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US Troops Scavenging Weapons?

12:39 AM, Feb 22, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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During tonight's debate, Barack Obama related this stunning 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. 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.

As soon as the Senator made the claim he looked as though he knew he'd gone too far. The Corner reports the campaign is already backtracking. 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.

So Obama never actually spoke with the captain, which means he can reasonably claim the tale was garbled in transmission. It is possible that an American unit was ill-equipped for combat, these things happen in the fog of war (as do bullshit stories), and they have happened with troubling frequency in this war as in every other. Which is not to diminish any failure on the part of the administration or the military leadership in providing U.S. forces with the equipment they need. But is this particular story true?

Our troops never rotate into theater before running through a series of inspections which ensure that they're properly equipped, and we've never heard a report of soldiers having to scrounge for ammo. If we did, we'd join the Senator in raising hell. In Obama's telling the blame lies with President Bush, but the story is perfectly vague and based on nothing but hearsay. We expect there will be a lot of folks that want to get to the bottom of this, whether the facts supports Obama's version or not.

More from Hot Air and Ace.