Granted, this is from a partisan source: Philip Carter, national director of Veterans for Obama. But the sources he cites are decidedly non-partisan. I hope you will find it an informative juxtaposition to Palin’s rhetoric on her strong support of the military.
Palin’s Record on Military ReadinessDuring the debate on October 2, Gov. Sarah Palin asserted she and John McCain would “win the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan and keep America safe: “We cannot afford to lose against al Qaeda and the Shia extremists who are still there, still fighting us, but we’re getting closer and closer to victory. And it would be a travesty if we quit now in Iraq.”
Palin also attempted to downplay the hardships and burdens facing today’s veterans and military families, stating with a smirk that “There have been huge blunders in the war. There have been huge blunders throughout this administration, as there are with every administration.”
America’s military deserves better than 4 more years of the same. Just as President Bush’s stewardship has hurt the American military during the past 8 years, Gov. Palin’s oversight of the Alaska National Guard has left it dangerously unprepared. The Alaska National Guard ranks in the bottom 20% of all states on manpower issues, and similarly low on equipment, training and resources.
� The Alaska Air National Guard is 370 members short of its authorized end strength. Alaska’s Air Guard fills only 84% of its positions, the lowest fill rate in the country. Only 8 other states below 90% fill rate. (Richard Lardner, “Alaska National Guard Faces Personnel Crisis,” Associated Press, 9/4/08.)
� Lieutenant General Craig Campbell, Adjutant General of the Alaska National Guard, sent an internal memo to his deputy stating that “missions are at risk” due to the Air Guard’s shortfalls. According to Lt. Gen. Campbell, the lack of qualified airmen “has reached a critical level.” (AP, 9/4/08.)
� Consistent with other National Guard bureaus, Alaska has access to approximately one-half of its authorized equipment at any given time. This puts great stress on the Alaska Army and Air National Guard efforts in rural communities, including rescuing lost travelers and providing assistance during natural disasters. (AP, 2/12/08; AP, 3/8/07)
� The State of Alaska’s own readiness ratings clearly show that Alaska’s Guard is not prepared and ready for a domestic contingency or combat mobilization. Each Alaska Army National Guard unit is assigned a “T-Rating” – ranging from T-1, for trained and ready, to T-4, not trained and not ready. ; For every quarter since FY 2005, the T-Rating for the Alaska Army National Guard as a whole has been T-4 – the lowest level in the system. (State of Alaska, FY2009 Governor’s Operating Budget, December 2007, p. 7.)
� The State of Alaska gives its own employees who serve in the Guard minimal benefits, especially when compared with other states like California and New York. Alaska provides only 15 days of paid leave during deployment, instead of any differential pay during deployments. California, in comparison, provides pay differential between state employment and military salary for up to 365 days during federal or state deployments. This despite a manpower crisis in the Guard, and pleas from Guard officers for additional benefits to assist with recruiting.
� According to a recent study by the non-partisan Veterans for America, Alaska’s Guard personnel lack adequate access to health care during or after deployments . (Veterans for America, 10/1/08.)
� Many Guard families live in remote areas with no access to TRICARE providers during deployments. According to the VFA study, the state of Alaska does too little to assist these Guardsmen and their families with accessing the medical care they need. (Veterans for America, 10/1/08.)