Obama on rifles

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In a CNN Democratic primary debate in Austin, Texas, Barack Obama claimed that poor presidential leadership on President Bush's part was resulting in shortages of weapons for US troops, who had to use captured Taliban weapons to supply the shortfall.

"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," Obama told CNN moderator Campbell Brown.

"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," he added.

ABC News claims to have verified Obama’s story by speaking to the Army captain who was his actual source.[1]

But General Casey, Army Chief of Staff, disputed Obama's conclusions:

Casey said he had "no reason to doubt what it is the captain says," (that a rifle platoon in Afghanistan didn't have enough soldiers or weapons). But he questioned the assertion that the shortages prevented the troops from doing their job.

The officer did not mention any shortage of rifles.