases, ammunition warehouses and border inspection stations.

PLA Daily said the regulation also covers breeding, feeding and epidemic prevention for military dogs, improved management of the animals and their retirement from service.

The PLA marine corps is expected to be the first combat force in the navy to use dogs for combat duties, Zou said.

"Dogs trained at my base have been sent to numerous units of the navy, including marine garrisons on islands and reefs in the South China Sea," he said.

Before the regulation was issued, several PLA combat units had used dogs in battlefield training.

A dog training regiment under the Nanjing Military Command has trained dogs to clear mines, help with detonation tasks and to carry out reconnaissance missions, PLA Daily reported.