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INITIAL BROADCAST: 24 November 1991
© Copyright 1991, Center for Defense Information.
All Rights Reserved.
HOST: Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque (USN, Ret.),
Director, Center for Defense Information
Sanford Gottlieb, Senior Producer,
PRODUCERS: Matthew Hansen, Lori McRea, Nick Moore, Daniel Sagalyn
Martin Calhoun
ORIGINATION: Washington, D.C. PROGRAM NO.: 510
Videotapes also available.
Features commentary from:
DONALD BROOKS: National Anti-Vivisection Society,
Former Air Force Researcher
RIC O'BARRY, Director, The Dolphin Project,
Former Head Trainer of "Flipper" for TV show
LAURIE RAYMOND, Dolphin Campaign Coordinator, Progressive Animal Welfare Society
NARRATOR: Without elephants like this one, Hannibal might never have crossed the Alps. Without horses, Custer might have missed his "last stand." Without camels, Lawrence of Arabia might have been just another guy named Larry.
For as long as there have been wars, animals both large and small have been drafted into military service. From the time-honored and traditional to the bizarre and controversial, humans have found a variety of uses for animals in the service of the military.
["AMERICA'S DEFENSE MONITOR" program introduction.]

Admiral GENE LaROCQUE: Welcome once again to "AMERICA'S DEFENSE MONITOR."
Since the beginning of recorded history, men have been waging war, nations have been waging war, and using in those wars various animals to help the enterprise. The animals themselves, if left to their own devices, are too clever to fight in a war. But even today, as we have more technological devices, it surprises me and it may surprise you to find how many uses animals are put to these days in preparing for and in fighting in war.

NARRATOR: Historically, probably no animal has had a greater impact on warfare than the horse. Riding ancestors of this horse, Genghis Khan and his Mongol horde swept through most of Asia. For centuries after horses first carried soldiers into battle, cavalry dominated infantry. Today, however, in the age of fast-moving tanks and high mobility vehicles, the only action many military horses see is at funerals and parades.
"Man's best friend" has also been called upon to do much more than "fetch the slippers." From sniffing for drugs and explosives to attacking on command with as much as 700 pounds of jaw pressure per square inch. In Vietnam, American forces used dogs for scouting, tracking, sentry duty, flushing out the enemy and detecting mines and booby traps.

From "MILITARY WORKING DOGS" (Department of Defense):
Dog Handler: "Halt, who's there. Halt! Halt!"
"Get him, dog! Get him!"
"Attaboy. Hold him! Hold him!"

NARRATOR: Today, the Army is still looking for "a few good dogs" to fill the ranks of its K-9 Corps.

From same film: "Put your hands over your head. Keep your legs spread out. I'm going to come up and search you. Do not move or attempt to run. My dog will attack without command.

NARRATOR: Before there were combat radios, communication between the front lines and the rear often depended on a carrier pigeon's wings and a prayer.

From U.S. Army film "PVT. PIGEON": "Constant reconnaissance of shifting enemy positions is vital in today's swift-moving warfare of position. But reconnaissance activities are useful only when reported. Sometimes radios cannot be carried. Sometimes they can't be used because they giveaway positions to the enemy.
"It's then that Private Pigeon becomes valuable. Off into the skies. The worse weather will seldom stop the pigeon's straight, swift flight to his loft."

NARRATOR: During the Second World War, the US Army Air Corps contemplated unleashing a weapon on Japan the likes of which had never been seen before.
Not, not this weapon, but this one: Bats, thousands of them, each attached to an incendiary bomb.
Had the United States released these kamikaze bats, they would easily have ranked among the most bizarre weapons ever. Still, the competition would be stiff.

[Film clip from television show "Flipper." Then a clip from US Navy promotional video.]

NARRATOR: These are what the Pentagon refers to as "advanced biological weapons systems." They are part of the US Navy's marine mammal program.

