Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON – The war between animal activists and the Pentagon has raged for decades. You could say there's been a fair amount of collateral damage: thousands of goats and pigs have been mutilated, although the military argues the animals have not died in vain.
So it's no surprise the animal rights camp is salivating over the blow it's about to inflict on the enemy. This week, by order of Congress, the Pentagon must present lawmakers with a written plan to phase out "live tissue training," military-speak for slaying animals to teach combat medics how to treat severed limbs and gunshot wounds.
The demand, tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, marks the first time Congress has ordered the Pentagon to provide a detailed plan to start relying less on animals and more on simulators. The military must also specify whether removing animals from training sessions could lead to a "reduction in the competency of combat medical personnel."
The military's use of animals for medical training dates back to the Vietnam war, but it drew relatively little scrutiny until the summer of 1983, when activists caught wind of a training exercise planned at a facility in Bethesda, Md. The plan to shoot dozens of anesthetized dogs strung on nylon mesh slings in an indoor, soundproof firing range enraged animal activists and some lawmakers.
Dog lovers took their rage to the home of then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who issued a statement saying he had "directed that no dogs be shot for medical experimentation or training." But to the consternation of animal activists, Weinberger did nothing to spare goats.