In our discussion of the odd policy decision by the Daugaard Administration to scale back the portfolio of the Lieutenant Governor position based on a personal decision by the current holder of the job, a minor kerfuffle erupts over Dennis Daugaard's taxpayer-funded photo op tour of Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Commenter Robert Cordts finds offense in the Governor's donning of a military jacket:
I just think members of the Daugaard administration are liars. Daugaard was wearing an Army uniform (BDU) the other day in Afghanistan while doing a television interview. I realize that he is commander-in-chief of the SD National Guard but I think it is a stretch for him to wear the uniform of the armed forces. Wearing leather and chaps to promote the Sturgis rally is one thing but putting on the uniform of the armed services is another. Has he ever served in the military? I have not found any information indicating that he has. Daugaard is either pretentious or deceitful &ndash I don't know which is worse [Robert Cordts, comment, Madville Times, 2012.04.20].
Commenter Troy Jones defends Daugaard's sartorial security sense:
FYI: High value targets (Senators, Governors, etc.) who go into hostile territory are often advised/required to wear BDU's for security reasons. My memory is a bit fuzzy as it was 30 years ago. But I remember a picture of a Senator or Congressman (guessing maybe Bill Bradley or I think his name was McMillan who was also a former NBA player) who went to Lebanon/Israel during that conflict and he was wearing BDU's (looked like capris) and dress shoes because they didn't have pants and boots that fit him. It was hilarious looking but the purpose was security.
Don't know if that played a part in the Governor's attire as I don't know what threats the Governor was under but it wouldn't surprise me [Troy Jones, comment, Madville Times, 2012.04.20].
Gov. Daugaard says he is speaking from the International Security Assistance Force headquarters after a full day out and about at a "forward operating base." The interview appears to be a planned indoor event, certainly not some cameraman's scrum on the fly. The Governor wears a military coat with his name, a U.S. flag, and Guard insignia.
Now compare that with other photos from Daugaard's globe-trot:
Governor Daugaard appears outside in civvies with uniformed soldiers. The South Dakota National Guard says these photos are all from Kuwait. Kuwait is not currently a war zone; Afghanistan is. The Governor said in his video interview from Kabul Wednesday that he had not yet met with South Dakota troops in Afghanistan, but he planned to Thursday. I have not yet found photos of those Thursday visits to compare... but I'm willing to bet that when those photos turn up, with the heightened security concerns in Afghanistan, we'll see Daugaard in fatigues outdoors there as well.
I'm not sure I see a major foul here. Mr. Jones's point on security may hold some water... although as I check the record, I find Commander-in-Chief Obama visited Iraq in more dangerous April 2009 wearing his regular suit. When the President visited Bagram Air Base in December 2010, he wore a leather bomber jacket.
Military readers, I welcome your perspective: what is protocol for elected officials, particularly commanders-in-chief, wearing military garb in country?