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Comparing Daugaard and Obama on Afghanistan Outfits: Who Needs a Uniform?

A couple weeks ago, we discussed the appropriateness of Governor Dennis Daugaard's donning of military duds during his April visit to Afghanistan.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard visiting National Guard troops in Afghanistan, April 2012
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard visiting National Guard troops in Afghanistan, April 2012

My reasonable commenters offered protocol and security justifications for our civilian Governor to appear in official military gear in country. But check out the above picture from the Governor's office: look behind the clutch of soldiers, and you'll see civilians in civvies. Maybe those civilians are just decoys for enemy fire. Or maybe David Newquist is right and putting the Governor in camos is about PR for the military and acknowledging his nominal status as commander in chief of those Guard troops.

But check out the real Commander in Chief on his latest visit to our troops in Afghanistan:

President Barack Obama visits U.S. soldiers at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, May 2, 2012
President Barack Obama visits U.S. soldiers at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, May 2, 2012

On base, surrounded by soldiers... and not even wearing his suit jacket, never mind a BDU. Much like Lincoln (why yes, DWC, let's make comparisons), President Obama makes clear in clothes his proper status as civilian commander of the military. His Secret Service guys don't play soldier, either; they maintain their usual men-in-black presence.

This is a small issue, but the question remains open: why does the civilian governor of a state don a military uniform jacket to visit National Guard troops over whom he has little real authority, while the President of the United States appears before the troops he commands in the same foreign war zone in civilian shirtsleeves?


  1. Troy Jones 2012.05.02

    Regarding attire difference of the Governor vs. the President, I hope the President gets alot more security than a Governor. Thus, other precautions should be taken with the Governor to mitigate the lower level of security.

    Regarding the civilians, they obviously aren't targets. Heck, they might as well not be there as nobody is talking to them.

    My main agreement with you is this is a small issue not worth talking about.

  2. Bill Fleming 2012.05.02

    Troy's right. It's not a thing... except when it is.

    GWB pretending to fly a fighter jet onto an aircraft carrier, then getting off in uniform and giving a "Mission Accomplished" speech complete with banners was a stupid thing.

    So is the current GOP meme that "anybody would have done what Obama has done in Afghanistan... even Jimmy Carter."

    Well, no, not just anybody would, and not just anybody did.

    Obama did.

    Shame on him for having the audacity to be who he is, and run on his record. (One friend calls it "playing the 'run-on-his-record' card." LOL)

  3. Nick Nemec 2012.05.02

    Who are those civilians in white shirts in the background? In time we'll learn if the camo clothing is for some purpose other than security. I really doubt any civilian visitor President or Governor is ever in a front line situation where they are in danger. There is a military term for this "in the rear with the gear".

    There are stories of President Lincoln having Confederate snipers taking pot shots at him while he toured the Union lines around Washington. In his history of WWII Winston Churchill told of being on a destroyer actively shelling the Normandy beaches on D-Day. Those two really went into dangerous situations, possibly foolishly.

  4. Steve Sibson 2012.05.02

    "why does the civilian governor of a state don a military uniform jacket to visit National Guard troops over whom he has little real authority, while the President of the United States appears before the troops he commands in the same foreign war zone in civilian shirtsleeves?"

    Because politicians are theatre, making us believe stuff that is not true.

  5. larry kurtz 2012.05.02

    that's why you are running in the earth hater party, right, Steve?

  6. Bill Fleming 2012.05.02

    Sibby's idea about people making him believe things that are not true is priceless. That's his stock in trade! He's bought into more bullshit in the last few years than most peoeple ever fall for in a lifetime.

    He should start his own "HookLine&Stinker" party.


    • Suckers for Sibby •
    • Honk If You Were Born Yesterday •
    • If Sibby's Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right •

  7. D. Bice 2012.05.02

    As a former US Army combat veteran, I took particular interest in this story and I have an answer for you... In the picture you show in the original post (Daugaard in Uniform: Got a Problem with That?) Governor Daugaard is seen wearing an Army Combat Uniform (ACU) field jacket with a SD Guard tape over the left breast pocket. According to Army Regulation 670-1, as Commander-in-Chief of a State Defense Force (the South Dakota National Guard), the Governor is authorized to wear this particular uniform. Had he had a US Army tape over the left breast pocket instead of SD Guard, it would not have been authorized, as only members of the Active Duty Army, Army Reserve and/or Army National Guard are authorized to wear a US Army tape over the left breast pocket.

