Post-army Israelis have long made India a favorite destination after completing their service, but another kind of IDF veteran has also been heading to the south Asian nation attack and sniffer dogs trained by the army’s Oketz canine unit.
Over the past year India has taken delivery of some 30 security dogs to amplify protection for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top figures, The Telegraph India reported Saturday.
A security official, not named in the report, explained that “because of a heightened threat perception, we wanted to beef up the Prime Minister’s security.”
“They are part of the Israeli defense forces’ ace canine unit,” he added.
The official would not discuss the cost of the dogs, but local Israeli media estimated in the past that each pooch costs tens of thousands of dollars to train.
The dogs, trained for attack and bomb-sniffing duties, will join the Special Protection Group tasked with security of senior officials, former prime ministers, and members of their families, the report said.
“The new four-legged recruits to the SPG are considered the best in the world in sniffing out explosive booby-traps,” another senior security official told the paper.
The dogs — Labradors, German shepherds, Belgian Malinois dogs and a fourth “rare breed” the source would not identify are also considered very effective in combat, the source said.
The SPG’s home-trained sniffer dogs come from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, which has a dog-training center at Bhanu in Chandigarth.
Training lasts for 24 weeks, and the program churns out 24 dogs every six months.
An ITBP official explained that “Israel is also helping us upgrade the dog-training center.”
In July Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. The two countries have cooperated on a range of defense projects.