When I head Barack Obama’s remark last night about the Army captain in Afghanistan who was leading a platoon at not much more than half-strength that was scavenging enemy weapons due to supply problems, I had two reactions:
1. What a perfect anecdote to make his points: that Iraq had forced us to take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, and that the uber-hawks in the Bush administration had FUBAR’d the military.
2. What the hell is a captain doing leading a platoon? Isn’t that a lieutenant’s job? And are the wingnuts going to come after Obama for (1) fibbing and (2) not understanding basic facts about the military?
Well, the answer to the wingnuts-attacking question is “Yes.” However, Jake Tapper of ABC News managed to get in touch with the actual captain, who verifies the while story. (Phil Carter gets additional confirmation from two other platoon leaders in Afghanistan.)
Yes, there are serious shortages of materiel in Afghanistan. (Carter, who served in Buqbah, says that the same thing is true in Iraq, partly because the fancy gear stays on the Forward Operating Bases and doesn’t get to the guys at the sharp end of the spear.) And yes, 15 of the 39 soldiers in the platoon he led got reassigned before the unit was shipped to Afghanistan, at least 10 of them to units headed for Iraq. And no, he isn’t leading a platoon now: he’s a captain now, but in the period he was talking about he was a lieutenant.
Of course, I’m relieved. This could have been the sort of tiny error that wrecks a candidate’s credibility. But what’s striking is the unwillingness of the residents of the Wingnutosphere to let go of the idea that the candidate they dislike is a fool and a fabulist.