    Army Regulation 670-1
    Uniforms and Insignia
    Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia

    Part 5 Chapter 30–8. Wear of a Uniform Similar to the Army Uniform

    Section C. State defense forces (SDF) may adopt the Army service and BDU uniforms, provided all service uniform buttons, cap devices, and other insignia differ significantly from that prescribed for wear by members of the U.S. Army. State insignia will not include “United States,” “U.S.,” “U.S. Army,” or the Great Seal of the United States. Personnel of the SDF may wear a State-designed SDF distinguishing badge or insignia centered on the left pocket flap. The red nametape or nameplate will include the full title of the SDF (for example, “Texas State Guard”). The utility uniforms will contain a State SDF tape in lieu of “U.S. Army” over the left breast pocket. States wishing to adopt the Army service and utility uniforms will register with the Chief, National Guard Bureau.

  8. David Newquist 2012.05.02

    When visiting troops, presidents often wear a blue jacket that has their name on the left breast and a big presidential seal with Air Force One over on the right. However, that jacket seems to favor one service.

    President Obama is a devotee of Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman's (LBJ administration) signal of dress. When holding a press conference or a town hall-type meeting, he signaled that it was time to get down to serious work and that he was one of the workers by slipping off his suit coat and rolling up his shirt sleeves. That seems to be Obama's working garb of choice.

    However, the President, as Commander in Chief, is the 800-pound gorilla. He, like Klinger on Mash, could wear a dress if he wants to. although it would send his political opponents into orgasms of gleeful outrage and give his advisers coronaries.

  9. Bill Fleming 2012.05.02

    David. Good point. What if Obama showed up dressed like Jimi Hendrix sometime? Or Little Richard? Wouldn't that seriously kick ass?

  10. Steve Sibson 2012.05.02

    "He should start his own “HookLine&Stinker” party."

    At least I figured it out. But you still believe the lies, even after exposure to the truth. Very sad Bill.

  11. Douglas Wiken 2012.05.02

    Give Steve a break on this. We have all become pawns of seen and unseen hands which are connected to the plutocrats and their friends.

    We need politicians with more spine and backbone and less finger in the wind and a whole lot less sham and pretense. We are plagued with politicians lacking political will to resist the power of money and plutocracy.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.02

    Mr. Bice! I appreciate a veteran's perspective on this issue!

  13. Jay BK Slater 2012.05.03

    Entirely different locations. Note Gov Daugaard is speaking with Soldiers in the field carrying weapons with magazines in. President Obama is speaking with Soldiers inside (no headgear) and no weapons. Vast difference in security between Bagram Air Base and a FOB or firebase. I believe the field jacket was presented to Gov Daugaard by the grateful service members of the South Dakota National Guard and now you are implying that is a shameful thing. What will you come up with next? That it is a political statement for him to welcome his unit coming home from war in the next couple of weeks? Don't make a good thing appear bad.

  14. Bill Fleming 2012.05.03

    Figured out what, Sibson? That we should be careful about giving the military industrial complex too much power? That was Eisenhower. And there are those of us who have been singing that song all our lives.

    Wiken, sory, but I don't think it does any good to have crackpots like Sibby trying to replace one form of ridiculous bullshit with another,

  15. South DaCola 2012.05.03

    Is Dennis a veteran? If he is, I don't have a problem with the garb, otherwise, it kinda reminds me of GW's 'Mission Accomplished' outfit.

  16. Carter 2012.05.03

    South DaCola, he is not a veteran. He was a security guard once, though, apparently. Does that count?

    For some reason, to me, I don't like it. To me, somehow, it just seems a little bit disrespectful. I'm not exactly a gung-ho supporter of the military, but an old man running around Afghanistan playing soldier while people are killing each other seems not good.

    Also, does anyone know what most representation of our flag are stars on the left, stripes on the right, but in the military, they're stripes on the left, stars on the right?

  17. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Mr. Carter. I'm sure young Mr. Nelson could set you straighter than I, but you need a lesson.

    The Stars and Stripes flow with the wind, sir. If the flag on the right shoulder were to be with the field on the left, that would mean the wearer is retreating.

    And you, sir, should know, that the US of A does not retreat. Hence, Mr. Carter, you will always see the banner represented on the arms of our fine sailors, soilders, and marines, always portrayed as if our brave men and women are charging forward. NOT in retreat.

    I am a bit embarassed for you that you do not know this simple fact, nor have you observed it on the numerous individuals who serve our great country.

    Let me put it simple for you, Mr. Carter. You need to be able to envision a US flag, from your perspective in the far east, libby part of this state, this flag on a pole to your west. The sun is setting behind it, and Mr. Sibson is giving a rousing speech on a stump with a few homeless around him off to your right (north). You are facing the flag pole. The wind is blowing from the north, to your left. From the North. To your left. The flag would be flowing...flowing the South. Wind from the north, flag to the south. Are you daft? Did you pass 3rd grade math?

