Do reservist/congressmen in the field put soldiers at risk?
When I was in Afghanistan, one of my jobs was to help get journalists embedded in units in the field. When we sent a reporter out, we had to decide whether to send a public affairs soldier along as well. This decision was made depending on the unit's mission and the journalist's background. We couldn't take the risk of screwing up a mission or getting someone hurt because a grunt had to save some reporter's ass.
Kirk claimed to have "deployed" to Afghanistan, but he merely traveled there for two-week-long orders. He has said that during his tour he saw "some of the roughest districts" in the country. Despite the danger, he pulled strings and made these trips without going through the pre-deployment training that all other military folks have to complete before they arrive in country.
That training is important. It's where service members have the current rules of engagement explained to them. It's where tactics on how to deal with current threats--especially IEDs and other booby traps--are laid out.
So, when Kirk arrived in Afghanistan, he did so without the baseline training that all other service members receive. He was, in a word, unprepared . And, while journalists in civilian clothes and weird-looking protection gear are easy identify as possible weak links in a mission, Kirk was wearing a uniform and traveling around just like any other service member.
And he's not the only one. Lindsey Graham has also been able to swing these "mini-tours" for himself.
If anything good can come out of the scrutiny Kirk's lies have received, I hope it will lead the DoD to reconsider these political tours for politicians. It would be unforgivable for an unprepared pol in uniform to choke at the wrong moment and cause the death of a fellow service member.