Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DMVA moves to eliminate ASDF . . .

For some reason as yet unstated, Gov. Sean Parnell's DMVA under BG Tom Katkus, ARNG, has decided to disrespect and humiliate the Alaska State Defense Force.
Given ASDF's leadership woes, some organizational nose drubbing is deserved. However, such would only serve to ignore DMVA's part in creating ASDF's leadership crisis. Since 2005, former DMVA Commissioner and Adjutant General Craig Campbell has known of the failures in leadership on the part of ASDF's former commander. For whatever reason, Craig Campbell chose to ignore those failures.
ASDF has served the State of Alaska well over the years, saving the State hundreds of thousands of dollars in manpower costs for disaster response. In 2006, ASDF demonstrated the viability of a state military police organization serving to support the AST and local police departments as set forth under AS 26.05.076.
ASDF was deployed 3 times in 2006 in disaster response duties. ASDF served in 2006 at Valdez, Houston and the Hooper Bay Fire aftermath. The deployment of ASDF personnel to State Active Duty kept the Alaska State Troopers from the Glennallen Detachment, the Valdez Police Dept. and the Houston Police Dept. on the job protecting their communities instead of tying up manpower at check points for flood safety duty, or requiring AST to station a Trooper in Hooper Bay.
At Valdez, ASDF personnel took the place of DOT personnel who would have otherwise had to be transferred in from other DOT locations in the State. The use of ASDF meant a that there was no reduction in services to those communities served by the DOT personnel who would have been transferred for Valdez flood duty. DOT estimated that ASDF saved DOT at least $100,000 in manpower costs by manning DOT check points.
ASDF has performed many other State disaster relief and public service duties over the years. The Iditarod Restart and the Special Olympics are two public functions where ASDF personnel volunteer to serve each year. During the Orange Alert of Dec., 2003-Jan., 2004, ASDF was called to State Active Duty with the Army National Guard for armed security service at the Yukon River Bridge and at Valdez Terminal. ASDF members participating, like their National Guard counterparts, were awarded the Homeland Security Medal for what became known as Winter Talon. Another call up was for the Turnagin Pass avalanche disaster that buried 5 snowmachiners.
ASDF was first armed by then Governor Tony Knowles when he called ASDF to duty at the Yukon River Bridge post 9-11. Gov. Knowles, a RVN combat veteran, believed that unarmed troops were just victims waiting to happen.
As a result of actions taken against yours truly in November, 2007 to prevent the outing of an illegal and out of compliance use of force policy by a subordinate unit, and as a result of a April, 2007 complaint to the governor made by myself regarding the lack of accountability and conduct of the then ASDF commanding officer, an investigation was performed by an out of state Army National Guard JAG officer from Washington State. This investigation was unprecendented in the history of ASDF, much less the State Guards of the 22 States that maintain such State only forces.
One of the allegations to then Gov. Sarah Palin was the misrepresentation of manpower estimates made by the ASDF commander and his staff to DMVA in monthly reports. Normally, such conduct would be considered a serious breach of responsibility and ethics. However, in Craig Campbell's DMVA, such conduct on the part of ASDF's then commander was the norm.
MAJ Matthew Cooper recommended changes to ASDF. One of the more incredible recommendations was the change from a State Military Police Brigade to a Civil Affairs Brigade. This in the face of AS 26.05.076 and a March 30, 2006 Attorney General's Opinion confirming ASDF's role as a State police force when called to State Active Duty under a declaration of emergency. This recommendation was made using the specious excuse of risk management, totally ignoring ASDF's indeminificaiton under AS 26.05. Then Commissioner/TAG Craig Campbell acted upon these recommendations initially disarming ASDF and halting all Military Police training by the various units. However, those restrictions were lifted after October, 2008.
The intriguing thing about what happened in 2007-2008 with the investigations ordered by then MG Craig Campbell, Commissioner/TAG DMVA, was the use of an out of state ARNG JAG officer to conduct an investigation into a USC 32 Sec. 109(c) state guard/state defense force organization having no affiliation with the National Guard Bureau or U.S. Army in any manner form or way. I believe the investigations should have been civil in nature, given the nature of the allegations, and conducted by State of Alaska civilian investigators. By keeping the issue entirely under the TAG's office, the Governor's office has been prevented from acting fully, had an investigation been called for, for example, by the DOT Commissioner for alleged improprieties in DOT. Civilian politicians without miltiary experience are loath to challenge the military on any issue. By keeping the investigations miltiary, Craig Campbell was able to protect the former commander of ASDF, and to cover up Campbell's failures in requiring performance and accountability from ASDF's leadership.
All Craig Campbell had to do to remedy ASDF's leadership problems was to require personnel policies, manuals, regulations, and other common administrative tools to be instituted at ASDF. After all, ASDF's then commander and the present commander are both attorneys. One would think that such would be one of the first priorities on their part. Unfortunately for ASDF's personnel, such administrative rules would have eliminated the lack of accountability and the capricious nature of the application of leadership at ASDF. All ASDF needed was good leadership and some oversight on the part of DMVA. Instead, ASDF has received meager support and non-existent oversight.
The commander of ASDF appointed by Frank Murkowski and again by Sarah Palin operated on verbal orders and innuendo, creating a lack of accountability and mistrust. This individual resigned in October, 2008. However, the administrative changes recommended by yours truly and ordered by then LTG Craig Campbell have yet to be implemented.
