Meet the Heroic Dog Conan

By | November 2, 2020

[November 2, 2020]  Can dogs be heroes?  Some people think so, and I agree with them.  A year ago, a daring raid was conducted by U.S. Special Forces targeting ISIS terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  The hero dog Conan chased al-Baghdadi into a tunnel, resulting in the terrorist leader blowing himself up.1  This highly-classified, dramatic operation took place in Syria.

Contents of this article are taken from open sources, and no classified information is used.  I’m acknowledging this upfront because there are always nick pickers who believe and will accuse me of improperly exposing classified information.  Naturally, the exposure of such classified information is unacceptable, and I am careful about no longer having access to such secret data.

The dog Conan is a male Belgian Malinois breed.  More details on this breed can be found at the American Kennel Club website (see link here).  An average male runs about 75 pounds and is  part of the “herding group.”2

 “We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!” –  U.S. President Donald J. Trump in a tweet, October 28, 2019

 Conan, name later declassified, was injured during the raid when al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children.  Working dogs have been a part of U.S. military culture dating back to World War I.  Dogs typically are ranked as noncommissioned officers, often a higher rank than the dog’s handler.3,4  These dogs are routinely involved in high-level, special operation missions or assigned to conventional forces to find hidden explosives.

After quickly garnering mainstream attention following the raid, merchandising with Conan’s depiction and the slogan “Zero Bark Thirty” appeared online, a reference to Zero Dark Thirty, a film about the 2011 special operations raid targeting Osama bin Laden.  This goes to the center of what a hero can be; someone, in this case, a dog, who does something extraordinary at the risk of their life.

Conan made a surprise visit to the White House along with his handler.  President Trump called him a “tough cookie” and “actually incredible.”  First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attended the event.  VP Pence petted Conan and called him a “hero” during brief remarks.

President Trump also met with some of the other Special Forces personnel that participated in the al-Baghdadi raid, who were not identified for national security reasons as they were engaged in active duty.


  4. During World War I, “Sergeant Stubby,” described by The New York Timesat his death in April 1926 as “only a dog, and unpedigreed at that,” was the first dog in U.S. Army history to be granted military rank, according to U.S. Army historical records. He took part in four major offensives, the Times wrote, and Stubby’s first injury in combat was from gas exposure.
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Meet the Heroic Dog Conan

  1. Dale Paul Fox

    This article unintentionally shows that there is a close relationship between dogs and humans. This bond has been around for thousands of years and works well for the most part. The story of Conan the dog and the raid to take out one of the worlds greatest terrorists is a classic example.

    1. old warrior

      I like the fact (maybe not fact but sounds good) that al-Baghdadi cried like a baby before killing himself. The fact (and this is fact) that when he blew himself up, he also killed three of his own children. Shows the depravity of some humans esp. those of Islamic variety.

  2. Max Foster

    There is a lesson in heroism here. I don’t agree that dogs can be heroes but there is something to be said for dogs that do things out of the ordinary. Maybe that is why the US military doesn’t give medals to dogs. The whole point of heroes is to show us behavior that is so beyond the ordinary and so risky that we encourage heroic behavior to advance the cause of our group, or in this case, the military.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      President Trump called him a “tough cookie” and “actually incredible.” I agree with Pres. Trump.

    2. Army Captain

      Maybe dogs can be heroes if we take the view that some behaviors rise to the level that we should take notice and try to do the same. Isn’t that what heroism is about?

  3. Dennis Mathes

    I also appreciate the footnote on World War I, “Sergeant Stubby,” the first dog for the US military. Of course, he was a pet more than a war dog. War dogs have a specific function like tracking down bad guys like al-Baghdadi or sniffing out explosives or illegal drugs. Good article. Thanks.

      1. ARay Pittman

        Read more about War Dogs by searching the Internet and you will be surprised at the history of dogs and war machines. More should be done here in Gen. Satterfield’s blog to show this connection.

        1. Doug Smith

          Maybe but the point here is that Conan did something great and we are all appreciative of his actions. Yes, we should do more to both show these acts of courage so that others see it and see it as evidence that some acts are more important than others.

  4. Sean Matthews, Jr.

    I’m a dog lover, so naturally I loved this leadership blog post. Keep up the great works, Gen. Satterfield.

    1. apache2

      Yeah, me too. I own a husky named Brandon. He’s been with me now for more than a decade and we are real pals. Ha Ha Ha Ha

  5. Janna Faulkner

    This is a good article and light enough to make my Monday special. Thanks. My dog, Harriette sits beside me as I read articles on my laptop (not the Hunter Biden laptop) and sip coffee early in the morning hours on my back porch. I do love dogs. 👍

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Nice! Only to have time to drink a cup of coffee while relaxing. Your dog should appreciate you too.

    2. Eric Coda

      Janna, you are on target. Yes, this article is a bit light and that is what we need as the USA approaches a major fork in the road – will it go done the socialist road like so many have (Venezuela, Cuba, etc) or down the road of capitalism (like it has so far). A change in directions does not mean a good thing.

        1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

          We should find out soon. I think the US will follow the dogs and go down the socialist path. Jimmy Carter is happy that someone might actually be worse than him as president and Joe Biden will compete with him for the worst president in US history.

        2. Dead Pool Guy

          Is communism on our doorstep in the US? Will socialism be the path? Just look at Syria, Libya, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, and CHina. How has that communism/socialism worked out for the people? Not so well.


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