By Gina Harkins, Military.com
President Donald Trump met on Monday (Nov. 25) with special operators who took down the former head of the Islamic State group at the White House and awarded a medal to the military working dog who was injured in the operation.
Conan, a Belgian Malinois assigned to 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment- Delta, made his first public appearance during the meeting. Trump said the dog was awarded a certificate and a plaque, along with a medal that will be displayed at the White House.
“[The special operators] did a fantastic job and Conan did a fantastic job,” the president said. “…The dog is incredibly, absolutely incredible. We spent some good time with it– so brilliant and so smart.”
Trump did not say what kind of medal he presented the animal.
Conan is credited with chasing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi down a tunnel last month during a secret raid on the ISIS leader’s compound.
The dog was the only member of the Delta team injured in the mission after Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest when Conan chased him down a dead-end tunnel.
Trump said the team didn’t initially know if the dog would survive his injuries, but he recovered quickly and has since gone out on more raids. The dog is in his “prime time” and is not headed into retirement yet.
“Conan is a tough cookie — nobody is going to mess with Conan,” Trump said, adding that military working dogs typically remain on active duty for about six years, “like an athlete. ”
The operators who met with the president did not appear on the White House lawn in order to protect their identities. Members of Delta Force carry out some of the military’s most clandestine missions.
Trump called it an honor to meet with them on Monday. Few details were released about Conan right after the Baghdadi raid. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Army Gen.
Mark Milley said at the time that military leaders were protecting the dog’s identity.
There were initial reports that the dog was a female, but Pentagon officials later confirmed the animal’s gender was male before Trump revealed Conan’s name.
Vice President Mike Pence said Conan is a hero who represents the team’s heroism.
Trump was briefed on the tools available to the members of the Delta team before the raid, Pence said, including their military working dogs.
“You put the premium on the safety of our Special Forces,” Pence said to the president.“… We were able to complete the raid without any American casualties, so I think having the Special Forces here…and also having this dog here today is all a reflection of our Armed Forces and the great job that they do.”
On their way back into the White House, a reporter asked first lady Melania Trump if she wanted to adopt Conan for the couple’s son, Barron.
The president, in response, just turned and laughed.