Special Forces Canine Sniffs Out Trouble

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AFGHANISTAN - U.S. Special Forces have the most highly specialized soldiers in the world.

Each soldier trains for years and also learns the jobs of all the others. They become experts in weapons, communications, engineering and even diplomacy. Years of combat experience hone their senses to a razor's edge.

For some, those senses seem super human. One member of the 7th Special Forces can sniff out hidden explosives and has other unique qualities - like four feet and a tail.

Meet Argus, one of only a handful of Special Forces canines. His training is incredibly diverse and thorough.

His handler, a Special Forces staff sergeant, explains, "Argus can fast-rope, he rides on helicopters, and even jumps out of airplanes - wherever we go, he goes."

It's a program enjoying huge success and is very popular with the soldiers. Argus even trains as a member of the team.

This day, its medical refresher training - learning how to give an IV. Each man practices on his buddy, and has to be on the receiving end as well. And that includes Argus.

"He obviously doesn't like it, but since he's one of the most likely to be injured, it's important that we know how to do this because we want to be able to save him if he ever gets hurt," his handler explains.

In addition to being able to find IEDs (improvised explosive devices) , Argus can track the bad guys by scent, look for drugs or even take down a bad guy.

"To date he's found three different IEDs and two different caches," his handler said.That makes him a hero to the guys on the team.

"We love having Argus around. He brings a lot to the team, and we treat him just like one of the guys. Every man here would put his life on the line for Argus, just like we would for each other," said one Special Forces soldier.

Later, on a mission, Argus's skills were put to the test when an IED went off in front of a convoy. Fortunately, the explosive missed the lead vehicle and nobody was hurt. But just in case there were more, Argus jumped into action.

"We cleared the road up ahead to make sure its safe," Argus' handler said.

While Argus doesn't receive hazardous duty pay, he does receive lots of love and appreciation from his teammates.

At the end of the day, that - and his ball - are all he needs to stay happy.

*Originally broadcast November 19, 2008.

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Chuck Holton

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