Did Palin Promote Alaska National Guard General Because He Changed His Tone To Support Her Credentials?

In an effort to claim that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has adequate foreign policy experience, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign has repeatedly referred to her as “the commander of the National Guard, of Alaska’s National Guard.” On Fox News Sunday last week, McCain himself invoked that experience, saying, “She has been with her troops, the National Guard that she commands.”

But in several interviews last week, the relevance of Palin’s role with the National Guard was severely undercut by the actual commander of the Alaska National Guard — its Adjutant General, Major General Craig Campbell:

— “But, in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, [Cambpell] said he and Palin play no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. The entire operation is under federal control, and the governor is not briefed on situations.” [The Associated Press, 8/31/2008]

— “And while the Alaska National Guard operates a launch site for a US anti-missile system at Fort Greely, about 100 miles south of Fairbanks, the Alaskan governor is not in the site’s chain of command and has no authority over its operations, according to Maj. Gen. Craig E. Campbell.” [Boston Globe, 9/3/2008]

— “Campbell also said that Palin has authority over the National Guard’s domestic missions — such as fighting wildfires and rescuing stranded residents, but that she has a limited role in determining how the forces are trained or equipped.” [Boston Globe, 9/3/2008]

Brandon Friedman at VetVoice points out that Campbell struck a different tone days later when he spoke to Fox News, saying, “National Guards are state military forces run by governors, and Sarah Palin does it great.” Watch it:

As Friedman notes, Palin promoted Campbell two days later, making him a Lieutenant General in the Alaska National Guard. There is no direct evidence of a causal link between Campbell’s praise for Palin and his promotion, but Friedman writes that “this series of events raises serious questions about what’s going on” and “the media would be wise to probe this further.”

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