US Military Feature: An Appeal to Germany --- Let Us Shoot Pigs For "Real-Life" Battlefield Training
German protesters demonstrate against proposed shooting and stabbing of pigs for US "battlefield training"
New EA staff member Jonathan Singerton writes:
And now the latest news on Pigs, Medical Practice, and the US Military...
The US company Deployment Medicine International (DMI), which has branches across Europe, wants changes in Germany's animal rights laws so it can conduct medical training with live pigs as subjects.
DMI is a contractor for the US military, training the majority of army medics in Operational Medicine courses. These include “live tissue training” which requires pigs --- selected for their closeness to human flesh --- to be deliberately wounded to recreate battlefield trauma on which the medics gain "real-life" experience.
In July 2009, DMI conducted these courses in California, on a 17-acre plot of private land owned by an ex-Marine and policeman. Authorities would not comment on how the pigs were given the "right" combat wounds, but reports suggested that they were being shot and stabbed. The training only came to light after a neighbour filed a complaint over the noise, said to include battle sounds of gunfire and helicopters.
After the training was brought to the public's attention by animal rights groups such as PETA () DMI maintained it was fulfilling its $1 million contract with the Marines, acting in accordance with Department of Defense regulations and guidelines. The rules ban the use of weapons for medical training on most animals from cats to monkeys, but it is allowed for pigs, unless there are alternatives that provide exact results.
Most medical-training schools have halted the procedure and instead use dummies, mannequins, or other simulators. The 1st US Marine Expeditionary Force however believes them to be the best solution to “adequately prepare both our medical staff and some select marines prior to combat deployment".
Still, facing possible objections in the US, DMI turned its efforts towards its European network. In 2010 the company applied repeatedly for a permit to use live animals, such as pigs, in its training sessions in the German state of Bavaria. Government officials in the Oberpfalz region denied each attempt, with protesters gathering at a US Army base near Heidelburg.
DMI was not deterred, turning to its facility at Ronneburg in the state of Thuringia in eastern Germany. They lobbied the Regional Office for Food Safety and Consumer Protection (Thüringer Landesamt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Verbraucherschutz) last year. When they were rejected again, they brought a lawsuit against the TLLV.
Last Wednesday, after a five-hour hearing, the Administrative Court of Thuringia refused DMI any rights to conduct their training sessions with live animals in Germany. German officials indicated that other methods, such as dummies or training puppets, were more suitable, even in the case of a foreign company.
The extent to which the US Army is involved in DMI's persistent efforts remains unclear. Major Audrey Gboney-Leon, the spokeswomen for the US Army in Europe, said, “We [US Army] are not currently conducting, nor do we plan to conduct, any such training in Germany.” Members of the State Parliament are not convinced, asking on the floor of the legislature why the American mililtary would want to pursue the exercises.
Meanwhile, the company considers its next move. Despite the setbacks, it can draw consolation that the attention of the press has been relatively muted, with reports only in a few Thuringian papers and the Austrian newspaper Der Standard. So that leaves open an appeal to one of the 16 German states where DMI has not yet sought approval.