Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Retired colonel offers suggestions for fixing Alaska National Guard

Col. Laurie Hummel, USA (Ret)
Laurie Hummel, a West Point alumna and retired Army colonel (and current candidate for the state legislature) has written a powerful op-ed urging a host of actions she believes have to be taken to get the Alaska National Guard back on track. For example:
2. Appoint an independent special prosecutor to address criminal actions not currently enforceable by the Guard’s antiquated, ineffective state version of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. State Guard forces do not fall under the federal UCMJ that our active duty service members and veterans are familiar with. Alaska has been operating under a state UCMJ drawn up pre-statehood. Alaska Statute 26.05: Military Code of Alaska is cumbersome and toothless. For example, Guard commanders have no option to refer offenders for court-martial or non-judicial punishment. Instead, they can only administratively remove someone from service. [State Sen. Lesil] McGuire’s intent to call for a special prosecutor is spot on, and I applaud her for wanting to take this necessary step toward serving justice. 
3. The Legislature must create a viable UCMJ. The Guard must advise and guide but the state’s Military Code is a state statute. This is the province of our Legislature. The heavy lifting for creating a meaningful and effective code is done in committee. This would appropriately be accomplished by the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. But again, nothing is happening on that front.
4. Separate the adjutant general (TAG) position from the commissioner, DMVA position. Tom Katkus and his predecessors were dual-hatted as the TAG and commissioner. As has been recently demonstrated, absolute power indeed has the capability to corrupt absolutely. A number of other states have separated the two positions, and this has worked well. There are two plausible scenarios, each with its own advantages and drawbacks: TAG and commissioner are co-equal positions, or the TAG is subordinate to the commissioner, similar to the relationship at the federal level.
*  *  * 
6.  The commander-in-chief (our governor) must demand, receive and embrace unfettered access to Guard issues and take a personal and active part in restoring a culture of transparency. TAG and deputy commissioner have been removed, as others surely should be in the weeks ahead. The Guard is reeling. Despite the presence of the fix-it team from Outside, the Guard needs its commander-in-chief present in the JBER Armory and units around the state. He must offer to meet personally with the sexual assault victims and all members of the Guard family, listening to them, answering their questions and apologizing when necessary. To be effective, meetings must be small groups and be limited to same-rank peers. A massive “town hall” style meeting with privates through senior officers in the same room – which the governor held yesterday – doesn’t cut it. In an organization where fear of intimidation and reprisal is rampant, who believes lower ranking soldiers would speak up with sergeants major and officers present?  In addition to appearing personally, the governor should have a senior staff member available to any Guard member who wishes to have a confidential discussion outside the chain of command and without fear of disclosure. Without the commander-in-chief’s full commitment to having these difficult discussions, all other gestures of curing the command culture and rebuilding organizational trust and confidence will be insufficient.
This vet has plainly given the situation a good deal of thought. Some of what she describes seems unique to Alaska (pre-statehood legislation), but might other suggestions apply elsewhere? It certainly seems odd that only the governor can convene an Alaska general court-martial.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).