So, Does the Military Still Use Bayonets?

The president's comments on old-style military weaponry prompted an outpouring of fact-checking on the Internet.

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Civil War. Young Soldiers From The Union Army.

Wow, who knew that bayonets were such a touchy subject? Conservative commentators and edged-weapon enthusiasts have leaped to the defence of every rifleman’s favorite sharp pointy thing after President Obama suggested during the presidential debate that there are fewer of them now than during the Civil War days.

During President Obama and Mitt Romney’s final presidential debate, Mr. Obama laid into the trusty weapon:

“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.”

The official Republican National Committee research department replied to the President by tweeting a link to a page on Marines.com — which notes that every Marine receives bayonet training in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) — accompanied by a photo of a soldier stabbing a pile of tires.

Dan Riker, owner of the Georgia-based military surplus outlet Bayonet, Inc., told TMZ that bayonets  “are still distributed to the military all the time” and that the President’s comment was “ignorant.”

So does the military actually still use bayonets? Some Marines were quick to defend the weapon on Twitter. But as the Wall Street Journal notes, “few Marines or soldiers ever use a bayonet and service members on patrol do not equip their rifles with bayonets.” According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Army discontinued bayonet instruction during basic training in 2010.

Indeed, hand-to-hand combat situations are fairly rare in today’s conflicts — and when they do happen they seldom involve a bayonet. Sgt. Cliff Woolridge, who received the Navy Cross earlier this year for killing a Taliban militant in hand-to-hand combat, did so, as the Journal noted, not with a bayonet but with the stock of an AK-47 assault rifle. And in 2010, a Nepalese Gurkha soldier fought off more than a dozen Afghan insurgents simultaneously, brandishing his machine gun tripod after running out of ammunition.

NewsFeed’s question is, who will speak for the horses?

MORE: How Obama Won The Foreign Policy Debate

51 comments
FrankJin
FrankJin

Obama never said the US military stops using bayonets nowadays. And of course US military doesn't use bayonet as much as before where soldiers can fire merely 3-4 rounds a minute.......

Lockgod
Lockgod

Mr. Obama wouldn't know which end of a Bayonet to hold, or which end of an aircraft carrier planes fly out of. He's the first wartime commander in chief to be neither a commander, nor a chief.

RaeReelectObamaBusch
RaeReelectObamaBusch

The President did NOT say the military does not use bayonets; he said we have FEWER of them. Tempest in a teapot, stirred by Teanderthals. Ridiculous.

ToddStephenDunmire
ToddStephenDunmire

During WWI our military  started UMT which resulted in 600,000 reserves being trained to augment the 100,000 active duty and 112,000 National Guards men......with that being said.....our current forces equate to more than 750,000 in just the Army and Marines.....although not every Soldier or Marine is issued a bayonet, they do have prepositioned war stocks that are in place so as to issue more than a Million in the case of full call up and institution of Selective Service. Know your history and know your facts before you try and spill garbage to the American public. AS for the Liberal morons on here saying the Conservatives are twisting anything is ludicrous. How about the multitude of LIES your beloved Comrade has told the nation? Get off you high horse and realize that Obama didnt act anything remotely close to that of a Statesman which represents the Nation as a whole. He was petty and immature in some of his responses.

hopalong
hopalong

As usual conservatives twist what the President said and then run with it as if what they imagined that they heard was the truth. The President at no time said that we don't use bayonets OR horses, he said that we have a lot fewer of them. Let them try until kingdom come to dispute THAT, instead of them replying to their own imaginations.

brownox
brownox

Apparently, the media doesn't understand the distinction between "fewer" and "none".

gopvictory
gopvictory

In the future, we will fight wars with bows and arrows, knives, clubs and HORSES.

CharlesMJensen
CharlesMJensen

American involvement in the Pacific Rim warrants the creation of more vessels. Romney has correctly predicted our future military involvement. I am disappointed that Americans will vote for the President based on his comedic ability when he clearly is ignorant to growing global military trends, especially in that region.

stolar
stolar

Crazy to use such nasty weapons...

UnemployedinOhio
UnemployedinOhio

Yes folks…he was making a joke.I live in Ohio and was one of the much sought out “undecided” voters. I voted Democratic last time. I’ve worked in manufacturing all of my life until my company went out of business because we couldn’t compete with China. I’ve been unemployed for 2 years and I need to feed my kids.What I don’t need is a President who makes jokes.And it’s doubly distressing to see him being egged on by a media that doesn’t even know when the Civil War was fought. The 1916 Navy being referenced was 1 year prior to WWI…the Civil War had been over for 51 years.Then I saw Joe Klein on “Morning Joe” talking about how much he knows about Ohio. What an ass.I liked what Romney said about China manipulating their currency.I’m cancelling my subscription to Time and voting for Romney.Hope you all have as much “fun” looking for a job as I do.

lru
lru

In 2001 US Special Forces fought on horseback in Afganistan. The US Special Forces has a current field manual on the use of horses, mules, donkeys, elephants and camels for military purposes. A British soldier was recently honored for leading a bayonet charge against the Taliban in 2011 in Afghanistan..His thinking reminds me of Vietnam, when F-4 fighters were built without guns because they were "obsolete", until air-to-air combat over Vietnam showed they weren't and the Air Force and Navy had to scramble to get guns back on the fighters.

ironyman2
ironyman2

A question for the sitting Commander in Chief. He's the one who brought it up.

