Tales from the Trail

Gingrich discusses pantyhose airlift at defense contractor

January 9, 2012

Newt Gingrich took a break from attacking Mitt Romney today to visit with workers at defense contractor BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H., where he spent much of his stump speech praising the importance of technology and the military. To illustrate his point, he described a problem special forces soldiers found themselves in after being airlifted into Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

When they first got there and started meeting, the Northern Alliance said: ‘We’ll ride in the morning.’ And our guys stared at them, and they said: “What do you mean, we’ll ride in the morning?” And they said we’re going on horseback. So it turned out that the special forces field uniforms have very large inseams which when you ride a horse create a real problem. And they immediately realized that this is going to be physically painful. So they got on the sat phone, called home and found out that if you got extra large, super heavy pantyhose, that three pair provided a buffer when you were riding a horse.”

Gingrich wasn’t telling the story only to conjure images of L’eggs-wearing commandos. “Here’s the deeper point I want to make about this,” he said. “Think about the capacity to encounter a problem you never thought of in the middle of nowhere, and this is Central Asia, pick up the phone, make an order and within 36 hours have an airdrop and not have a clue going in which thing you’ll need this time.”

Gingrich said he was told the story by Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong, the former deputy commander of CENTCOM. DeLong has also detailed the pantyhose lift in his book, Inside CentCom: The Unvarnished Truth About the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Photo credit: Newt Gingrich attends a campaign stop in Nashua, New Hampshire, January 9, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

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