Sarah Palin, decider

She has been talked up as commander in chief of her state's National Guard, but Palin hasn't personally issued any orders as governor.

Published September 4, 2008 6:40PM (EDT)

There's an old saying that goes, "Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story." A little wordy, maybe, but that might be a more appropriate motto for the McCain campaign than "Country First."

John McCain and his surrogates have been making sure to mention that Sarah Palin, as governor of Alaska, is the commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. But it turns out that such experience may not be worth as much as Republicans say it is -- in fact, it seems that during her tenure as governor, she hasn't personally issued a single order to the Guard.

Moreover, Palin does not have command over Alaska National Guard troops who are overseas. An article in Wednesday's Anchorage Daily News cites Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, the service commander of the Alaska National Guard, as saying that "the governor has no command authority overseas or anywhere in the United States other than Alaska." According to the article, Palin has direct authority over the 4,200-member unit only when they respond to in-state disasters. However, Palin has delegated the majority of those responsibilities to Maj. Gen. Campbell.

And if the McCain campaign needed any more reason not to focus on the Alaskan National Guard when talking up Palin's leadership experience, the Associated Press has now documented personnel shortages in the state's Guard "that make its aviation units the most poorly staffed in the nation." The AP quotes Campbell as saying the situation "has reached a crisis level."

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

MORE FROM Vincent Rossmeier

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