Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pentagonal Politics

Bump and Update:
Gen. George Casey, the Army's chief of staff, said Tuesday he has no reason to doubt Barack Obama's recent account by an Army captain that a rifle platoon in Afghanistan didn't have enough soldiers or weapons.
Original post:
During the Texas Democratic debate
Barack Obama [said] the war in Iraq, which he opposes, has pulled troops away from Afghanistan and left soldiers there without proper equipment.
"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," Obama 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.
Now Obama's point is so obviously true you just know the wrongwingers will swiftboat tiny details to make it seem as if the whole thing was made up.

And the AP article quoted above, which complained about Obama not giving the captain's name, is true to form by not even bothering to quote anyone:
"A platoon does not have to consist of 39, but can have between 16 to 40 soldiers, according to standard Army unit organization. It is also commanded by a lieutenant and not a captain."
ABC's Jake Tapper talked to Obama's source, and after noting the wrongwing sites and their swiftboating, wrote
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.
It's worth reading the rest, and in an odd way, so are the comments.

Even the Pentagon got involved in the pushback:
Pentagon doubts Obama account of equipment problem

"I find that account pretty hard to imagine," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.

"Despite the stress that we readily acknowledge on the force, one of the things that we do is make sure that all of our units and service members that are going into harm's way are properly trained, equipped and with the leadership to be successful," he said.
OK, the wrongwingers are relying on Swiftboat 101, attack a tiny detail and ignore the truth of the point: the war in Iraq has pulled troops away from Afghanistan and left soldiers there without proper equipment.

But the Pentagon attacked the truth of the point. And that's just hypocritical.

Soldiers, officers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, generals, governors of states that needed their National Guard to respond to natural disasters, all have made Obama's same point.

Examples: 18/09/2003 Troops shortage may force US to quit Balkans
4/22/2004 Troop buildup in Iraq exposes critical shortages
1/30/2007 Boosting U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500 would create major logistical hurdles for the Army and Marine Corps
3/30/2007 The military is so short of equipment that it will take years after the war in Iraq ends to bring it up to authorized levels, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs told a House subcommittee Thursday.

Families have to hold bake sales for body armor.
There were ammunition shortages.
During the conduct of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2003, there were several reports of ammunition shortages experienced by combat units.
Even police departments are short of ammo due to the war.

Our military is stretched so thin it has had to hire more contractors to work in Iraq than they have soldiers.

Our troops were improperly equipped for the invasion.
Our troops were improperly equipped for the occupation.
Our troops were improperly taken care of mentally and physically if they returned home.

But of course none of that matters because Barack Obama said an Army captain told him a rifle platoon should have 39 members.

To paraphrase former SecDef Rumsfeld, you go to war because of the politicians you have, not the politicians you wish you had.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak