Spotted: Another Brobdingnagian FactcheckathonFebruary 22, 2008
I got the feeling that the rightosphere pulled another all-nighter, as their blogs are all abuzz over an anecdote that Obama used in last night’s Democratic debate.
First, the anecdote:
“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,” he said. “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.”
Then came the Brobdingnagian factcheckathon (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.) These bloggers called BS, because, you know, prior to last night’s debate there was no evidence whatsoever that the Iraq adventure diverted resources from the mission in Afghanistan. It’s not like the Iraq Study Group said exactly that or anything.
So, what came all this hysteria? Well, some journalist guy actually contacted the Army captain that Obama was referring to. And what do you know?
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.”
Also in Afghanistan they had issues getting parts for their MK-19s and their 50-cals. Getting parts or ammunition for their standard rifles was not a problem.
“It was very difficult to get any parts in theater,” he says, “because parts are prioritized to the theater where they were needed most — so they were going to Iraq not Afghanistan.”
“The purpose of going after the Taliban was not to get their weapons,” he said, but on occasion they used Taliban weapons. Sometimes AK-47s, and they also mounted a Soviet-model DShK (or “Dishka”) on one of their humvees instead of their 50 cal.
Oh well, perhaps now they’ll get some sleep.
Nah. There’s some BS in there somewhere. I just know it.