Congressman Ted Lieu of California and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) recently delivered a briefing in Washington, D.C. on a bill titled the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training Practices Act. The bill previously died in 2013, but was re-introduced in 2015. The most recent update shows the bill currently being reviewed by the House Armed Services Committee. The bill states that the Department of Defense uses more than 6,000 live animals each year to train physicians, medics, corpsmen, and other personnel in methods of responding to severe battlefield injuries. The purpose of the bill is to push the military into utilizing only cadavers, simulators, and other training aids that replicate traumatic injuries.

Companies that are authorized to conduct live-tissue training (LTT) have to go through a specific certification process to become DoD approved, and they must follow guidelines established by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. They must have a veterinarian present during all the training to ensure that the animals are cared for properly and to administer anesthesia throughout the exercises. The animals are then euthanized afterwards. Nobody wants to see animals hurt, but contrary to what PETA is saying, these animals do not suffer or feel pain due to the medication they are given.

The animals sacrifice their lives so that doctors, medics, and forward operators can have the most realistic experience possible. There is not a medical simulator, makeup, or mannequin that can simulate both the physical reaction and internal mental pressure and stress a person feels when trying to save a life.

“The emotional and physiological response to training with live anatomy and the stress of keeping a specimen alive for many hours best prepares Marines for actual casualties in stressful combat conditions,” said Col. Sean Gibson, spokesman with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL, was killed alongside U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, on Sep. 11, 2012. Several months before he died, he wrote an article for SOFREP titled, “Behind the Secret Curtain of the U.S. Military’s ‘Goat Lab.'” When he wrote the article, the original bill was still in the House Armed Services Committee—just like it is now. His words are as true today as the day that he wrote them.

“Live tissue training prepares people for real world trauma. The opposition to live tissue training argues that due to anatomical and physiological differences between goats and humans (thicker skin, smaller appendages) that training is ‘suboptimal.’ Indeed it is ‘suboptimal,’ but until it becomes legal to perform these procedures on Death Row inmates, it’s the best current viable and cost-effective option.”

Live animals used in military medical training

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“Additionally, the animals are treated with the utmost care, and are anesthetized before and throughout the training, and euthanized after the exercise, They feel no pain. They are carefully monitored by trainers and veterinarians, who ultimately follow guidelines established by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.”

“I would imagine that many a PETA member would change their mind if they had sons and daughters fighting overseas (that’s a big IF), and spoke to or read the testimonials from medics and operators who have gone through live tissue training.”

Jack Murphy, SOFREP’s editor-in-chief, has also written on this topic. Jack offers firsthand knowledge as a graduate of the course, and has witnessed lives saved by that training during his deployment.

The reality is that these goats are used by the SOCM (Special Operations Combat Medic) course to help train our special operations medics to work on casualties under the most realistic conditions possible in a simulated environment—training them as we fight. SOCM does not just train Special Forces medics, but also Navy SEAL and Ranger medics as well. These are the very best combat medics in the world. I’ve seen them in action myself, and have 100 percent confidence in the product that comes out of the SOCM course at Ft. Bragg.

I have even been able to participate in live-tissue training a few times as a Special Forces weapons sergeant. I found it to be some of the best training I ever had.”

This topic needed to be brought to your attention again because PETA and and their supporters are still trying to actively push this legislation through congress. PETA throws around words like “barbaric” and “cruel” when referring to this training. War is barbaric and cruel, but this training is not. These animals do not suffer or die in vain; they help save lives.

PETA and those supporting the legislation may ultimately jeopardize the lives of our men and women overseas. They do not see the men and women dying from gunshot wounds or IED blasts on foreign soil, the military does. PETA and the supporters of this bill are telling America that a goat or pig’s life is worth more than the life of someone in uniform.