Obama line about horses, bayonets fails fact-check

David Martosko Executive Editor
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In a debate exchange Monday night that set Twitter on fire, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney crossed swords over the kinds of equipment and materials the U.S. military uses for modern warfare.

In a response to Romney’s barb that Obama has allowed the U.S. Navy’s inventory of battleships to approach a historic low mark, Obama snarked that “we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.”

But horses and bayonets both remain vital parts of the U.S. arsenal.

The Daily Caller won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow award this year for a war report about the American soldiers who — riding on horseback — were the first U.S. forces to fight in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attacks. (RELATED VIDEO: Secret mission: The Horse Soldiers of 9/11)

And bayonets remain a fixture in Army infantry training and deployment. Since 1984, “around 400,000 M9s [bayonets] have been procured,” the Washington Times reports.

On August 6 a blogger at the Gizmodo technology website reported that the military was trading in bayonets for a “tomahawk”-like hand-to-hand combat weapon, but it later emerged that the source of that erroneous report was Duffelblog — a military spoof website modeled on The Onion.

“I think Gov. Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works,” Obama claimed Monday night.

“You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”


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