The State Guards pursuant to USC 32 Sec. 109(c) are not federal anything. They are constructs of their respective states, only, without federal funding or other obligation that would subordinate or otherwise affiliate them with the federal DOD. Therefore, why was a federal ARNG officer selected to investigate an organization for which he had little or no knowledge and understanding?
What were any potential conflicting imperatives that might have resulted in the degrading of ASDF's mission to the State?
Unfortunately, the U.S. Army has a long institutional memory. Believe it or not, the USA is no fan or supporter of the USC 32 Sec. 109(c) State Guards. It was the State Guard (militias) of the southern states that coaesced into the Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederate Army that met the blue bellies at Bull Run and which bloodied the Union Army until Gettysberg. The blue bellies have not forgotten, nor forgiven. Hence, the ever present disdain and distrust of the State Guards by the National Guard Bureau and the regular Army.
Yet, the State Guards are comprised by retired and former military personnel and police officers to a great extent. Virtually every trade and profession is represented in the membership of a State Guard. These people represent a vast wealth of information, experience and know how. One would think that such potential would be honored instead of demeaned, as is happening with ASDF under Parnell and Katkus.
There was a respite in this attitude with the War on Terror. In November, 2005, a report to Congress was written by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security that outlined the role of State Guards in homeland defense. The report further stated that DOD was willing to entertain on requests for U.S. military surplus material and training support to the State Guards of the various States by submitting a request for such support through the State's Adjutant General. No State Guard has ever acted upon this potential to my knowledge, as the Adjutant General's answer to both the governor of that state and the National Guard Bureau. The NGB is absolutely opposed to the use of State Guards. They want to keep all militia forces FEDERAL.
The NGB is very jealous of the State Guards, as the State Guards perform without federal support and are independent of the federal chain of command. Again, the lesson of the Civil War rears its ugly head.
Now, under Gov. Sean Parnell, DMVA under Commissioner/TAG Tom Katkus is acting to fully disarm ASDF, restrict ASDF personnel from any training, and to take away the ability of ASDF to wear the Army Uniform pursuant to AR670-1 Chapt. 30-8(c), p316. To what end is this being accomplished and why?
Obviously, to accomplish the goals of the NGB where the elimination of the State Guards are concerned.
The lessons of the War on Terror are clear. The United States military is stretched with two realitively low tempo theaters of operation in OIF and OEF. Low tempo compared with RVN, Korea or WWII. Now that OIF is ending operationally, more troops are available for OEF. In 2006, the State of Alaska was berift of troops. Reserve and active duty components were committed to Kosovo, OIF and OEF. Alaska was literally left with only the ASDF as the final line of defense on the ground.
The Alaska Army National Guard was reorganized in 2006-2007 to include Military Police battalions that were not previously part of the AK ARNG's force structure. These units were formed in response to the need to secure Ft. Greely's missile defense system and to provide MP units for deployment overseas, given the lessons of OIF in the aftermath of the anarch resulting from the defeat of Saddam's army. For some reason, BG Tom Katkus feels that these FEDERAL troops can be used as were ASDF personnel used time and again to perform civil police missions pursuant to AS 26.05.076. For this reason, he is slowly conducting a pogrom to eliminate ASDF from Alaska's emergency response force structure. The Army never forgets.
Alaska is unlike any other State in North America. We are separated geographically from the Outside. Without ASDF, Alaska loses a valuable resource that has been used to supplement the very ARNG troops that will always be at the beck and call of a federal government, and not our Governor. The only troops the Governor has that are Alaska's, are ASDF's troops. Now, Parnell and Tom Katkus want to end ASDF.
If the regular federal troops are deployed overseas, and the National Guard is called to national duty, who then will stand for Alaska and guard our oil and gas and transportation infrastructure if ASDF is eliminated?
Who will stand with our civil emergency response to support them in time of natural disaster if ASDF is elminated?
ASDF has performed with a State budget of less than $30,000 per year, maintaining over 100 personnel active with another 75-100 partially active, all trained and deployable. ASDF personnel have over 100 hours of Law Enforcement training with quarterly firearms qualifications and a yearly recertification for qualified MP Constables. All of which was accomplished out of the resources of the individual ASDF members, not by anything given by the State. In 2006, the NAACP Band received $33,000 from the State while ASDF received $26,000 for administrative support.
ASDF personnel provide their own transportation, training, equipment, firearms and ammunition at no cost to the State. The average cost of the equipment and arms alone is over $4,000 per individual ASDF volunteer soldier.
Does the Army National Guard soldier attend drill without benefits or compensation? Does the ARNG soldier pay for his own weapon and provide his own ammunition, gear, and transportation for training or call up to State Active Duty? NO, the ARNG troop does not.
Now, Gov. Sean Parnell's Commissioner/TAG wants to eliminate ASDF?
The reality of disaster response is that there is never enough assets. Yet, this governor and his TAG/Commissioner want to REDUCE those assets by eliminating the Alaska State Defense Force. What?!!!
This idiocy makes my case for separating the Commissioner and the Adjutant General (TAG) office back into separate offices with the TAG subordinate to the civilian Commissioner, just as it was before Gov. Frank Murkowski combined the two in what has become a failed experiment.
I guess next disaster response, Gov. Sean Parnell and BG Tom Katkus can call up the NAACP Band.