Oliver Stone slams British army pig shooting drills
Oscar-winning film-maker Oliver Stone wrote to Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Friday in protest at its "barbaric and shameful" shooting of live pigs in order to train military surgeons.
The US director, producer and screenwriter urged Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to end Britain's involvement in the "cruel" exercises, used to train surgeons in treating common battlefield injuries.
"Pigs are very intelligent beings -- just like the dogs and cats with whom millions of us share our homes," Vietnam War veteran Stone wrote in an e-mail to Hammond.
"Using them as targets and cutting them apart is barbaric and shameful."
Stone's letter came a week after Gideon Raff, the Israeli creator of popular US television series "Homeland", wrote to Hammond to call for a switch to more "humane and effective" practices.
In the training, formerly dubbed Operation Danish Bacon, pigs are shot at close range with high-powered rifles and are then operated on at a course in NATO facilities in Jaegerspris, Denmark.
Instead of operating on live animals, Stone voiced his support for the use of lifelike dolls that "breathe" and "bleed", which is also supported by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
"It is unscrupulous and underhanded for the MoD to outsource this unnecessary cruelty knowing full well that it would not be allowed on British soil," Stone wrote.
"The brave men and women who risk their lives to fight for our countries deserve the best possible training, and sending soldiers to participate in reprehensible exercises that inflict severe pain on pigs does not improve the preparedness of the UK's military medical teams."
The MoD last month defended the practice.
"This training provides invaluable experience, exposing our surgical teams to the specific challenges posed by the injuries of modern armed conflict," a spokeswoman said.
"This training has helped save lives on operations and by participating in the Danish exercises we minimise the overall number of animals used."
Stone has won three Oscars for films "Platoon", "Born On The Fourth Of July" and "Midnight Express".
© 2012 AFP