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Of Captains and rifle platoons (update)
Posted by: McQ on Friday, February 22, 2008

In last night's debate, Barack Obama, apparently wanting to get in the swing of sounding like the Commander-in-Chief, threw this little beauty out there:
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.
Now I mentioned it last night during the live blogging and threw the BS flag, but stuff was moving so fast I didn't have time to dwell on it.

First some simple facts. Captains don't command rifle platoons. Lieutenants do. Mostly 2nd LTs. And if they're not available, the Platoon Sergeant is in charge.

The only platoon I know of which a Captain would command is an aviation platoon. But we're talking specifically about a rifle platoon here, per Obama.

No way, no how, is a Captain commanding one.

Secondly, you don't split platoons like that, except, perhaps within a company and only during operations when you want to reinforce another platoon or the like.

But sending part to Afghanistan and part to Iraq?

No way, no how is that happening.

Perhaps a company would be detached to reinforce another battalion, but that's not probable in terms of sending it to another theater of operations.

But here's the important point - he didn't know any better. He had no understanding that it was all nonsense. That should terrify you.

And then we have the "capturing Taliban weapons" for resupply bit. Uh, really? So we have half a platoon commanded by a captain on its own in Afghanistan without enough humvees, weapons and ammo having to capture weapons from the bad guys in order to fight?

Whoa, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Rambo are jealous. And that's pretty much the realm in which this story or "anecdote" belongs.

But again, he didn't know enough about it to know that.

The explanation?
After the debate Obama advisor David Axlerod told Stephen Spruiell:
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.
Uh huh ... and his staff didn't know a BS story when it heard one either.

Wonderful.

UPDATE: Jake Tapper does some digging and comes up with some plausible answers. But still evident is the fact that Obama and his staff really didn't understand how it all worked and thus completely mangled the anecdote.

As Tapper explains, the platoon was commanded by an LT who was later, obviously, promoted to CPT. He was complaining about not having his platoon filled prior to deployment (those who were supposed to come to his platoon were assigned elsewhere instead - welcome to reality, I had a platoon exactly the size of that particular LTs platoon). and the ammunition and equipment availability was apparently a problem in training, i.e. before they deployed with some additional problems for some crew-served weapons when they were deployed. Again, reality sucks, and you adapt.

Tapper, of course, concludes:
I find that Obama's anecdote checks out.
Uh, no, but nice try. The anecdote has a grain of truth to it, but as it was told by Barack Obama last night it isn't anywhere near what Tapper's trying to pass off as "checked out".

As one of the commenters on the Tapper thread summarizes:
So he wasn't a Captain, who didn't run out of ammunition in theater so he wasn't forced to use captured weapons, whose platoon may have been understrength because of normal turnover but certainly wasn't because platoons are 'split' against Army policy, so... even though the circumstances were misrepresented, and even though the anecdote was not representative of any actual circumstances reported by any other units... yeah... it "checks out".
Smack.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
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.
So if they were properly equipped they wouldn’t capture Taliban weapons?
 
Written By: meh
URL: http://
Here’s a link to a reporter [Jake Trapper, ABC], that actually did his job, and, well, reported. He talked to the Captain in question here:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/02/from-the-fact-3.html

And here is by far and away the best comment in regards to Obama’s...ummm, "intreptation" of the story:
So he wasn’t a Captain, who didn’t run out of ammunition in theater so he wasn’t forced to use captured weapons, whose platoon may have been understrength because of normal turnover but certainly wasn’t because platoons are ’split’ against Army policy, so... even though the circumstances were misrepresented, and even though the anecdote was not representative of any actual circumstances reported by any other units... yeah... it "checks out".
Posted by: DANEgerus | Feb 22, 2008 3:14:39 PM

The post by jake Trapper is good, but the comments are better. I hope McCain takes this little comment and beats him about the head and shoulders with it. Something along the lines of this: "If my opponent Senator Obama feels that this lack of equipment and personnel is such a problem, then why has he voted against funding everytime it’s come up for our troops? Isn’t Afgahnistan the "justified" war of the two, that all Americans support?" But that’ll never happen...
 
Written By: Wariior Needs Food Badly
URL: http://
I think you should just face the obvious fact that you stepped in it this time.
Apology and retraction is always more dignified than ass-covering spin.
 
Written By: Tano
URL: http://
Stepped in what?

What Obama said was factually incorrect and the Tapper piece confirms that.

I’ll await Obama’s apology with baited breath.

Or yours - either will do.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Apology and retraction is always more dignified than ass-covering spin.
Tano is suggesting this for Obama right? I mean, no way he’s calling out McQ... right?

WNFB... I love your quote, but would cut it short -
"If my opponent Senator Obama feels that this lack of equipment and personnel is such a problem, then why has he voted against funding every time it’s come up for our troops?"
Just as an aside - if you don’t have ammo, weapons, or vehicles, just how, exactly, are you ’capturing enemy weapons’??? Using strong language? Maybe tossing around a few caricatures of Muhammad? Crikey.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
meagain,
Thank you. I woulda made it shorter but I thought a distinction between Afghanistan and Iraq might be necessary, since Obamessiah is "Mr. Anti-war".

McQ,
Dang man, a little love here? A hat tip? Somethin’? (Or did we read the Trapper article at the same time? No worries, at any rate...)
 
Written By: Wariior Needs Food Badly
URL: http://
Or did we read the Trapper article at the same time? No worries, at any rate...
Got the link from Dale. Had written the update and posted it when I saw your comment.

But I love you anyway. ;)
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s always best to get the facts right before you throw stones.

