COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Nikki Haley's husband will soon begin a yearlong deployment with the South Carolina Army National Guard to Africa, a mission that will encompass most of the remainder of his wife's campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
A formal deployment ceremony will likely happen in the next few weeks, a person with knowledge of Michael Haley's deployment told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
This spring, the South Carolina National Guard called officers with his skill set to deploy in support of U.S. Africa Command, according to the person, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the deployment and spoke on condition of anonymity.
It will be his second active-duty deployment since he joined the Guard as an officer in 2006.
Nikki Haley, a former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor, has been highly critical of President Joe Biden's competency as commander in chief as she campaigns for the GOP nomination. She has spoken out against his administration's efforts to expand diversity in the military, complaining they were weakening the force and hampering recruitment, though the Army has said that the real problem is that many young people do not see enlistment as safe or a good career path.
She has also pledged to make cuts in $46 billion in foreign aid to countries she says "hate America."
While not directly confirming the deployment, Nikki Haley said in a statement to the AP that her family "is ready to make personal sacrifices when our loved one answers the call."
"We could not be prouder of Michael and his military brothers and sisters," she added.
Michael Haley, the candidate's husband of 26 years, has been a constant at his wife's campaign events since she became a White House candidate.
He made his first overseas deployment in January 2013, when his wife was midway through her first term as governor, and their children were ages 10 and 14.
"He left me as a single mom governor, but we're still married," Nikki Haley, who frequently mentions her status as a military wife, said of her husband during a campaign appearance a month ago in Greer, South Carolina. She went on to critique the Biden administration's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
Returning from his 2013 deployment just before Christmas of that year, Michael Haley told the AP that his unit worked as part of an agricultural support team, helping Afghan farmers turn from growing opium to growing other crops profitable enough to sustain their communities.
At the time, Haley's commander, Lt. Col. Todd Shealy, acknowledged there is always some danger when an individual in the public eye serves as a soldier in a combat region.
"It does make him more of a target," Shealy said of Haley. "But there are some particular things to do to minimize that threat," he added, pointedly not defining what they might be.