From Navy Promotional Video: "For more than a quarter century, Navy scientists and trainers have been learning from marine mammals, building a strong foundation of knowledge about these masters of the sea. One Navy program involves these likeable animals as undersea assistants."

NARRATOR: The Navy studies and trains over a hundred dolphins, sea lions and beluga whales at underwater laboratories in San Diego, Key West and Hawaii. Of particular interest to the military is the dolphin.

RIC O'BARRY: The dolphin sonar is extremely sophisticated. It makes the human, manmade sonar look like a toy.

NARRATOR: While enlisted in the US Navy, Ric O'Barry received a commendation for his underwater work. Later, he became known for his work as head trainer of the animal television star "Flipper." More recently, O'Barry has been recognized for his outspoken opposition to keeping dolphins in captivity as president and director of the Florida-based Dolphin Project. He is also the author of Behind the Dolphin Smile.

Mr. O'BARRY: You could get a Russian ship and put everybody in American clothing, uniforms and put an American flag there and paint it just like an American ship and you could fool everybody, but you couldn't fool the dolphins because they know that steel was made in Russia. They can tell the density of metals and they can hit the alarm. And so, that makes them very valuable to the military.

NARRATOR: The capture of dolphins is restricted by the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. However, under a special exemption, the Navy is permitted to capture up to 25 dolphins a year for national defense purposes. The Navy claims that it takes care to see that no harm comes to its dolphin draftees.

From "MARINE MAMMALS: NAVY UNDERSEA PARTNERS" (a US Navy promotional video): "Each animal has a tremendous investment in both time and money, which is really what we're protecting. We want to protect that investment and keep the animals healthy, happy and free of disease."

NARRATOR: On at least two occasions since the marine mammal program began, the Navy has used dolphins in combat situations, reportedly for surveillance and mine detection. First in 1971 during the Vietnam War, then again in 1987 during tanker escort operations in the Persian Gulf. One of six dolphins deployed to the Persian Gulf died, the Navy reported, when it developed a bacterial infection.
Until 1991, the Navy had planned to deploy dolphins to protect Trident submarines from possible enemy sabotage while docked at their home ports. However, a coalition of environmental and animal rights groups sued the Navy for failing to address the potential impact of the plan on the dolphins. In a 1988 trial run, a Navy dolphin lost 21 pounds and died, apparently from stress-related heart failure, eleven days after it was moved to the colder waters of Washington State's Puget Sound from Hawaii.
Laurie Raymond is Dolphin Campaign Coordinator with the Progressive Animal WelfareSociety, which led the opposition to deploying dolphins in Puget Sound.

LAURIE RAYMOND: A lot of our scientific advisers indicated that they wouldn't have survived the transition there. In fact, Seattle and Vancouver and Tacoma zoos and aquariums have never been able to keep Atlantic bottle-nose dolphins in their collections because they don't survive.

NARRATOR: According to Ric O'Barry, even if they adjusted to their new environment, the dolphins, to mix a metaphor, might become "paper tigers" when confronted with any saboteur familiar with the species' behavior.

Mr. O'BARRY: I could swim right through their system and get to these submarines.

INTERVIEWER: How would you do that?

Mr. O'BARRY: Well, there's probably a hundred ways to do that. For example, one could take a fire extinguisher under water and, if the dolphin had never been trained to accept this foreign fire extinguisher, they would panic and just flee.

INTERVIEWER: Just at the sight of it?

Mr. O'BARRY: No. Well, setting it off. Or a hammer and a bell, many different things. They have to get used to every single thing. Just a diver underwater with a tank of air, for example, the first time they're exposed to that, they're afraid of it.

NARRATOR: O'Barry believes that entrusting serious military responsibilities to dolphins is not only a bad idea, but a dangerous one. Dangerous not just for the dolphins, but also for people.

Mr. O'BARRY: Dolphins are not dependable. You only have control over them while they're hungry. They're controlled by hunger. And once they are fed, you don't have control anymore. That's the real danger.
If we were going to use lions and tigers to guard the Army base, that would seem so bizarre to people and unacceptable they would stop it immediately. They would write letters to the president and say "Stop this!" Well, if you think about it, using dolphins to guard the Trident nuclear submarine fleet is no different really.

