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His name is Tank, and the U.S. soldiers have no idea where he came from, nor do they care. All they know is that he’s one heck of a scout here in eastern Afghanistan.

Sure, he’s got the standard allotments of unconditional love, dogged loyalty (he is, after all, a dog), and infinite patience. He gives those to the grunts in spades.

All the enemy sees is the feral beast within.

“We’ll be at an observation point, and Tank’ll hang out with us. Every once in a while, he’ll run around the perimeter sniffing and marking his territory. Any time we go on patrol, he’s with us,” said one 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldier from Task Force Rock. “If he hears anything, he’ll just keep barking. He hates the [enemy].”

It’s tough to tell how old Tank is, with his lopped-off ears and wheezy breathing. Put him next to a team of infantrymen, and it’s anyone’s guess who’s dirtier. His bark-box still works, though — so much so that one company commander told his troops to either have Tank removed from the base or he would “be removed.”

The men got him out on a convoy the next day. Three days later, he showed back up, having walked for miles in the summer heat. As soon as he made it, the soldiers said he fell over from exhaustion.

One paratrooper had given him an unopened water bottle; Tank still managed to get a drink, happy to be with young soldiers who treat him as one of their own.

“Magic Man II”A platoon who will remain nameless for security reasons is using magic to try to flush out enemy activity in the eastern Afghanistan mountains near a small base occupied by 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers.

Part radio equipment, part oscillating fan, “Magic Man II” is also all bunk.

Set up to look like communication equipment, the decoy will eventually sit on a hillside across the valley from the troops, smack in the middle of an enemy hornet’s nest.

A far fancier version than his predecessor, Magic Man II will come with a host of improvements to make him look more like a real piece of equipment.

Magic Man I wasn’t very successful, one specialist said. “We had some kids come and start to play with it. We had to fire a warning shot to scare them away.”

The troops hope No. 2 will produce better results. With the amount of danger the platoon is in, they need all the help — magical or otherwise — that they can get.


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