If you would be asked to name animals helping the soldiers during wars or even on some of their other missions and tasks, perhaps you would say dogs, or horses, maybe pigeons. All of which are correct and common. The help from the animal kingdom is not limited to them, though, as there are other species helping us perform these military duties. Here are some military animals that you might not have expected.

War Elephants, Pachyderms For Peace

Army elephants of India
Army elephants of India. (Wikimedia Commons)

If horse-mounting soldiers are called cavalry, there is also such a thing as elephantry, which, as the name suggests, are military units riding elephants.

War elephants were specifically known to be used by Ancient India and Ancient China during battles to charge the enemy, break their ranks, and crush their enemies with foot, trunk and tusk. Some were even armored. Their greatest weapon against most enemies was the sheer shock effect of a foe seeing for the first time such a huge beast coming at them. Other armies in Southeast Asia also used them to carry heavy supplies, equipment, and weapons. With their maximum speed of up to 16 MPH, they could also be valuable means of transportation. Both in India and Sri Lanka, they would attach heavy iron chains with steel balls on these elephants’ tusks and train them to whirl them at enemies. When rockets and some other firearms became prominent in battles during the late sixteenth century, elephants were no longer used as these weapons were effective against them. Turned out they were deathly afraid of fire and would panic and crush the troops on their own side in flight.

The last known use of elephants in the war was in Iraq in 1987, when they used them to carry heavy weapons going to Kirkuk. Meanwhile, the US Special Forces field manual issued in 2004 classified elephants as field animals, although they are not being used since they are endangered animals.