NARRATOR: Like their human handlers, dolphins can be expected to make mistakes, sometimes with grave consequences.

Ms. RAYMOND: There was a reported incident in Havana Harbor in, I believe, 1963, when a dolphin was supposed to have attached a device to a Russian ship and, in fact, it returned to its own ship with the device still on and blew up its own transport.

NARRATOR: In January 1991, under mounting legal pressure, the Navy cancelled the dolphin submarine guard program citing budget concerns. However, other Navy work with marine mammals continues.
Ric O'Barry believes some of this work is aimed at training dolphins to kill enemy divers.

Mr. O'BARRY: There's some talk about a "swimmer nullification system," and -- You can see the training of this in Key West; it's very hard for them to hide that.

INTERVIEWER: But that's a pretty nice euphemism. That means killing people?

Mr. O'BARRY: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: And do you think that dolphins are being trained to kill people?

Mr. O'BARRY: I think so, yes. In the sixties, the "swimmer nullification system," as I understand it, involved an injection system of CO-2. It sends a blast of CO-2 into the body cavity and will literally shove your insides out your mouth and your rectum.

NARRATOR: Additional details about the Navy's marine mammal program were alleged by former Navy trainers who went public with stories of overzealous training and mishandling of animals. Among them was a dolphin trainer who worked in the program from 1984 to 1989.

Ms. RAYMOND: He reported incidents of abuse that he had witnessed over the years working for SEACO, which is the sub-contracting training outfit for the Navy, where animals were starved, kicked, hit with bucket lids, put in a pen where they could see other animals being fed and not being fed themselves.

NARRATOR: The Navy denies that its trainers mistreat animals.

From "MARINE MAMMALS: NAVY UNDERSEA PARTNERS": "Navy trainers use food reward to train all of our marine mammals. No punishment is used. In fact, it's Navy policy that we carry on no experiments that are harmful to the animals."

NARRATOR: The Federal Marine Mammal Commission appointed a review team to investigate the allegations of abuse. In February 1989 it released its findings, which for the most part awarded the Navy a clean bill of health. The review team "found the allegations to be substantively lacking."
The Navy, meanwhile, maintains that its "undersea partners" live long and comfortable lives.

From "MARINE MAMMALS: NAVY UNDERSEA PARTNERS": "These undersea partners get the best of care, a proper diet and excellent medical attention from Navy veterinarians. As a result, their life expectancy is longer than would be the case if they were in the wild."

NARRATOR: Nevertheless, the Navy has a long way to go before it persuades Ric O'Barry that America's dolphin draftees are anywhere near as happy as the Navy would have us believe.

Mr. O'BARRY: All of these Navy dolphins spend their life in a 24 by 24-foot space. We're talking about an eight-foot dolphin, perhaps. It can go three times its body length and its world ends. That's abusive, even if they don't do anything with them. Just to have them in that space is abusive.

NARRATOR: "AMERICA'S DEFENSE MONITOR" wanted to talk with the Navy. It is the Navy's policy, however, not to discuss specific details of its marine mammal program other than to say that it uses its animals in underwater surveillance and to locate, mark and retrieve objects.
The dictionary defines "guinea pig" as "a short-eared, tailless rodent." But it is the other definition of "guinea pig," "The subject of any sort of experiment," to which we now turn our attention.
Over the years, as human beings have striven to perfect the means of warfare, a lot of animals besides "short-eared tailless rodents" have been subjects in military experiments.
In this 1962 Air Force experiment, a bear is substituted for the pilot to test aircraft ejection seats.

From "TOOLS FOR RESEARCH" (Department of Defense film): "Probably attributable to the improper impacting position of the capsule, internal injuries of some severity to the bear were at first reported. A more careful examination of the animal, however, raised the question of whether these were inflicted during the test or at some earlier time."

