Gov. Dennis Daugaard is in Afghanistan today and tomorrow with two other Governors on a Department of Defense trip to meet with National Guard troops from the three states and get a first-hand look at military operations.
The Department of Defense offers the trips to Governors, makes the arrangements and pays for them.
Govs. Daugaard, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island visited military bases in Kuwait on Tuesday.
"The whole idea of the trip is to help Governors understand what their troops are going through and let the troops know that people back home are thinking about them, and encourage them and tell them we're proud of them and look forward to their safe return," Gov. Daugaard said today from Kabul, Afghanistan.
The Governor said he met Tuesday in Kuwait with South Dakota troops from Company C, 1st Battalion 189th Aviation Regiment of Rapid City and the 139th Brigade Support Battalion from the Brookings, Redfield, Watertown, Miller, Mitchell, Rapid City and Sioux Falls areas, and he was scheduled to meet Thursday in Afghanistan with members of the 842nd Engineer Co. from the Belle Fourche, Sturgis, Spearfish area.
Gov. Daugaard said the trip to the Mideast has given him a better understanding of how our troops are deployed there. He said many of the soldiers he met are nearing the end of their deployments, and he received personal notes from some of them to deliver to family and friends in South Dakota.
"Our soldiers and airmen are doing well," the Governor said. "They are in good spirits and looking forward to getting back home."
Gov. Daugaard met Monday with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta at the Pentagon, and the Governor also visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where wounded soldiers are taken for treatment and rehabilitation.