Palin promotes general after he changes his stance on her experience
John Byrne and Mike Sheehan
Published: Tuesday September 9, 2008

Print This  Email This

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has promoted an adjutant-general in the Alaska National Guard to Lieutenant General after he reversed course on remarks that seemed to criticize the now-Republican candidate for Vice President.

Last Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell suggested to the Boston Globe that Gov. Sarah Palin's role as commander of the state's National Guard was largely ceremonial, thus blunting attempts by the McCain campaign to assert she had foreign policy experience.

"Our National Guard is basically just like any National Guard," Campbell told the paper. "You could call [Adjutant General] Joe Carter in Massachusetts and he would say he is organized the same way."

"She is very much engaged in what we are doing and she asks a lot of questions," Campbell added. "Maybe not the most engaged, but definitely engaged.

He noted that 75 percent of the Guard's budget is controlled by the National Guard Bureau in Washington, and that Alaska's anti-nuclear missile site is not under his or Palin's purview.

Later in the week, however, Campbell appeared on Fox News to tout Palin's candidacy.

"I'll tell you, in the last few days, I've been watching the press, and I've not been very pleased with what I've been seeing about the chastising of the National Guard by having it diminished by the insinuation that a commander-in-chief of the National Guard doesn't really control the military," he remarked. "The National Guard has 500,000 people in it around this great country, serving in states and overseas. National Guards are state military forces run by governors, and Sarah Palin does it great."

On Monday, he was quietly promoted. A statement -- issued by Palin's office -- asserted that the promotion signified "Governor Sarah Palin's support of the Guard and her commitment to reinforcing the cooperation between federal and state military assets."

"Palin took the opportunity to promote Campbell ahead of any pending emergency that may occur with the upcoming fall storm season," it added. "This allows Alaska to have more of a say in times of state disasters."

"This is about Alaskans serving Alaskans," Palin said in the release. "The promotion is a statement that the Alaska National Guard is the state military force responsible for responding to state issues, at the direction of the Governor. The decision to promote the Adjutant General to Lieutenant General is based on a fundamental states'-rights stance, for which Alaska has a strong historical position."

The promotion was first noted by VoteVets' Brandon Friedman.

At least one Alaskan National Guardsman has expressed outrage at the promotion. In a posting on the blog of an Alaska radio host, a man who claims to be a member of the Alaska National Guard expressed his ire.

"The Guardsmen found out about this travesty when a call went out for volunteers to fill the room for his ceremony," the Guardsman wrote. "The response was almost non-existent."

Campbell's promotion is largely ceremonial, the poster noted. Only the federal level of the national guard is able to promote individuals to the Major General rank.

"General Campbell's promotion will be a 'state' promotion," he said. "He will be a three-star general only while on State business. In a very rank-conscious environment, this distinction will not be lost on the other Flag Officers. He will look the part of a three-star general but will not be regarded as one by the very people he needs to work with and influence."

"No one can be promoted to the top ranks because of perceived leadership deficiencies but even with his obvious leadership flaws, he has no reluctance whatsoever to accept a cosmetic promotion," he added. "I believe the Governor's office will receive substantial correspondence urging her to reconsider this insult to the men and women of the Alaska National Guard."