Live snakes and attack dogs for US Defence Secretary's send-off

Soldiers from the Indonesian Special Forces putting on a performance for visiting US Defence Secretary James Mattis. During the show, they killed live snakes, including cobras, and served the blood to each other in a sign of brotherhood. The soldiers
Soldiers from the Indonesian Special Forces putting on a performance for visiting US Defence Secretary James Mattis. During the show, they killed live snakes, including cobras, and served the blood to each other in a sign of brotherhood. The soldiers also staged a mock terrorist manhunt and martial arts display.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JAKARTA • A soldier tore apart a snake with his bare teeth and his comrades headbutted flaming stacks of bricks as Indonesian special forces soldiers treated visiting US Defence Secretary James Mattis to an unusual performance yesterday.

Mr Mattis - whose own nickname is "Mad Dog" - seemed impressed by the show, which also saw police dogs leaping from helicopters to attack several people during a simulated terrorist crackdown.

To the sound of beating drums and with their faces daubed with camouflage paint, the elite soldiers also launched a wild martial arts display as they demolished wood and brick obstacles with kicks, punches and headbutts.

The United States delegation looked on as the men then killed live snakes, including cobras, and served their blood to each other in a sign of brotherhood.

One soldier even tore apart a snake with his teeth.

Nearby, a commando rolled around on broken glass while another shot several times at a balloon that was being held by his blindfolded comrade.

One shot missed the target. However, no one was injured.

An aerial display - with the theme music from the Mission Impossible movie playing - saw soldiers launch themselves from helicopters with dogs to stage a simulated manhunt for a pair of "terrorists".

A dog then jumped through an open car window to grab one of the mock terror suspects.

"As you can see, the dogs beat the terrorist," a military official said after the show, which was held at Indonesia's army headquarters.

Mr Mattis said: "Even the dogs coming out of those helicopters knew what to do when confronting the terrorists."

Speaking to reporters before heading to Vietnam for a two-day visit, Mr Mattis praised Hanoi for adhering to sanctions against North Korea.

He added that Vietnam had showed leadership on the issue despite the costs associated with lost trade.

"I have to pay my respects there, and thank them for their support on the (North Korea) issue. They have been supporting the United Nations sanctions, at some cost to them," Mr Mattis said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2018, with the headline 'Live snakes and attack dogs for US Defence Secretary's send-off'. Print Edition | Subscribe