The Humane Society of the United States objected in September to the Army’s plans to injure goats in order to teach battlefield medical techniques to special forces units at Fort Carson, Colorado.
The training exercise calls for the goats to be sedated and then wounded. Special forces soldiers than treat the injuries. At the end of the exercise, the goats are euthanized.
HSUS sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asking that goats not be used in the exercise. Michael Stephens, HSUS vice president for animal research issues said in a press release,
ThereÂ’s a certain implausibility to the claim that such an exercise would properly prepare anyone for the projected scenario of battlefield care. Of course, The Humane Society of the United States supports proper training of military medical personnel for the benefit of American soldiers, but injuring animals need not be part of the process. The Department of Defense has had nearly 20 years to figure out how to train army medics without harming live animals. If they can devise unmanned drones and bunker-busting bombs, surely they can figure out how to simulate human battlefield injuries without injuring animals.
. . .
The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of our eight million constituents, will continue to urge the military to stop these senseless exercises. If the DOD doesn’t like the currently available alternatives, they should spend some money and effort into research on other methods of training.
That message certainly got through to goat farmer Karen Robinson, who told The Colorado Spring Gazette that the planned exercise was wrong because,
They [goats] are almost like humans.
For its part, the Army claims the goats are treated humanely and that using goats is vital to the Special Forces training. Rebecca Ellison of the United States Army Special Forces Command issued a statement saying,
The army will go forth with this training because it is vital in teaching special forces and other special operations medics to manage critically injured patients. In effect, this type of training is directly responsible for saving lives in real world combat situations. All training involving animals is conducted in accordance with established protocols and all applicable federal laws.
Using goats to practice battlefield medical techniques is a method that the Special Forces have used for almost 20 years.
Goat lovers aghast over Army plan. Tom Roeder, Colorado Springs Gazette, September 9, 2004.
Using injured goats for Army training causes controversy. KOAA, September 9, 2004.