RalphReinhold
RalphReinhold

The US Army still has some horse mounted units.  They are used only for ceremonial purposes.  Take for example: http://www.carson.army.mil/pao/community_relations.htm

But then again, the US Navy still has Old Ironsides as a commissioned warship.

I spent six years in the Army.  I had bayonet training, but I can't say that I was ever issued a bayonet outside of basic training. I last severed in 1966.

eabarth
eabarth

Wow, he said "FEWER horses and bayonets," not "NO horses and bayonets." The whole point is that Romney was discussing the number of ships without mentioning the sophistication of the ships. It's a strawman argument used in the best way a strawman argument can be used: to draw a parallel between an opponent's point and something absurd. It's an apt comparison when you consider the kinds of ships Romney was talking about: the little jalopies that are completely obsolete in today's conflicts.

If Obama had simply said "there are fewer ships, but they're more sophisticated," would Republicans be tweeting pictures of ships and saying "Here's a ship! What was your point again?!" Sorry, but making good points that the average person can understand is an important quality in a leader, and Obama did just that with his zinger.

fredsgirl
fredsgirl

This is all nonsense.  What really matters is that Romney was speaking in stock phrases, key words and well practiced sound bites.  Obama was speaking more from his knowledge and heart.   The Romney we saw last night was a fake, as he was in debate 2 and 1.  To see the real Romney look at news articles from a year ago.  My objection to Romney is the conservatives want to return to things, go back and stand still.  The Democrats want to reach for tomorrow.  I also object that the conservatives have taken my Republican party and made a vicious joke of it.

SaymGuy
SaymGuy

Last I checked, horses and bayonets don't launch cruise missiles, jet fighters or transport thousands of troops with supplies. So how is not having as many horses and bayonets an argument against having more ships. Yes ships are more advance today, but how is having less of them a good thing when China building up their navy?

smate
smate

Ok, the prez didn't say "no more bayonets" he said: "We also have fewer horses and bayonets..."

EricScher
EricScher

The point, which I notice you avoided, is that Obama's blistering put down was a straw man. It was FUNNY, I laughed out loud, but it was still a Straw Man; because it responded to a critcism that Romney didn't make.

sighlol
sighlol

ok so let's assume that all the marines and reservist marines have bayonets: that is!! 203000+40000= 243,000 men with bayonets!!!! now let's look at the size of the union army. all of whom we can assume had bayonet training. but let's be reasonable and say that only 25% for sure had bayonet training: that gives us 2210000/4 = 552500 men with bayonets!what's that you say? is that really TWICE as many as our current marine corps?

hobbes
hobbes

well, i don't think president obama was saying that bayonets are no longer being purchased   what he was saying was that the nature of combat is always changing...to focus on old technology (even if it's still used) is a waste of resources.  yes,a bayonet has a function, but that was not the point of his comment.  

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

The only reason Romney wants to increase defense spending by 200 Billion a year is the fact that he has packed his military adviser council with defense contractor lobbyists. The US currently has more naval firepower than China, the EU and Russia combined. We also own 12 of the world's 22 Air Craft Carriers.

AlbertaEllisPeek
AlbertaEllisPeek

@UnemployedinOhio the people manning the unemployment lines are uneducated, unskilled and unmarketable. If Romney is elected, your plight will not change. What have you done to increase your employ ability?  Don't blame someone for your own inabilities! Vote as you may... but I guarantee.. your over 50, unskilled and looking for a job in a market that does not accept you! If you really really wanted to work there is a job for you! 

hopalong
hopalong

@UnemployedinOhio if you think that Romney would really mess with China then you're out of your mind. He and his backers have all of their manufacturing capabilities IN China and any backlash from China would destroy them. Just one of his backers, Adelson, has so much tied up in China that if Romney made them angry he would have him impeached. More empty blather from Romney!

asguard
asguard

@UnemployedinOhio Obama is only able to function off of a teleprompter. If it comes to things you or I would have learned in Elementary school American History; then Obama is at a loss, oh yea, Obama went to Elementary School in an Islamic Madrassa in Indonessia; so he didn't learn all the things like the Gettysburg Address, the 50 states, their capitols, and many of the other things one learns about United States Civics. His Ignorance shows in the debates and he is an embarasement of a president.

hopalong
hopalong

@asguard Well since what he said was that" we have FEWER bayonets and horses" let's see if you can find any proof to dispute THAT.

