A British Military Working Dog (MWD) who helped save the lives of troops in Afghanistan has received the prestigious PDSA Dickin Medal – the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.
Mali, a Belgian Malinois, has been recognised for his heroic actions during a highly sensitive military operation in 2012, where he assisted an assault force in securing a key enemy stronghold.
The medal was presented by the UK’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA. A presentation ceremony, held at The People’s Palace, London, was attended by Mali and his current handler, Corporal Daniel Hatley.
Mali’s ‘awesome ability and determination’ were praised by PDSA Director General, Jan McLoughlin, who declared the dog ‘an incredibly worthy recipient’ of the medal.
Eight-year-old Mali, who is attached to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC), is trained to sniff out explosives and detect insurgents. His expertise during one particular operation was vital in helping the UK forces and its allies secure a key enemy stronghold amid sustained fire.
Commenting on Mali’s PDSA Dickin Medal, the charity’s Director General, Jan McLoughlin, said: “Mali has displayed a truly awesome ability and determination to seek out explosives and insurgents during a key operation. To achieve this while exposed to close combat and such intense enemy attack, makes him an incredibly worthy recipient of the PDSA Dickin Medal. It is even more poignant that we were able to make Mali’s award today on our charity’s 100th birthday.”
Corporal (Cpl) Daniel Hatley trained Mali as a puppy before he was deployed to Afghanistan to work with another handler, whose identity cannot be revealed for security reasons. Cpl Hatley and Mali are now reunited to work together again, based at the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray.
Commenting on Mali’s honour, he said: “I am extremely proud of Mali. The way he conducted himself when it mattered most enabled my colleagues to achieve success in close combat. Being awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal recognises Mali’s vital role within the force that day.”
Lieutenant Colonel Abby DuBaree from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps said: “Mali’s PDSA Dickin Medal is extremely well deserved. Stories like Mali’s are sobering to read and help to demonstrate the key role that animals continue to play in our armed forces.
“Mali joins our distinguished roll of honour for Royal Army Veterinary Corps animals who have received the PDSA Dickin Medal. We are exceptionally proud of him. That this medal has also been bestowed by PDSA on the charity’s 100th birthday makes this honour even more special.”
Brigadier Roly Walker, Head Army Strategy and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) said: “As long as we’ve had soldiers, we’ve had animals; and I think we always will have them.
“Today’s award of a PDSA Dickin Medal to Mali recognises this unique bond. It comes as the Royal Army Veterinary Corps prepares to mark the centenary anniversary of its Royal Charter, a reflection of the historic service and heroism of military working animals and their handlers in war.
“The medal also recognises the tremendous innovations the Corps has made in selecting already high-performing animals and then using cutting edge technology to enhance their working abilities. The result is world-class combat teaming between human, animal and technology, with each part augmenting the inherent abilities of the other. This sort of sophisticated teaming is essential to us being combat ready and able to meet the constantly shifting challenges we face, whether on operations overseas or here in the UK.”