Military Tells Forces: Use Low-Tech Animals
They may be the most elite fighting forces in the U.S. military, parachuting in to defeat the most intractable enemy using the most high-tech weaponry.
But a previously unreleased Army field manual made public today says the U.S. Special Forces should remember that there are some low-tech options that may be equally effective.
Options such as the lowly pack animal.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, one of whose missions is to get America's secrets declassified, a June 2004 field manual titled Special Forces Use of Pack Animals says that in "rural or remote environments," pack animals such as donkeys, horses, and mules could be invaluable for conducting dangerous missions "in high mountain terrain, deserts, and dense jungle terrain."
According to the FAS report, the 225-page field manual says its goal is to pass on to the Special Forces "some of the expertise and techniques that have been lost in the United States Army over the last 50 years."
Some tips from the manual: "Mules are intelligent and possess a strong sense of self-preservation. A packer cannot make a mule do something if the mule thinks it will get hurt, no matter how much persuasion is used ... many people confuse this trait with stubbornness." And "elephants are considered an endangered species and as such should not be used by U.S. military personnel. ... Elephants are not the easygoing, kind, loving creatures that people believe them to be. They are, of course, not evil either."
The FAS report issued today says the field manual has not been approved for public release but was obtained by Secrecy News.