STUART, Fla. — Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) knows a thing or two about how the U.S. military uses bayonets, because he sent soldiers into battle with them in Iraq.
Speaking to about 100 senior citizens Tuesday afternoon in this golfing and retirement community, West joined legions of conservatives and Republicans criticizing President Obama’s performance during Monday night’s presidential debate on foreign policy and seized especially on the exchange between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney over the declining strength of the U.S. Navy.
“I can tell you that when I was a battalion commander, we did still issue bayonets to our troops when we deployed to Iraq in 2003. The second thing I will tell you is that in 2001, Special Forces soldiers were on horseback riding with the Northern Alliance to fight against the Taliban,” West said. “So obviously we have a president who does not understand the full capabilities and capacities and what we do in the United States military.”
During the debate, Obama responded to Romney’s concerns about U.S. naval power by noting that “we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.”
Obama never said that bayonets were nonexistent — only that they are far less prevalent than they used to be. Indeed, as The Post noted Monday night, the U.S. Marines still train with bayonets in boot camp.
West is a freshman GOP lawmaker and former Army lieutenant colonel running for reelection in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 2004 amid questions about his handling of the interrogation of an Iraqi military official. Questions about his military service are dominating his reelection campaign (more on that here in 2chambers, tomorrow).
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