Obama’s Story Checks Out


During last night’s debate Obama told the following anecdote (video above):

“I 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 that’s a consequence of bad judgment, and you know, the question is on the critical issues that we face right now who’s going to show the judgment to lead. And I think that on every critical issue that we’ve seen in foreign policy over the last several years — going into Iraq originally, I didn’t just oppose it for the sake of opposing it. I said this is going to distract us from Afghanistan; this is going to fan the flames of anti- American sentiment; this is going to cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and overstretch our military, and I was right.”

Multiple right wing bloggers, who believe they are experts on all things involving the military because they are true blue conservatives, have written all sort of reasons why this could not be true and that Obama is lying. There is one problem with their theories. Reality seems to have that old liberal bias yet once again. Jack Tapper fact checked the story:

Conservatives have weighed in on this story, many of them challenging its veracity (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.)

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.”

He adds that maybe a half-dozen of the 15 were replaced by the Fall of 2003, months after they arrived in Afghanistan, but never all 15.

As for the weapons and humvees, there are two distinct periods in this, as he explains — before deployment, and afterwards.

At Fort Drum, in training, “we didn’t have access to heavy weapons or the ammunition for the weapons, or humvees to train before we deployed.”

What ammunition?

40 mm automatic grenade launcher ammunition for the MK-19, and ammunition for the .50 caliber M-2 machine gun (“50 cal.”)

“We weren’t able to train in the way we needed to train,” he says. When the platoon got to Afghanistan they had three days to learn.

They also didn’t have the humvees they were supposed to have both before deployment and once they were in Afghanistan, the Captain says.

“We should have had 4 up-armored humvees,” he said. “We were supposed to. But at most we had three operable humvees, and it was usually just two.”

So what did they do? “To get the rest of the platoon to the fight,” he says, “we would use Toyota Hilux pickup trucks or unarmored flatbed humvees.” Sometimes with sandbags, sometimes without.

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.

The Captain has spoken to Sen. Obama, he says, but this anecdote was relayed to Obama through an Obama staffer.

I find that Obama’s anecdote checks out.

Some are quibbling about whether or not the “commander in chief” can be held responsible for how well our soldiers are being equipped, since Congress provides the funding for the military, but the Pentagon (and ultimately President Bush) are in charge of the funding mechanism.

I might suggest those on the blogosphere upset about this story would be better suited directing their ire at those responsible for this problem, which is certainly not new. That is, if they actually care about the men and women bravely serving our country at home and abroad.


  1. 1
    Eric Dondero says:

    Obama’s story checks out only in the minds of ultra-liberal Bloggers and the leftwing media merchents like NBC, ABC, CBS, Newsweek and the like.

    He completely and utterly fabricated this entire story. What’s worse, it’s a great insult to those who have served bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting against Al Qaeda.

    It will be a dark day indeed for the United States Military if this guy is Commander in Chief.

    Eric Dondero – USN (hon.)

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    How could you possibly say that Obama fabricated the story when the officer who told Obama the story has come forward? Your argument makes absolutely no sense, but what can you expect from someone who considers “NBC, ABC, CBS, Newsweek” to be “leftwing media merchents.”

    Obama is not insulting anyone who served bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is insulting those who sent men to fight without providing them with adequate supplies.

  3. 3
    Eric Dondero says:

    You’re right Ron, I stand corrected. NBC, ABC, CBS, Newsweek, like Obama could be more aptly described as “Fascist” rather than simply “leftwing.” Their platforms lead to more and more and more and more big government. Which eventuall leads to complete control by the State.

    Remember – Hussein Obama’s voting record is a perfect 100 according to the Marxist ADA.

    As a great 1980s punk band once said, when it comes to Obama, WELCOME TO 1984.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:


    Two problems with your argument.

    The ADA is not Marxist and Obama didn’t receive a perfect 100 from them.

  5. 5
    justin d says:

    presedent obama will change the world and every body knoes it so thats why i voted for MR.OBAMA because since the day i asw him i new he was going to be the next presedent of the united states of amierica soo that the people can vote for you and i even made out some ting of asking kids at school who they were voting for and 98% of the students voted for you and i keeped on telling them that if there parents whent to vote that they whent and voted for you. And another thing i whanted to tell you that to try to put the econamy good becuase my familly is running out of money. And by the computer i’am writing my cousain’s computer and gave it to us because he was getting a new one. So MR.OBAMA please never be afraid because like you said and what i said too was and what other prople said      WE   CAN   DO  IT. And i congracilate you to be the first african amirecan priesdent of the united states of amierica good luck bieng the priesedent.

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