Saturday, February 23, 2008

Obama Gets Caught In Yet Another Whopper

In the last Democratic debate, Barack Obama let fly with another of his homely little anecdotes that once again proves that when it comes to the military, he is not only clueless but not even a decent fabricator:

"You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon--supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough Humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief."

The milbloggers had a great time debunking this horse manure.

Stuart Koehl at The Weekly Standard:

Well, captains command companies, not rifle platoons. A rifle platoon is normally commanded by a 2nd lieutenant, sometimes (if short handed) by a senior sergeant. So for starters, Obama betrays a woeful ignorance of military organization and the chain of command. Then he remarks that the platoon was under-strength because 15 of its men had been "sent to Iraq." Sorry, the Army doesn't work that way. Platoons are organic units, consisting of three rifle squads, a heavy weapons squad, and a headquarters section. You can't break it up. It is the smallest building block in the infantry that can conduct fire-and-movement tactics.

So, no matter what, if the Army needed to shift men from Afghanistan to Iraq, it would have done so either by detaching the whole platoon, or, more likely, an entire company from its parent battalion, because a company is an administrative as well as a tactical unit, and believe me, the Army would sooner fight with one hand tied behind its back than create administrative hassles for itself.

Maybe the captain was commanding something other than a rifle platoon--perhaps a company headquarters unit, or an intelligence or communications unit, or some other small specialist unit, but in that case, the loss of troops is not nearly as critical as Obama's story implies. "High-Demand/Low-Density" specialists are always being moved around because there just aren't enough of them to go around. Period. It's a chronic problem not just in the military, but in civilian life as well.

The idea that our guys were scrounging weapons and ammo because they were short is ludicrous. How much ammo you carry is done on a "per man" basis in the infantry--each solder carries a "basic load," which is backed up by reserve supplies at company, battalion, and above. It is possible to run out of ammunition, temporarily, in the midst of an intense firefight... Weapons like the M4 Carbine, the M16A3 rifle, and especially the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) can burn through ammo like fire through dry tinder. Since each man carries perhaps 200 rounds into a firefight (about six or seven magazines), he can easily expend it all in a matter of minutes (which is the reason the Army teaches fire discipline).

To the best of my knowledge, no U.S. forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq ever ran out of ammunition for more than a few hours at most. When you consider that we were operating in Afghanistan at the tenuous end of a 8,000 mile supply line, that's pretty impressive.

Another leetle problem with Obama's story was pointed out by Ace of Spades - that the ammo is different in the AK47 and the M-16, and that in order for all those Taliban weapons to work,our warriors would have to be capturing loads of 7.62 ammo to go with it:

Just So I Understand This... But Afghanistan is apparently awash in NATO 5.56mm ammunition, which can be used to load NATO guns, if only it can be taken (via fisticuffs, I imagine) from the local Afghan warlords and Taliban fighters?

Really? NATO 5.56mm, huh? In a third world country? A third world country with tons of AK-47s and AK-74s because it is 1) a third world country and 2) a former conquest off the Soviet Union?

But they're, like, completely stocked with NATO 5.56mm rounds over there, huh?



As with all of the other nonsense he's been caught in, Senator Obama has his usual 'explanation'. According to Obama spokesmouth David Axelrod,Obama didn't actually speak to the anonymous captain,but "That was a discussion that a captain in the military had with our staff, and he asked that that be passed along to Senator Obama."

Obama should stick to vague promises of `hope and change'..every time he actually tries to put some substance behind the mindless platitudes,the mask slips.

People get the kind of government they deserve. If we elect this charlatan, we'll deserve what we get.


Fritz J. said...

While I very much dislike Obama's policies and think even Hillary would be a better president, on this one I'll have to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. Jake Tapper posted on it and according to him he got the name of the captain and talked with him and says the captain sounded credible and backs up Obama's statements. Having said that, to me Tapper's investigation seemed pretty light to me and I'm still far from totally convinced that the story is accurate. According to his blog Tapper only talked with the captain and so we have only one person telling the story. You can argue that Obama's workers should have done a better job of vetting the story, but I don't think Obama lied in this instance. Whether or not the captain is lying or simply spinning the story in the worst possible light I don't know, but even if part of it is true I think there is much we have not heard that would make it appear somewhat different. There is the possibility that the captain is dead right, but several things lead me to be skeptical of that. I hope it is fully investigated because if it is true I want things changed to where it can't happen again. Our soldiers deserve better than that. In the meantime I'll give Obama a pass and confine my skepticism to the captain.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Fritz,
Either it's true or it's not. If there are doubts in terms of the facts, perhaps someone running for CEO and commander in chief might have the basic intelligence to keep his yap shut unless he knows what he's talking about. But of course, that's not how Obama works, and I've provided several links from past instances to prove it.

