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How Clueless Is Obama About The Military?

This clueless:

A platoon is the smallest unit deployed outside of [special forces] operations. Sending 24 men to one theater and 15 to another would destroy unit cohesion, leave one group without an officer and be a nightmare for the next higher unit's (the company) command, control and communication structure. You should take this story with a grain of salt -- that grain being the size of the moon.

"Ready to be CiC."


Of course, if Hillary wasn't equally clueless, she would have called him on it--she missed a huge opportunity to embarrass him. But then, it took a couple years for Bill Clinton to learn how to throw a proper salute (IIRC). And of course, she'd have probably loved to use the story herself.

[Update in late afternoon]

Despite comments, my post title stands. The fact remains that whatever the actual story, Obama told a tale in the debate last night that was implausible on its face, for reasons that many pointed out. The fact that there was an actual story that was somewhat like it (it was a Lieutenant at the time, they were split up before they were deployed, they didn't actually have to capture Taliban for their weapons, etc.) doesn't change the fact that as actually related in the debate, it was clueless about the way the military works. Someone with actual military experience would have realized this, and worded it differently (and more accurately).

And the point was never that the Obama campaign fabricated the story. It was that they didn't recognize one that seemed implausible, because they didn't have the wherewithal to recognize it as such, and it fit their political agenda (Bush is the Worst President Ever) as was, ignoring the fact that there's never been a time when troops had everything they needed, when they needed it, under any president.

Ace has more thoughts, and continues to call bovine excrement.


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Duncan Young wrote:

Phil Carter is clueless.

Jake Tapper, talking to the captain in question, is clueless.

Because something is stupid is not proof that the DoD, under Bush, did not do it.

Bill White wrote:

Rand, the officer in question was a lieutenant in Afghanistan and promoted to Captain before Obama spoke with him. Obama did speak with a captain, who had been a lieutenant in Afghanistan.

Seems pretty simple.

I called the Obama campaign this morning to chat about this story, and was put in touch with the Army captain in question.

He told me his story, which I found quite credible, though for obvious reasons he asked that I not mention his name or certain identifying information.

Short answer: He backs up Obama's story.

The longer answer is worth telling, though.

The Army captain, a West Point graduate, did a tour in a hot area of eastern Afghanistan from the Summer of 2003 through Spring 2004.

Prior to deployment the Captain -- then a Lieutenant -- took command of a rifle platoon at Fort Drum. When he took command, the platoon had 39 members, but -- in ones and twos -- 15 members of the platoon were re-assigned to other units. He knows of 10 of those 15 for sure who went to Iraq, and he suspects the other five did as well.

The platoon was sent to Afghanistan with 24 men.

"We should have deployed with 39," he told me, "we should have gotten replacements. But we didn't. And that was pretty consistent across the battalion."

Raoul Ortega wrote:

Ain't it wonderful how in less than 24 hours the Obama campaign can get Captain Beauchamp in touch with Tapper to shill for them? And if you read Tapper's account, you've got to admire Barry-O's ability to "lie by telling the truth creatively." I guess it's a sort of a reverse "fake but accurate" infused with Hope and Change.

Karl Hallowell wrote:

Ok, I don't see the story here any more. Sure, Obama doesn't know the military and exaggerated somewhat a tale he or a staffer heard a few years ago. But upon inspection, the details of the tale seem to be verified well enough to indicate this wasn't a fabrication by the Obama camp. I assume that this matter will be investigated in depth, but I'll need to see more than vapid accusations against either Obama or this captain.

Seeker wrote:

So it seems Obama wasn't clueless at all. For more on how not clueless he is, check out:

Mark wrote:

"the point was never that the Obama campaign fabricated the story. It was that they didn't recognize one that seemed implausible, because they didn't have the wherewithal to recognize it as such"

Exactly. On the subject of space exploration, I remember back in the 1970s listening to a network newsman reporting on some probe we'd sent to swing around Saturn, who remarked that the planet Saturn had been discovered by Galileo (!). There as here, the person talking was displaying ignorance that went beyond the error itself, because anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the subject should have recognized the error immediately.

Steve wrote:

I think what's missing here is the TIME LINE.

While all the elements seem credible, they didn't all happen in a 15 minute or even 30 day time span.

The Captain most likely did command a rifle company at one point, that's the normal way it's done alright.

