London, England—A former SBS military working dog will receive the PSDA Dickin Medal, the Victoria Cross equivalent for animals.

Mali, a Belgian Malinois, aged eight and now attached to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RACV), will be the 69th recipient of the medal.

He’s been awarded the medal for his actions on 15 April 2012, when a Taliban force had stormed the international section of Kabul.

That day, the Taliban had simultaneously struck in Kabul and in three other Afghan provinces.  Suicide bombers stormed a building near the European embassies.  Meanwhile, other insurgents with heavy machine-guns and RPGs had occupied two structures near the Afghan parliament.

Although brave and determined, the Afghan security forces failed to clear the buildings.  International SOF was summoned.  They included the SBS team to which Mali was attached, NZSAS troopers, and Norwegian FSK operators.

The wounded Mali carried by his SBS partner (

The SBS team had stormed the building where the insurgents were holed-up.  Room by room, the cleared it, also using ladders to outflank the Taliban.  It was during the room-clearing that Mali performed his heroics.

Although wounded by shrapnel wounds from enemy grenades in the abdomen, legs, and face, the SBS dog sniffed out IEDs and Taliban who were waiting in corners to shoot his troopers.

“He also indicated the presence of insurgents numerous times, giving the assault force vital milliseconds to engage the enemy in close quarter combat,” the PDSA said.

Despite his wounds, Mali remained with the SBS team until the Taliban threat was over, after almost eight hours.

“To achieve this while exposed to close combat and such intense enemy attack, makes him an incredibly worthy recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal,” said Jan McLoughlin, the charity’s Director General.

Also decorated for the same engagement were two SBS operators, one of who was Mali’s hander. One received the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and the other the Military Cross, thus making the day one of the most decorated in UK SOF history.

Mali will be entering the halls of valour alongside 32 messenger pigeons, 31 dogs, four horses, and a cat.

The Dickin Medal (

“The way he conducted himself when it mattered most enabled my colleagues to achieve success in close combat,” said Mali’s current hander Corporal Daniel Hatley, Mali’s current handler and first trainer.

The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943.  It is awarded by the PDSA, an animal charity.


Featured image courtesy of U.K. Ministry of Defence.