Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

September 4, 2008


George Bryson, Anchorage Daily News - "Can you tell me one decision that she made as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard?" CNN journalist Campbell Brown asked Monday while interviewing McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds. "Just one?"

"Any decision she has made as the commander of the (Alaska) National Guard that's deployed overseas is more of a decision than Barack Obama's been making as he's been running for president for the last two years," Bounds said.

But the governor has no command authority overseas -- or anywhere in the United States other than Alaska, says Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, the service commander of the Alaska National Guard.

"When members of the National Guard are federalized, they work for the president," Campbell said Wednesday. "It's not just overseas. They could be federalized to go to other states, or they could even be federalized in the state."

Occasions in which Palin does retain command authority over the 4,200-member Alaska National Guard are whenever the guard responds to in-state natural disasters and civic emergencies, said Campbell, who also serves as commissioner of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Some examples?

"We've deployed individuals in state service all over the state under Sarah Palin," he said. "We had defense men down in Seward for the (Mount) Marathon run doing security.

"Out west and northwest we had erosion problems and the National Guard was involved in some of the protection out there. About three days ago, the Army National Guard picked up a lady from Little Diomede ... at the request of state troopers."

Did Palin directly approve each of those activities?

No, Campbell said. The governor has granted him authority to act on his own in most cases, including life-or-death emergencies when a quick response is required, or minor day-to-day operations.

"Some authorities have been given to me that she has acknowledged that I can execute," he said. "For others I have to ask her each time."

The recent decision to deploy a C-17 cargo plane from the Alaska Air National Guard to Louisiana to assist during the Hurricane Gustav response was an occasion in which he briefed the governor's office and sought its approval, Campbell said. But in that case, chief of staff Mike Nizich signed off on the deployment.

The flooding that occurred in Fairbanks in late July -- in which the guard sent water trucks north to provide clean drinking water -- didn't require the governor's approval, Campbell said.

Natural disasters are fairly sporadic, says Jeremy Zidek, public information officer for the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which is part of Campbell's department.

Last year, during Palin's first year as governor, there wasn't much action, Zidek said. "Thankfully we didn't have any major disasters."

Former Gov. Bill Egan used National Guard troops after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. Former Gov. Tony Knowles did the same to help fight a wildfire that destroyed residences in the Mat-Su area in 1996.

Having served as governor from 1994 to 2002, Knowles considers his command of the Alaska National Guard one of the most important jobs he had. But he deferred a lot to the adjutant general he placed in charge, Knowles said.

"I had more military action in one week when I was in the Army as a sergeant (in Vietnam) than I had as commander in chief for eight years," he said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Alaska National Guard leadership is unique I must say. It has leaders like Campbell and Kacass who fight wars at their desks all day and then get promoted another star. Our son spent two tours in Afghanistan in combat and got rewarded by Congressionals by the Generals' cronies for writing them truthful oer's. These Generals love the "kiss asses" and retaliate against anyone who has integrity and stands up to their bullshit. Their cronies did some despicable acts and we believe that it has been covered up plus they were promoted by these stooges. Our son was awarded the Canadians highest award and also at his retirement ceremony the National Guard award. Why can't these rogus Generals be exposed? Who's in charge of them? This needs some media investigation and they should be demoted instead of promoted. Our son didn't play their corrupt game. I am mad, mad enough to take this to the liberal media. As a Viet Nam Vet, I served under honorable leaders and this would never have happened or if it did, it would have been taken care of. Is Alaska politics corrupt as Sarah Palin was informed as Senators and Representatives. We were warned that we will get no where in our cause but we will NOT give up. From an outraged Viet Nam Vet

June 15, 2009 3:21 PM  

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