eabarth
eabarth

Really, the reading comprehension displayed by the vast majority of news outlets on this comment is atrocious. I expected better from Time.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@fredsgirl This is a media and administration meme, though not altogether untrue as it pertains to only some Repubs. My 80-year-old super-conservative uncle and his friends want the entire world to stand still. Mitt Romney does not. Mitt Romney is and always has been a moderate and is the American success story in his personal and business life - simultaneously studied law and business at Harvard, ran an Olympics, became extremely wealthy, and has a beautiful, loyal family - and he is loyal to them. Check with really wealthy people you know and see if they, too, try to (legally) store their hard-earned money out of Uncle Sam's greedy grasp. The middle class has all kinds of tax shelters, too; we just don't have as much money as the wealthy.Obama is much more liberal than Romney is conservative, means if O. stays, we will be the ones trying to find our hidden assets in Obama's tax programs.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@SaymGuy Romney mentioned a need for more naval ships, which makes perfect sense now that the current president is moving attention to the Pacific Rim. Maybe someone needs to advise Mr. O. of these needs. Wait - does the prez still think our military is using bayonets? Hmmm, he did bring that up ...

ifthethunderdontgetya
ifthethunderdontgetya

@EricScher 

 Rmoney was saying we had more ships a hundred years ago.

 The point is the ships we have are no comparison to what we had a hundred years ago, the Navy we have now if car more capable.

Thanks for playing.

~

asguard
asguard

@hobbes Cars are an old technology; it doesn't mean Detroit stops building them. Artillery is over 200 years old, doesn't mean they stop getting used or built. Doesn't mean Improvements arent made to them either. Mitt's point was you have to maintain the infrastructure; as well as invest in DARPA.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@hobbes My best guess is that the prez knows very little bayonets - or any new technology. Well, just drones. He loves those and has them used every chance he gets. Watch yourself!

fredsgirl
fredsgirl

Good point Hopalong, I hadn't thought of that!

hobbes
hobbes

@asguard @UnemployedinOhio president obama has the following 

University of Chicago Law School and civil rights attorney

In 1991, Obama accepted a two-year position as Visiting Law and Government Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School to work on his first book.[44][45] He then taught at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years—as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004—teaching constitutional law.[46]

From April to October 1992, Obama directed Illinois's Project Vote, a voter registration campaign with ten staffers and seven hundred volunteer registrars; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, leading Crain's Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.[47]

In 1993, he joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 13-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004. His law license became inactive in 2007.[48][49]

From 1994 to 2002, Obama served on the boards of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund the Developing Communities Project; and of theJoyce Foundation.[32] He served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995 to 2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995 to 1999.[32]

UnemployedinOhio
UnemployedinOhio

@asguard @UnemployedinOhio

I don’t agree with you. You mis-read my post. I never said that the President mis-spoke, the author of this article, one Sonia van Gilder Cooke, is the one who referenced the Civil War. It’s sad that she didn’t know, and sadder that Time allowed it go out like that(even going so far as to run a photo of the wrong period).Your bizarre post succinctly sums up one of the main reasons that people don’t wish to be identified with the Republicans. Your type is the polar opposite of the short-famed Obamaphone lady; both perfect examples of what is wrong with political discourse in this country.But since no one (Time included) reads these things, consider my rant ended.

asguard
asguard

@ironyman2 @SaymGuy Last I checked; obama was not even attending half of his National Security Briefs and Doesn't even know his army uses horses; so He needs to stop hanging out with the stars and worrying about his TV appearances with Jz and Beyonce.

SaymGuy
SaymGuy

@ironyman2  He probably does think that since he is trying to make an apples to apples comparison between horses/bayonets and war ships. Total logical failure!

smate
smate

@yvetteandmeeko @smate because they don't vote for Romney, they vote against Obama, and whatever sticks they will run with

asguard
asguard

@ifthethunderdontgetya @EricScher The need for ships still exists, the technology on the ships may change. We had Aircraft Carriers before WW2; they are not the same as today. Does not mean we don't need Aircraft Carriers. Each Ship in the Navy serves a strategic and a tactical purpose. We also have four oceans at a minimum we need to keep shipping lanes open and the ability to project power and maintain readiness.. One does not do that with only 100 ships; nor does one do that without having a set that can rotate into the dry docs.

SaymGuy
SaymGuy

@ifthethunderdontgetya @EricScher Yes ships today are more advance and capable, but capability does not replace availability. One ship can only be in one place at any moment. Having fewer ships means we can't be at as many place as we need to be, numbers still do matter.

asguard
asguard

@ironyman2 when was the last time you heard of This President visiting Walter Reed?@hobbes If he does not care about the men in the boots; what makes you think he cares or knows anything about the delivery systems? 

SaymGuy
SaymGuy

@killerdrgn @SaymGuy @ifthethunderdontgetya @EricScher Never made a comparison of old navy vs new. Simply stating that numbers do matter and last I checked warp speed is still not available to us so if an opposing navy has more ships, most likely just as advance then the only factor is numbers. China is investing a record amount into their military, so long as we keep thinking we're better than them and not investing in ours both in numbers and tech, they will pass us by. At best they are a decade behind, but last I check we're still using some decade old tech in our military.

killerdrgn
killerdrgn

@SaymGuy @ifthethunderdontgetya @EricScher We have larger Aircraft carriers that have longer range aircraft. Just one Aircraft carrier group is enough to project American influence anywhere in the world that they go. 

Are you seriously saying that the capabilities of the 1920's Navy is better than the one we have today? Numbers don't mean much in the face of overwhelming firepower...