"Senator Barack Obama yesterday defended his votes on behalf of funding the Iraq war, asserting that he has always made clear that he supports funding for US troops despite his consistent opposition to the war."

Source: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/03/22/obama_defends_votes_in_favor_of_iraq_funding/
 
Written By: BAS
URL: http://
In my opinion this is an unfounded attack on Obama — and I say this as someone who strongly disagrees with his left-wing policy positions. From the Tapper article:
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."
You have Obama, who is most likely completely clueless when it comes to things military. He, like most left-wingers, already believes that Iraq was a "distraction" to our effort in Afghanistan. He talks to a former platoon leader in Afghanistan who blames his unit’s supply problems on the Iraq War, and also mentions that they sometimes used captured Taliban equipment. This anecdote basically supports the position Obama already holds, so he repeats it to emphasize his point. I find Obama’s comments to be completely reasonable and not misreprentative, based on his preconceived notions and what he heard from that captain.
 
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
Heh ... better to leave the parodies to Joe, David.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
It’s always best to get the facts right before you throw stones.
Yes, it is:
Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton earned praise from anti-war activists but criticism from Republicans on Friday for voting against a measure to pay for the Iraq war that sets no timetables for withdrawing U.S. troops.

The two leading 2008 Democratic presidential contenders had been under heavy pressure from the party’s influential anti-war wing and from other Democratic candidates to oppose the emergency funding bill sought by President George W. Bush.
Always:
ABC News’ Teddy Davis, Jonathan Greenberger, and Donna Hunter Report: Seventy-two hours after MoveOn.org threw down the gauntlet, telling ABC News that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., needed to speak out "sooner and more vocally" in opposition to voting for an Iraq funding measure that does not include a timetable for withdrawal, both Democratic presidential contenders have done exactly that.
Better:
Three of the four Democratic senators running for president voted against the Iraq war funding bill Thursday night—Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chris Dodd. The fourth hopeful, Joe Biden, voted yes.
So now we can say, he voted against it before he voted it for it. A bit of a twist, no?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
The Captain’s name: Scott Thomas Beauchamp
 
Written By: Tim M
URL: http://
Let me see,

Obama hears from an Army Cpt. True

Captain says because of the Iraq war his rifle platoon was sent to Afghanistan at 2/3 strength. True.

Captain says they lacked ammunition and humvees. True for humvees both only rue for ammunition during training.

Captain says it was easier to use captured weapons that get parts for broken weapons. True.

Now, who should we be mad at? Obama for relaying the story. though he garbled the ammunition part, the Cpt for telling the truth, or our fearless leaders that put our soldiers in this position?

I’m an Army vet and my anger isn’t directed towards Obama or the Cpt., but for the idiots that planned and executed the plan.

I’ll vote Obama in the fall.

 
Written By: Kevin
URL: http://
Obama heard from no one, his staff did.

His statement implies the CPT was "the head of a rifle platoon". He was a LT when he was in charge of the rifle platoon.

They lacked ammo in training, not in Afghanistan.

They didn’t capture Taliban weapons because the were easier to get.

You don’t get parts for our crew served weapons from captured foreign weapons.

The LT had personnel shortages prior to being deployed. It is pure conjecture that those he might have gotten (if at all) went to Iraq instead.
I’ll vote Obama in the fall.
I can see why.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
I’ve under both Clinton and Bush, and the idea that there have been more supply problems under Bush is beyond silly. Under Clinton there were periods of a year or more during which I didn’t touch a loaded rifle—and I was a rifleman.
 
Written By: vermin
URL: http://
What annoys me more than anything about this particular story is the idea that nobody in the audience or in the press has questioned him on the matter.

There’s no question in my mind that this is part and parcel of the "Easy time" Obama has been getting from the press of late. net he offers up regurgitated crap should be a surprise to nobody. He’s a Democrat. Far more dangerous, however, is that the news people whose job it is to question such matters, instead simply re-regurgitate it.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
*SIGH*

It’s fake but accurate time all over again. It doesn’t matter if the actual anecdote is factually true or not. This is the line Obama and his sheep (all the Dem sheep) believe, this is the line they’re peddling, and this is THE LINE, get it? Every single Dem (and medio for that matter) at the debate heard this babble, and shook their heads and muttered "yes, yes, yes" and absolutely had their notions validated by their new love-affair figure.

Obama is such a lightweight it’s stunning really. I really wonder if people won’t catch on to his act until it’s too late. He’s got the early earmarks of a 1-term presidency, once people figure out that Obama’s "change" is phony rhetoric.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Clue phone Senator Obama, it’s for you.

Don’t you understand that every word you utter will be fact checked on the internet within an hour after it comes out of your mouth? Because if you don’t, it’s going to be a long, long campaign, with no prize for you at the end.
 
Written By: peter jackson
URL: www.liberalcapitalist.com
His statement implies the CPT was "the head of a rifle platoon". He was a LT when he was in charge of the rifle platoon.
Oooooh. You got him on that one McQ. The captain in charge of the rifle platoon in the story is a captain, and was in charge of a rifle platoon, but when he ran the platoon he was still an LT. What $%^*ing liar.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
You know, I’ve heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon ...
Quit whining retif - above are Obama’s words, not mine. And, of course it is exactly as I characterized it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Let me see if I can fix it:
You know, I’ve heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon five years ago — supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because there were 24 men in the platoon.

And as a coincidence, they didn’t have enough ammunition to train because Congress didn’t budget for it, they didn’t have enough Humvees because they were a light company and weren’t supposed to have them issued. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because that was their mission, and they used a couple of them because they were convenient.
Yeah, that’s the same thing.
 
Written By: Phelps
URL: http://phelps.donotremove.net

 
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