A NATO spokesman confirmed Thursday that a military working dog went missing in Afghanistan in December, lending some credence to a Taliban claim that it had captured a NATO dog and weapons just before Christmas.
“We can confirm that a military working dog went missing following an ISAF mission in December, 2013,” Army Lt. Col. Will Griffin wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. “It is ISAF policy to defer identification to the appropriate national authorities.”
A purported Taliban video that surfaced this week features five bearded men and one very nervous-looking dog outfitted with a fancy harness similar to those worn by canines that accompany U.S. Special Forces.
Griffin said he cannot confirm the video’s authenticity.
It’s impossible to tell from the tape whether the scared animal is an actual military working dog or just made up to look like one, though the video goes on to provide more evidence to back the Taliban’s claims.
The video’s star, a man in a shalwar khameez, shows off what looks to be a broken U.S. military assault rifle, possibly an M4 or M14, and a tricked-out M4 with some high-tech sights and other gear, all of which point to — but do not prove — U.S. origins. He also pulls out some grenades that look like the standard M67 models carried by American ground pounders.
Interestingly, both of the assault rifles look to be fitted with suppressors, devices that reduce the noise and flash of firing. Those devices aren’t common among conventional forces, but are used by some American Special Forces and snipers.
According to the Taliban, they captured the dog and weapons when NATO forces attacked their compound in Alingar district in late December 2013. A Dec. 23 news release from the Taliban noted that they had capture weapons, but there was no mention of a dog until an updated version of the release was posted with the video.