There were 39 men at one point, 25 of whom deployed with him.

He says that the rest went to Iraq,

He says that he had to scrounge guns and ammunition at some point.

What he never said was,

"...and on October 13, 2003, as a Captain I was ordered to Afghanistan, before we deployed, the Army split my platoon, sending 25 of us to Afghanistan, and 14 of us to Iraq. Upon arriving in Afghanistan we were short of guns and ammunition, and had to kill AQ members to keep fighting."

THAT is the way it sounded to me, from Obama, and THAT, to my mind, is the way he wanted it to sound. Bottom line, he wanted togive the impression that GWB sucks at being a CinC. He left out the part about GWB not holding the purse strings, to affect deployments and needed supplies directly.

But the average voter is a goon who knows no better.

Mike Gerson wrote:

Rand knows squat about the military. Read this:

He should take a trip to Afghanistan or even better to Iraq, take a break from his fighting keyboard.

Mike Gerson wrote:

Rand is an idiot who knows squat about the military. Read this:

Mike Puckett wrote:

No Mike, you are an idiot for swallowing the crap at that link you posted.

And I do know a bit about hte military. I even know a bit about logistical issues and how the relate to the military.

I also still find it damn hard to belive a rifle platoon would deploy to a combat zone more than a third understrength.

If the whole battalion was that understrength, they would be in a non-deployable status. If it was only one platoon, they would have shifted at least a few men to get it up to strength or they would have been stuck in the FOB burning off shitters until they recieved sufficient replacements.

Brian wrote:

On first listen it seems improbable, for a rifle platoon.

I was a member of a platoon in 2nd Comm Btn that was regularly broken up into detachments and deployed. Commanded by a captain, at that. This happens with specialty units.

Mike Puckett wrote:

Speciality units? I can easily see that. But for a Rifle Platoon, it is far more than an org chart.

Fire and Maneuver elements that require certain individual and crew-served weapons to be in a certain place at a certain time? No.

Duncan Young wrote:

"You know, I've heard from an Army captain true
who was the head of a rifle platoon-- true
supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. true
Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 apparently true
because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq. at least ten of them, with the other five.
And as a consequence, they didn't have enough ammunition, they didn't have enough humvees. true
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." true - they were using Taliban AK-47s to arm their vehicles

Steve, reread the transcript. The captain approached Obama for a reason.

And Rand now appears to adopted the old John Ford quote: "If you have to choose between the fact and the legend, print the legend". It certainly would appear to be clueless to argue that OIF is having no logistical impact on OEF.

BTW: Obama has received more donations from active duty personal than any other candidate.

Duncan Young wrote:


It is now seems that the Patriots won the Superbowl, as going on fourth and 13 when you are within field goal distant is implausible.


Thank you Rand, you saved my season.


I would like to throw my two cents in here. I am with the Kansas Army National Guard. Have deployed with Army National Guard and Active Army units alike. I have worked at company, battalion, brigade and division levels. It has happened on more then one occasion for a unit, regardless of size or echelon, to be broken down into what the DoD and not what the President believes to be in its best interests. I have deployed with a brigade sized element, that was actually all personnel from a division. I have deployed as a 17 man back fill unit to a brigade sized element, that was really a battalion, reinforced. I have deployed with a battery(artillery term for a company sized element) that was filled with soldiers from four different batterys, because we didnt have on battery that had enough soldiers organic to that battery to do the mission.

And as far as supplies and logistics go, we have left body armor in Iraq for the incoming soldiers as we left. I have taken body armor home from other deployments, because it was issued to me by a central issuing facility and not by my units supply clerks. I have had more ammo then I could ever shoot in a year, and I have had not enough ammo to get me through even a shoot fire fight. But the president has nothing to do with this. ITS CONGRESS and their budget oversight committees. Its politics as normal. The Air Force wants leather seats in the aircraft for high ranking officers to ride in comfort, but airmen cant even get replacement boots. The Army wants a new high tech whiz-bang program for command and control, but we cant afford better rifles for soldiers on the ground. The Navy has approriated more money then most Third world countries, for an aircraft carrier, but sailors live in substandard housing.

Pleas dont get me wrong, I love my country and the military. Its the politics of the government and the military that irritate me.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on February 22, 2008 10:11 AM.

Could It Get Any Better? was the previous entry in this blog.

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