WASHINGTON, D.C. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will travel to the Middle East over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit U.S. troops and meet with local military and political leaders, Pentagon and State Department officials said today.
Specifics of the trip - including whether or not Sebelius will go to Iraq - were not being released today for security reasons.
Sebelius, a Kansas Democrat, will make the trip with three other governors: Democrat Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and Republicans Sonny Perdue of Georgia and Haley Barbour of Mississippi.
"As commander in chief of the Kansas National Guard, I assure the family members out there, if I see your soldier, I'll be sure to pass on a handshake, a hug or a smile for you," Sebelius said in a written statement. "These men and women are remarkable Americans and I am honored to be in their company."
The Defense Department and the State Department are sponsoring the trip. The four governors were meeting in Washington on Tuesday with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"They will be meeting with troops from their states as well as senior military and civilian leaders in the area," said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman.
He said the governors will be able to spend substantial time with troops from their states and "get a sense of the impact those constituents have in the global war on terror."
The governors will visit "several locations in the Central Command area," he said.
"Deployments to support the war on terror have significant impact on the states from which the soldiers come," said Venable, when asked why the governors were going.
There are currently 1,149 active duty troops and 1,230 guard and reserves deployed who list their home state as Kansas.