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In simpler times it was the canary. But today's avian suicide jockeys are chickens, which are to be press-ganged into service by the US Army when/if/when it invades Iraq.

No, they won't be packed with explosives - like the kamikaze camels of Afghanistan. Instead they will sit "in cages atop Humvees, used as early warning gas detectors," the BBC reports.

But are the chickens made of the right stuff? Early indications are not encouraging. "The US Army calls the strategy Operation Kuwaiti Field Chicken - or KFC - but the plan has been put on hold after 41 of the 43 chickens deployed to the Gulf died within a week of arrival."

So what about the Navy Seals? Or to be more precise, Navy Sea-Lions, 20 recruits, all graduates of the US Navy's Marine Mammal Programme in San Diego, California. And they beat the crap out of dolphins when it comes to marine warfare.

Says the BBC. "the Navy opted to use sea lions because they are more manoeuvrable than their cetacean counterparts and better able to handle the higher temperatures in the region."

They will be earning their keep in the Gulf "by protecting US and British warships against attacks from underwater saboteurs and mines".

There is a technology arms race out there. Keep up! ®

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BBC: Let slip the sea lions of war

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