NARRATOR: Because military aircraft often fly fast at low altitudes, collisions with birds are frequent.

PETER JENNINGS, ABC News broadcast, 28 September 1987: "One of the Air Force's most sophisticated aircraft, the B-1 bomber, crashed today near a training complex in
La Junta, Colorado. Three of the six crewmen were killed. Our Pentagon correspondent Bob Zelnick on what went wrong."

BOB ZELNICK, same broadcast: "The plane, which was not carrying any bombs, went down on a practice mission about 60 miles southeast of Pueblo, Colorado. According to the Strategic Air Command, after taking off from Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, the plane struck a flock of birds, which were sucked into its engine."

NARRATOR: Bird collisions with aircraft windshields can also spell disaster.

From US Air Force film: "The Improved Windshield Protection Program Office of the Flight Dynamics Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, recognized the significant flight safety hazard posed by bird impacts. They instituted a program to develop an improved system to meet the Air Force requirement: defeating the impact of a four-pound bird at a velocity of 500 knots."

NARRATOR: What you are seeing are birds being shot into windshields from a special cannon referred to as the "chicken gun."
There are other experiments that are even more macabre. Fortunately for the birds, they were already dead before they hit the windshield, but that was not the case for the pig in this 1959 Army experiment on burns. (US Army film, 1959.)
Reportedly, the pig was burned in an attempt to learn more about why severe burn wounds increase the body's thirst for fluids.
In 1990, the Army cancelled plans to test a new bone-grafting compound. The test would have required breaking the leg bones of healthy greyhound racing dogs.
But the Army's curiosity killed the cat in experiments aimed at finding better treatments for brain-wounded soldiers. In 1991, in the wake of a critical report by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, the Army terminated its controversial cat-shooting experiments eight years and 700 cats after they were begun.
Some animal experiments have been performed so that we may avoid becoming victims of our own weapons of mass destruction.

From "RADIATION-INDUCED PERFORMANCE DECREMENT" (US Air Force film): "The awesome weaponry developed within the past two decades compels the nation's scientific researchers to constantly evaluate the effect such weapons might have on military personnel within their range of influence."

NARRATOR: Pigs have been substituted for humans to test the effects of nuclear weapons.

From "OPERATION PLUMBOMB" (Department of Defense film): "On DOD Shot Priscilla, 710 pigs were stationed at over-pressure ranges of 10 to 1.4 psi in an arrangement to obtain a wide selection of combinations of radiation, thermal and mechanical injury effects.

"The mortality rate, nearly 100 percent, can be applied to man."

NARRATOR: For these descendants of Noah's Ark, being herded on to a boat meant something other than salvation. It meant a one-way trip to ground zero.

From "TOOLS FOR RESEARCH" (Department of Defense film): "Animals of many kinds of shipped aboard the target vessels to serve as proxies for human crews in man's endeavor to discover measures to counteract the deadly results of nuclear fission."

NARRATOR: Biological agents and chemical weapons have also been tested on animals.

From "PROJECT X" (1987): "Now what you're going to see is a typical exposure run, which will measure the performance decrement to the subject after an ionizing radiation insert."

These scenes are from the 1987 film "Project X." The scenes portrayed in this Hollywood movie are based upon experiments Donald Barnes performed for sixteen years at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas. Today, Barnes directs the Washington office of the National Anti-Vivisection Society, an organization opposing the use of animals in research. He describes the experiment that eventually led him to make the transition from Air Force researcher to vocal critic of military animal experimentation.

DONALD BROOKS: I had an opportunity to re-evaluate when I was ordered to do an experiment which was scientifically invalid. I was told to radiate four trained Rhesus monkeys at a dose level which would occasion no behavioral change. So, I said, "No, I'm not going to do the experiment."
Well, I was told, "We agree, it's going to be a negative experiment, but we've promised the results to the Strategic Air Command. Therefore, you will do the experiment."
Then I clicked, because this was for political reasons, funding reasons. Our funding base was predicated upon our ability to at least promise data to an operational command.