    So the flag is blowing to the South. Away from Sibby and his posse of roaddogs. The field of blue, on the flag, closest to the the north. Because the ...oh for gosh sakes.

    Just git you out a little flag you pretend to wave at parades and turn it around. Maybe you'll get it. But understand this. It would be a major INSULT and BREACH to ever wear a flag on a uniform that looked like the wearer was going backwards.

    My granddaughter sums you up in one word. "Dumbass", she says.

  18. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Granddaugher says "Tell the dumbass to look at the flag on the left shoulder."

    Good for her to sum it up better than I, but she does have a bead on you.

  19. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Even Sibby knows that exactly 50% of the time in the military the stars are on the right, and exactly 50% of the time the stars are on the left. Even for one-armed Marines. Sheesh.

  20. Carter 2012.05.03

    Sore spot for you, Grudz?

  21. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Dumbasses always grind my beans, Mr. Carter. And you seem to know as much about the military as Mr. Nelson does about the budget.

  22. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Or Mr. Sibby knows about socialist boofant evangalist bastards that have a rant-on over hog farms and score cards. Just know, Sibby looses a notch on my score card over this.

  23. Carter 2012.05.03

    You know, if it were up to me, Grudz, I would put one going one way, and the other flag going the other. That way, instead of the soldiers looking like they're sprinting across the battlefield like it's World War 1, it would look like they're spinning around are fast as they can while carrying an automatic weapon like a lunatic. I'm way more scared of lunatics with automatic weapons.

  24. Bill Fleming 2012.05.03

    Grudz, what a lot of baloney. Soldiers retreat all the time. Sometimes they even go sideways. And up, and down and over and under. Whatever. Now, eat your peas and go take a nap. And take your dang little yappin' dog with you.

  25. Carter 2012.05.03

    No, Bill! You don't understand! Let me give you a history lesson...

    Back in the 16th century, there was a tribe of Indians who covered their chief in gold dust for a ritual. The Spanish, wise gentlemen that they were, decided this must mean that there was a CITY of gold. They asked the Indians, and the Indians, who as the Spanish knew very well, could not form complex thoughts such as lying, and the Indians said "Yes, there is a city of gold very far away from here", so the Spanish went looking for it! Unfortunately, no one has found it yet.

    The lesson of this is the same lesson our military knows. Non-white people can't form complex thoughts such as "does the US army have a history of retreating when strategy calls for it?" Instead, they can only observe rudimentary things, such as "Pretty colors on pale face's jacket blow with wind. Pale face attack us like tiger-bear. We run-hide." And so we win all the wars. Yay, colonialism!

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.05.03

    [Grudz, I don't think not knowing a somewhat arcane bit of military flag protocol constitutes grounds for a verdict of "dumbass."]

  27. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Mr. H. I apologize to Mr. Carter for calling him a dumbass.

    But my accurate depiction of what a flag looks like from the left or from the right when it is charging forward stands. Even a french teacher cannot dispute the physics. Mr. Carter should twirl a little french flag around to understand.

  28. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Bill, please bring a french flag to breakfast tomorrow to demonstrate how it appears on the shoulders of the French Army.

  29. Carter 2012.05.03

    Huh. I was always under the impression that when the wind blew something, it made it go towards the wind. Also, I thought tall, flat, solid objects had low air resistance. Also, the world is flat, and that ships just rise out of the ocean like submarines when they come into view. Man, Grudz, you've taught me a lot today.

  30. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Next time you look at the Stars and Stripes, flying from a pole in your neighbors yard or the nearest pancake house...please note that the field of stars is always closest to the pole upon which the flag is fixed, and that the flag may be blowing left, or right. You'd think even my good friend Bill would understand that part of this thing.

  31. Carter 2012.05.03

    Hey, Grudz. Guess what the French Army doesn't put on the shoulders of their uniforms?

  32. grudznick 2012.05.03

    Carter, have you figured out yet that you can view a flag from two directions, you dumbass?

  33. Carter 2012.05.03

    What does "two directions" mean? Sorry for being so difficult. I have to have someone else read this and write my responses for me because I am also not literate.

  34. grudznick 2012.05.03

    You may be a stout of body young man, but you are far too weak minded to have ever made it as an ordinary legionnaire.

    But you do entertain me. You may continue.

  35. Carter 2012.05.03

    Sorry. I can't tonight. My head hurts from this thinking thing. I will look tomorrow at a flag to see if I can figure out how to see two directions.

  36. Bill Fleming 2012.05.04

    Classic. Cory should frame this.

Comments are closed.