Throughout history, in war and in peacetime, animals and mankind have worked alongside each other. As beasts of burden, messengers, protectors, mascots, and friends, these war animals have demonstrated true valour and an enduring partnership with humans. The bond is unbreakable, their sacrifice great – we should honour the animals of war.
It is estimated that approximately 400,00 horses have left Australian shores to war only one was ever returned. Even one of our most famous animal icons Simpsons Donkey was never brought home. Thousands of other donkeys and Mules have served the colours none ever came home. During more recent wars all 11 dogs in Vietnam were left on our enemies shores as we withdrew. The very first Australian war animals to be returned was as late as 1993 from Somalia, today Military dogs are serving in the front lines of Afghanistan saving diggers lives by detecting road side bombs whilst equines are carrying supplies in mountainous terrain for our troops.
Currently within the ADF the use of animals in fact is on the increase as opposed to decline. This is primarily due to Military Working Dogs (MWD) and Specialist Explosive search dogs being used to combat Terrorist activities in both Homeland Defence and offensive operations. These units include the Engineers, Military Police and RAAF MWD teams. There are also several official Regimental Mascots within the ADF.
War animals being honoured include all past and present conflicts and operational roles such as:
- Military Working Dogs
- ADF Mascots
- Marine Mammals
- Other native and exotic animal used in aid or comfort of defence personnel