Homeland creator slams pigs drills
The award-winning creator of hit TV show Homeland has written to the Defence Secretary protesting against the British Army's participation in medical training involving live pigs shot by marksmen.
Gideon Raff - the former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) paratrooper behind the espionage thriller, which counts President Barack Obama among its fans - urged Philip Hammond to switch to more "humane and effective" practices.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) last month said it stood by sending British Army surgeons to take part in the drills, claiming they helped save lives on the battlefield.
Formerly known as Operation Danish Bacon, the training sees pigs shot with high-powered rifles and then operated on at a course provided in Nato facilities in Jaegerspris, Denmark.
In the letter, addressed directly to Mr Hammond via email, Mr Raff said he was joining a campaign against the practice by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).
"Caring for the wellbeing of animals and preparing the troops serving our countries are not mutually exclusive," he writes. "In this case, sparing animals pain and death in training drills means that military personnel receive better medical training and ultimately better care if they are wounded on the battlefield."
The MoD last month argued that by participating in the Danish exercises rather than replicating them in the UK, they were minimising the number of animals involved. But in his letter, Mr Raff backed Peta's call for the use of lifelike dolls that "breathe" and "bleed" to replace live animals.
He writes: "Recent research by trauma surgeons with the IDF Medical Corps found that military staff's confidence in performing lifesaving battlefield medical procedures increased when they were trained with sophisticated human simulators and after having experience with real patients - but not after completing crude animal laboratories."
Homeland this year won the Golden Globe for Best TV Drama Series and the Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series.
Mr Raff himself also won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing while British actor Damian Lewis received one for his role as lead character Sergeant Nick Brody.