NARRATOR: Through the years, the Air Force has defended experiments like these in order to learn more about the effects on pilots of flying through radioactive environments.

From "RADIATION-INDUCED PERFORMANCE DECREMENT" (US Air Force film): "Of specific interest to Air Force investigators are the potential dangers of ionizing radiation on aircraft crew members as a result of nuclear explosions in the area of airborne craft."

NARRATOR: According to Barnes, animal experiments conducted for purposes such as this, experiments he performed for the Air Force, are pointless. They have no relevance to any military or, for that matter, human situation.

Mr. BARNES: When these data -- And this is a critical point. When these data go from the monkey laboratory into the Air Force and Army EM-1 manuals, journals, whatever they may be, they are relabeled. It says "Man Radiation Response Curve." It doesn't say a think about monkeys or where they came from. It was a direct one-to-one extrapolation.
And the Rhesus monkeys are not little furry human beings, as much as we might have been led to believe that we can extrapolate from one species to another. The response to ionizing radiation is entirely different than the human primate.

NARRATOR: Barnes says that the experiments he performed for the Air Force, and the one he refused to perform, were also a tremendous waste of taxpayers' money.

Mr. BARNES: It used to cost us about $75 to buy a Rhesus monkey. By the time we finished with the materiel, the computer systems, the biometric services, all the people that went into this whole training thing, months had gone by and these animals were worth at least $50,000 apiece to the American taxpayer. When they killed those four monkeys, I said there's $200,000 that was not well spent.

NARRATOR: Using government data, In Defense of Animals, an animals rights groups, has estimated that half a million animals are used in military research each year at a cost of about
$110 million.

Mr. BARNES: Animals to us were as expendable as nuts and bolts. If one died, we simply replaced the animal with another. I think that my unit alone was responsible for the deaths of over 1000 Rhesus monkeys or Vesicularus monkeys, but I was just one investigator, Sandy. I mean, there were investigators all around me, other people doing similar things with monkeys, or with dogs, or with mice, or rats, or other animals that were available there.

NARRATOR: "AMERICA'S DEFENSE MONITOR" invited the Pentagon and the Defense Nuclear Agency to respond to the issues raised in this program. Both declined.
The Army Medical Research and Development Command did, however, respond with a letter. Among other things, it stated that all medical research involving the use of animals is conducted in accordance with both the Animal Welfare Act and US Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. It said also that its total use of animals decreased by 35 percent between 1986 and 1990 due to its increased use of non-animal substitutes in research.
In a press release issued in November 1990, officials of Brooks Air Force Base said they make every effort to treat research animals humanely and that the research data gathered at Brooks is "highly relevant to the safety and lives of US Air Force members."

Mr. BARNES: Now I don't want to suggest that people are out there fraudulently thinking up experiments and doing these. People have been, as I was, conditioned to believe that the only way to gain these data is to use non-human animals and that it is a legitimate and reasonable scientific pursuit. I question that.

NARRATOR: Some military use of animals may be necessary and justified, others may not be. But one thing is certain. Animals of all kinds have played a big part in both war and the preparations for war.

Admiral LaROCQUE: Wow! That was pretty rough stuff, I'm sure you will agree, a lot rougher than I thought it would be. When I was a young man preparing to be an officer in the United States cavalry, I thought it would be fun to dash off to battle on a horse. I never once considered what the horse might think of this whole operation. Today, we are obviously using a lot of animals to prepare for and to wage war, and I think that's a bit unfair on the animals we're using.
I'm sorry the Pentagon would not comment on this program. But perhaps if you want more information from the Pentagon or from the members of Congress, it might be useful to drop them a note and ask them what they think of using animals in preparing for and fighting in war. Or, drop us a note here at the Center for Defense Information.
Until next time, for "AMERICA'S DEFENSE MONITOR," I'm Gene LaRocque.

[End of broadcast.]

(Center for Defense Information).
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