Sergeant Diego and his handler Staff Sgt. Robert Starkweather, both deployed to Iraq from the Misawa Air Base in Japan, were assigned to K-9 Unit of the 506th Expeditionary security Forces Squadron of the U.S. Air Force.
The U.S. Navy SEALs used a Belgian Malinois military dog named Cairo in the Operation Neptune Spear in which Osama bin Laden was shot and killed on May 2, 2011 inside his specially built mansion in a private residential compound located 1.3 km (0.8 miles) southwest of the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad.
These working dogs, along with German Shepherds, are extensively used in K-9 units of specially trained police and military dogs to assist in sensitive and often dangerous work such as bomb detection, search and rescue operations and other similar jobs. They are extensively bred for use as military working dogs in several countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and in Unit Oketz of Israel Defense Forces.
Like other Belgian Shepherds belonging to the family of sheepdogs, the Malinois is a medium-sized dog with a square build and black muzzle and erect ears. Generally, they have short mahogany colored coats with slightly black shadings or markings, though some dogs of this breed may have coats in solid black and black tan. They can grow to a height of about 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm) at the withers, with their weight ranging from 25 to 34 kg. Their average lifespan is 10 to 12 years.
The Belgian Malinois dog is also known by other names such as Belgian Shepherd Dog, Chien de Berger Belge, Mechelaar and Mechelse Herder.