Republicans are pointing to the Alaska National Guard as an important national security credential for vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. But it has some problems.
Personnel shortages have made the Alaska Guard's aviation units the most poorly staffed in the nation. Air Force Major General Craig Campbell is its top officer, and in an internal memo six months ago he warned that the lack of qualified airmen "has reached a crisis level" that puts missions at risk.
In an interview yesterday, Campbell told The Associated Press that the situation has improved since he wrote the memo. But he says concerns remain about "burnout" among current troops.
Campbell describes Palin as very supportive of the Guard, and says she gives him latitude to manage the force. Governors typically do not have a direct role in the Guard's day-to-day operations.