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Platoon

By ThinkProgress

"Platoon"

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Conservatives have been all over Barack Obama (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here) for telling the following anecdote during last night’s debate:

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.

Basically, as you can see if you check the conservative blogs above, that story can’t possibly be true, and the fact that Obama would say it reflects either his dishonesty or else his gross ignorance of military matters. Alternatively, you can read Jake Tapper who got in touch with the Captain in question: “Short answer: He backs up Obama’s story.” The story itself is, as Tapper says, pretty interesting and worth checking out on its own merits. Obama’s conservative critics will, I’m sure, be taking note of this additional reporting.

UPDATE: Phil Carter has an excellent post following up on some of these issues. Bottom line:

In light of my experience in Iraq, Sen. Obama’s comments last night are eminently believable. Sen. Obama is also absolutely right to use this anecdote as a critique of the administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq. It is incontrovertible that the war in Iraq diverted scarce military resources (manpower, equipment, etc.) from Afghanistan to Iraq. The cost for that diversion was paid by America’s sons and daughters, and our Afghan brethren, who continue to fight in Afghanistan against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. We owe our troops better.

Well said.

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