Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


The would-be Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, had this to say during tonight'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. 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.

So American soldiers are shooting back with Soviet-made Kalashnikovs...?

Do individual soldiers get assigned based on who draws the shortest straw? 24 to Afghanistan, 15 to Iraq, another 2 to Disney Land?

Welcome to amateur hour.

Sidenote (February 26, 2008):

Obama is ethnically Somali, right? His family is from the Somali minority that lives along the Kenya-Somalia border, right? And Somalia is a member of the Arab League, right? And we were all taught in school that Somalia is part of the Arab world, and that Somalis are our fellow Arabs, right?

So doesn't this make Barrack Obama an Arab-American, more so than an African-American? If one is an "ethnic" or "cultural" Arab from Africa, like the majority of Arabs are, doesn't that make one an Arab before being an African?

I was born in Nigeria, but I can't really go around calling myself an African, right? Now, granted I don't know much about Somalia beyond what our Arab Nationalist curricula drilled into my head all throughout my schooling and watching Black Hawk Down. And I can't understand the language spoken by most Somalis, and when talking to me (DC is full of Somalis) they usually revert to classical Arabic, but that's also true of Moroccans and Algerians. Yet it is quite a remarkable thing for the Middle East to consider that not only is Obama is rooted in Islamic heritage, but that he could be an Arab to boot!


A friend of Talisman Gate tells me that although some accounts have suggested that Obama's family had roots in the Somali-speaking east of Kenya and had relocated a generation ago to the shores of Lake Victoria and assimilated within Luo culture, Obama himself has never corroborated those accounts--dressing-up as a Somali notwithstanding. So, pending a genealogical breakdown, we can't definitively conclude that Obama is an Arab. (Sigh).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama is full of bullshit.He opposed the war in Iraq because that was the position taken by the extreme left in America and Obama grew up in that tradition. His childhood mentor in Hawaii was a Communist. It wasn't his "right judgement" that opposed the war, it was his leftist politics.

8:58 AM, February 22, 2008

Blogger Soldier's Dad said...


Except for the kalishnikov comments...this isn't as insane as one thinks.

Army Reserve and National guard soldiers are subject to "Active Duty for a period of up to 2 years in the event of a national emergency".

A fairly sizable piece of the Army Reserve and National guard units have never been at more than 80% manning.

As an example
The New York National Guard is ordered to deploy...they end up being 20% short of being fully manned...so they borrow 20% from the New Jersey National Guard. All is fine and good the NY NG deploys with 100% manning.

Then comes time for the NJ National Guard to deploy..they started at 80% manning..but then 20% of their Soldiers already used up their 2 year "Activation Clock" deployed with the NY National Guard...so now they are at 60% manning.

So it actually became quite common that NG units would deploy with 40 or 50% because so many had used up their activation clocks deployed with other units.

9:08 AM, February 22, 2008

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi soldier's dad,

Is it common military practice to break-up platoons and have the various squads fight in different theatres of war?

Has Obama ever travelled to Afghanistan? And if not, then where did he meet this rifle platoon captain?



9:52 AM, February 22, 2008

Blogger CMAR II said...


It might happen. But Obama's elaboration that this in itself is causing the squad to lack equipment and that they are using Taliban weapons makes the whole story smell to high heaven.

Now, this kind of scenario is just red meat to Obama's ignorant core supporters. I can imagine Obama-The-Human-Flag just making up crap that he knows his people want to here. That's just everyday politics.

The real scandal is that virtually NO ONE is questioning this B.S.

12:46 PM, February 22, 2008

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi all,

To CNN's credit, the Blitzer show checked out Obama's claims and here are the results (...Obama doesn't come out looking any better):


Did Obama Exaggerate Army Captain's Story; Did Clinton Win Any Obama Supporters After the Texas Debate?

Aired February 22, 2008 - 17:00 ET


BLITZER: No sooner did he say it in last night's presidential debate then blogs began attacking it - Barack Obama's anecdote about a U.S. army captain's deployment to Afghanistan without enough troops, training and weapons.

We asked our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, to check the facts -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the question is did Barack Obama correctly characterize what an army captain said? And is it accurate? And does it support his argument that the invasion of Iraq took resources from the war in Afghanistan?

