There were no politics at play Tuesday when Gov. Sarah Palin made a surprise visit to Alaska National Guard troops stationed in Kuwait.
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The war in Iraq has become increasingly unpopular with Americans and has led to eroded GOP support for President Bush, but Palin, a Republican, said she left politics out of the equation this trip.
"I'm not here to judge the idea of withdrawing, or the timeline," she said in a teleconference interview with reporters from Kuwait. "I'm not going to judge even the surge. I'm here to find out what Alaskans need of me as their governor."
Palin visited the Alaska Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion 297th Infantry, a unit that is made up of about 575 Alaskan men and women.
She said she wanted a first-hand look at the sacrifices made by Alaska-based troops in the Middle East so she accepted the offer of a two-day tour, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Palin said this trip was so important to her she cut short her attendance at the National Governors Association meeting, missing the day when she was to be appointed vice-chair to the organization's natural resources committee.
Palin said she enjoyed watching and in a few cases, participating in various training exercises including some firearms practice, but not with live rounds.
Palin said she gained a new found appreciation for the individual efforts in Iraq.
"The heat here is overwhelming; it's 127 degrees," she said. "It's like taking a steam all day long. These guys are in fatigues and layers, and they are carrying equipment and guns."
She said she didn't know how they can do it. "Some of them are used to zero degrees or 10 and 20 below zero," she said.
Palin also attended a town hall meeting taking questions about everything from the state's effort to get a natural gas line built to the nation's ability to support injured troops.
Palin also addressed the prospects of a family member serving, including her oldest child, 18-year-old Track
"The military is something that he talks about," Palin said "Would I allow Track to join? I would be willing because I support our troops and I support my son's independence."
Palin was scheduled to visit an area north of Kuwait, but officials wouldn't say where exactly because of security concerns. On her way back to Alaska, she was scheduled to stop in Germany to visit wounded soldiers.
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