Famous Military Dog Conan Who Chased ISIS Leader Al Baghdadi Gets Medal At The White House

The military working dog named Conan, who became famous for taking part in the dramatic raid on a remote compound in Syria that led to the death of infamous ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has received a medal and a plaque in a photo-op at the White House. Conan was injured in the operation, but has recovered and remains on active duty.

You can read all about the raid, which occured nearly a month ago now, and Conan’s part in it, in the War Zone‘s past reporting here and here. The dog’s regular handler did not accompany him to the ceremony at the White House due to operational security concerns, since that individual is also still on active duty.

“Conan came over from the Middle East – just arrived with some of the great people from the special forces that did the – it was a flawless attack,” President Donald Trump told members of the press. “And al-Baghdadi is gone. That was a flawless attack and I just met quite a few of them. And we just gave Conan a medal and a plaque.”

“I actually think Conan knew exactly what was going on,” he added. “The dog is incredible… We spent some good time with it. And so brilliant – so smart.”

Trump also warned reporters that Conan was trained to attack if you opened your mouth and to be careful around him. By all actual indications, Conan is, not surprisingly, very well trained and appeared docile and friendly at the event, not requiring a muzzle as often seen on military working dogs at public events.

“In spite of being with a new handler, Conan was very calm and composed,” a member of the White House press corp wrote in a pool report. “In your pooler’s humble opinion, he was a very good boy. A very good boy indeed.”

There continues to be some confusion around the dog’s sex, with the press pool later changing their statement to indicate the dog is actually female based on statements from White House staff. “Your pooler retracts the earlier comment that Conan was a very good boy. Conan is apparently a very good girl. Good girl Conan.”

However, in a press conference on Oct. 30, 2019, regarding the raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound, U.S. Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), had specifically said that the dog was male. He had also said that the dog, whatever its sex, was a four year veteran of the U.S. Special Operations Command K-9 program and has already taken part in approximately 50 operations. Following the appearance at the White House, the dog will go right back to being available to take part in future American special operations missions. 

Today, though, Conan can bask in the limelight, representing the invaluable contribution of military working dogs to U.S. special operations, as well as conventional missions, around the world. It’s a continuation of an already long and impressive history of dogs taking part in American military activities. Conan has also had the opportunity to be the public face of the raid, since the humans who participated, such as his handler, can’t appear in public yet to receive their own accolades.

If you’re interested in support the military working dog community yourself, you can make a donation to one of the many foundations, including the Warrior Dog Foundation or Mission K9, that are working to ensure that these four-legged veterans live a healthy and fulfilling life after they leave their respective services. 

First Lady Melania Trump told reporters that she was not interested in adopting Conan as a pet for her son Baron, but the dog will hopefully find a good home in the future as at least some small recognition of its service to the country.

UPDATE: 4:00pm EST—

The White House has now issued a correction that Conan is, as General McKenzie had previously said, male.


Contact the author: joe@thedrive.com

Joseph Trevithick Avatar

Joseph Trevithick

Deputy Editor

Joseph has been a member of The War Zone team since early 2017. Prior to that, he was an Associate Editor at War Is Boring, and his byline has appeared in other publications, including Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defense Journal, Reuters, We Are the Mighty, and Task & Purpose.