So, CNN got in touch with the army captain in question with help from the Obama campaign. He requested anonymity because he's still on active duty. But the short answer is Barack Obama got the gist of the anecdote right, although he missed some important nuance. But let's start with what Obama said in last night's CNN Democratic debate.


OBAMA: 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.


MCINTYRE: OK, here's what the captain said. "Fifteen soldiers with not sent as a group to Iraq." He said, "We lost 15 through normal reassignment and they were not replaced. Many of those 15 ended up in units going to Iraq, but I can't say all 15 were there."

All of this happened five years ago in the spring and summer of 2003 during the lead up to and the invasion of Iraq. The captain was a first lieutenant then and his rifle company from Fort Drum, New York was sent to eastern Afghanistan. OK, back to Barack Obama.


OBAMA: As a consequence they didn't have enough ammunition. They didn't have enough Humvees.


MCINTYRE: It's true, the captain said. "There were no Humvees with" at Fort Drum and "not sufficient ammunition" for training before they left. So he said they had to go do that after they got to Afghanistan and they only had three days to get up to speed.


OBAMA: 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.


MCINTYRE: With the soldiers scrounging for weapons? Well, not exactly. "The issue wasn't that we didn't have weapons. The issue was we couldn't get parts for the weapons, as they broke," the soldier told us.

So when the unit's 50-caliber machine gun broke down, he said, quote, "from the large stockpile of weapons we captured over the long tour, we took the best functioning Taliban weapons we could use and mounted that on our 50 cal."

Interesting side light. When then top commander General John Abizaid visited his front line fire base, the soldier replaced the Russian machine gun with a broken American one just for show. Now the officer is still in the army and his final comment to us was, "It made me pretty angry at the time and I'm still pretty bitter about it."

So while it's true, this unit didn't have all the troops, training and equipment this commander wanted, and that may indeed have been a result of the demands of the Iraq war, the unit was not split up and they weren't scrounging for weapons -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Jamie McIntyre, doing an excellent fact check for us. Thanks, Jamie McIntyre, our senior Pentagon correspondent.

5:57 PM, February 22, 2008

Anonymous malcolm said...

michelle obama used to think that White liberals are total hypocrites and closet-racists when it comes to the issue of White & Black:


and she's absolutely right. Never mind that this hypocrisy is the reason why White liberals are voting for her husband now!

7:05 PM, February 22, 2008

Blogger Soldier's Dad said...


In the National Guard and Reserve it was common to "borrow" soldiers from other units.

Here is a list of National Guard in Federal Status

What is known as "Individual Mobilization Augmentees" is Reserve/National Guard Soldiers/Sailers/Marines/Airmen that have been "borrowed" from other units. The total is currently about 2000 and the Pentagon has been working hard to reduce the number for at least 2 years because it creates a problem for the "lender" units when it is their turn to deploy.

My daughters unit(Army Reserve) went to Iraq in 2004 with about 40% Individual Mobilation Augmentees(borrowed soldiers)

It gets even more complicated in the Reserves because they frequently look at the Reservists "Civilian Skill Set"...I.E. Someone could be a member of a Rifle Company in the Reserves but have a day job that more specifically met a requirement...I.E..maybe a city planner or prison guard.

The Pentagon realized it had a serious problem with the reserves at some point in 2005(at least publically) and stopped the practice of "borrowong" from units whose deployment windows were fairly soon(roughly within 2 years). If we look, the major reserve deployments have already been announced thru the end of 2009. One of the justifications for 15 month active duty rotations is so the Reserves could recover from the "borrowing" problem.

9:05 AM, February 23, 2008

Blogger Iraqi Mojo said...

Interesting revelations. That is quite a photo of Obama. Nibras, do you think Obama has a Sunni bias? Am I wrong to ask such a question?

6:44 AM, February 27, 2008

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi Iraqi Mojo,

It is useful to ponder such questions. I don't think he would have a particularly anti-Shia bias, but he could have a pro-Sunni bias because his approach to foreign policy seems to be "let's all hug", and in this sense may pander to "majority" Sunni opinion (...as voiced by the media organs of a few dozen Gulf royals) in order to placate it on Iraq and elsewhere.

From what I can tell, he's simply bad news for Iraq. I think a McCain-Hillary match-up would give us a far more balanced, realistic and constructive debate on how to improve things in Iraq and build upon the victories already achieved.



9:21 AM, February 27, 2008

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