You didn't provide a link to this Jake Tepper fella, so I'll take your word for it that he talked to the captain in question, but that doesn't change the way the army works or the facts on the ground, as given in the milblogs' responses to this bilge.

I seem to recall another military officer who actually ran for president in the not too distant past who testified in front of Congress back in the
1970's and had a number of things to say about atrocities our military supposedly committed in Vietnam that turned out to be bogus as well.

I trust you know whom I'm talking about.

Obama bought this stuff and repeated it because it fits in with his views on the military and national defense. Nobody held a gun to his head and made him say it.

All Best,

Fritz J. said...

Jake Tapper is an ABC news reporter with a blog at
Based on Mr. Tapper's blog I think it likely that Obama got sold a bill of goods and simply repeated it which is not a lie as your use of the word "Whopper," implies.

I'm more worried about his semi-fascist economic policies than whether or not he got taken in by some alleged captain in the military. If you read his position papers at Obama '08, and listen to him, the only way he could accomplish his goals is through a fascist government. And don't equate WW2 and the Holocaust with fascism. While fascist governments did them, it was not fascism itself that required those governments to do them. Fascism is simply a form of government which is slightly less than a socialist dictatorship. and operates primarily by regulating enterprise. Through a fascist system he could make sure that CEO's were paid less, oil companies had lower profits, and health care would be mandated through regulations upon business. For example he could force businesses to pay health insurance, or he could force them to raise wages to where people had sufficient funds to pay for it, or he could simply tax businesses enough for the government to pay for it. He also seems to think it perfectly acceptable to force people to report anything they think might be suspicious or in violation of the law as he states in his economic policies. The last times we had such conditions it resulted in the Salem witch trials and McCarthyism.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is don't fall into the same trap the far left has fallen into. The word lie has a very specific definition and by using the word whopper you imply a lie, something I don't think there is evidence to support in this instance. I do think he and his staff are guilty of not vetting sufficiently, and there should also be hearings on the matter to make sure it does not happen in the future whether or not it happened in the past. I also suspect his captain will turn out to be much like John Kerry or Scott Thomas Beauchamp and that the story is at worst a lie and at best a distortion of what happened, but even so I think we need to look into it if for no other reason than to push back against those who slander the military. In short, Obama has plenty of flaws to attack without resorting to the tactics of the left in which they scream that anyone who is ever wrong is a liar.

Freedom Fighter said...

I appreciate your point, Fritz.I also despise the tendency to demonize people in public life.

However,inthis particular case please note that Obama says HE talked to this captain directly.Either he did, or he didn't and to have his people temporize by saying he was merely 'repeating something that should have been vetted more closely' is a pretty large stretch of the truth...not to mention that he should no better than to repeat something like this without checking it or at least ID'ing it as speculation or opinion. If I did that here on this site NOBODY would want to read it - and they'd be right.

I also agree that Obama's economic policies are essentially fascist. With raising FICA, uncapping the Social Security tax and raising the taxes on investments and dividends, there are estimates that in high tax states like New York and California we will see overall rates of 60-70%..just like in the Carter era.

All Best,

Fritz J. said...

FF, I agree that you have a point on the he said he talked with the captain. However, the majority of you post dealt with refuting the captain's story itself and you only mentioned that towards the end which is why I questioned you on it.

Of course one could write a lengthy post about all the times Obama has tried to shift the blame for things to his staff. While I may have missed it, I don't recall any instances of him taking responsibility for a gaff, but instead he has always managed to blame it on his staff not understanding or communicating. But then politicians, particularly those on the left, have a habit of doing that.

Freedom Fighter said...

Fair enough!

Anonymous said...

the captain's name is lucy ramirez.