'Palin has no role in guarding US airspace as Alaska Governor'

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Washington, Oct 1 : The Alaska Governor and John McCain'a running mate, Sarah Palin, has no command authority over the guardians of US airspace despite her recent suggestion in an interview to CBS News' Katie Couric.

"She doesn't have any role in that process," Air Force Maj. Allen Herritage, spokesman for the Alaska North American Aerospace Defense Command, said.

"The authority to launch and respond to a Russian incursion lies with the Alaska NORAD Region commander" - Air Force Lt. General Dana Atkins, the Daily News quoted him, as saying.

Palin said last week that her foreign policy experience includes facing the Russians.

"It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia, as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America - where do they go? It's Alaska," Palin told CBS' Katie Couric.

"It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation," she said.

Moscow's bombers have skirted Alaskan airspace 20 times, though they have not violated it, during Palin's governorship, officials said.

When F-15 and F-22 interceptors scrambled from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage in response, McCain's running mate was not speed-dialed with the news.

"The commander does not call the Governor," Herritage said.

Steven Biegun, a McCain foreign policy adviser, said Palin's National Guard commander informs her of the fly-bys.

The Alaska Air Guard, which Palin oversees, performs airspace-watching missions only under NORAD command, and does not fly interception sorties.

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