Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 120

01/27/2015 01:00 PM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS


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01:05:24 PM Start
01:06:09 PM Overview(s): Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
02:34:35 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Overview by Brigadier General Mike Bridges, TELECONFERENCED
Adjutant General & Commissioner, Alaska DMVA
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                        January 27, 2015                                                                                        
                           1:05 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bob Herron, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Jim Colver                                                                                                       
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Shelley Hughes                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
OVERVIEW(S):  DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL LEON M. "MIKE" BRIDGES                                                                                        
Acting Adjutant General/Commissioner                                                                                            
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs                                                                                     
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  As acting Adjutant General/Commissioner,                                                               
presented an overview of the Department of Military and Veterans                                                                
Affairs.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MIKE O'HARE, Acting Deputy Commissioner                                                                                         
Office of the Commissioner/Adjutant General                                                                                     
Department of Military & Veterans Affairs                                                                                       
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  As acting Deputy Commissioner, participated                                                            
in the overview of the Department of Military & Veterans                                                                        
Affairs.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:05:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR BOB HERRON  called the House Special  Committee on Military                                                             
and   Veterans'   Affairs  meeting   to   order   at  1:05   p.m.                                                               
Representatives LeDoux,  Tuck, Lynn,  Gruenberg, and  Herron were                                                               
present at the  call to order.  Representative  Colver arrived as                                                               
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
^OVERVIEW(S):  DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS                                                                      
   OVERVIEW(S):  DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS                                                                
                                                                                                                              
1:06:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
an overview of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:06:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL  LEON  M.   "MIKE"  BRIDGES,  Acting  Adjutant                                                               
General/Commissioner,   Department  of   Military  and   Veterans                                                               
Affairs  (DMVA), introduced  a PowerPoint  presentation entitled,                                                               
"Department of Military and Veterans  Affairs" and dated January,                                                               
2014  [sic].   Brigadier General  Bridges noted  his presentation                                                               
would be  an in-depth combination  of slides and  descriptions of                                                               
the critical mission components of  DMVA, which are the uniformed                                                               
and civilian divisions.  He  informed the committee DMVA consists                                                               
of  nearly  4,300  personnel,  the  majority  of  which  are  the                                                               
uniformed components  of the Alaska Army  National Guard (Guard),                                                               
the Air National  Guard (Guard), a small militia,  and the Alaska                                                               
State Defense Force.   The militia is composed  of volunteers and                                                               
is  available for  use  by the  governor  for homeland  emergency                                                               
response preparation and  response to emergencies.   He turned to                                                               
the dual  mission of the  National Guard, noting the  majority of                                                               
its  funding  is  from  the   federal  government  and  the  U.S.                                                               
Department   of  Defense   (DOD).     Topics   included  in   the                                                               
presentation  include:  the  Division   of  Homeland  Security  &                                                               
Emergency   Management  (DHS&EM),   the  Alaska   Military  Youth                                                               
Academy, and  the Office of  Veteran Affairs; and at  the request                                                               
of the governor, the Alaska  Aerospace Corporation will provide a                                                               
separate overview at  a later date.  The  DMVA Organization Chart                                                               
depicted its  top level  consisting of  the Commissioner/Adjutant                                                               
General,  Deputy Commissioner,  and  the U.S.  Property &  Fiscal                                                               
Officer, who  is the  agent that ensures  the state  uses federal                                                               
funds  correctly [slide  3].   Primary  components  of DMVA  are:                                                               
Alaska Army  National Guard, composed  of 1,900  soldiers; Alaska                                                               
Air National  Guard, composed of 2,100  airman; Homeland Security                                                               
& Emergency Management, a civilian  division to train communities                                                               
in disaster  preparedness; Alaska  Military Youth  Academy, which                                                               
is  not a  statutory  component  of DMVA,  but  is a  20-year-old                                                               
military-based training  program established  by Congress  to re-                                                               
direct high  school students to  obtain a high school  diploma or                                                               
general equivalency diploma (GED);  and a Veterans Affairs office                                                               
working to  connect veterans with federal  veterans' programs and                                                               
benefits, and continuing to register  Alaska veterans.  Brigadier                                                               
General  Bridges returned  to the  dual mission  of the  National                                                               
Guard, and  explained that  the federal mission  of the  Army and                                                               
Air National  Guard is to prepare  and fight wars.   Missions are                                                               
resourced and  directed primarily  by federal  agencies; however,                                                               
when  not mobilized  under federal  orders, the  governor is  the                                                               
commander-in-chief.    This   dual  responsibility  provides  the                                                               
governor  with  a  military  first-response  force  for  homeland                                                               
emergency  response, preparation,  or  other allowed  activities.                                                               
He   presented  an   illustration  of   the  state   and  federal                                                               
relationships  under  the  President  and  governors  [slide  5].                                                               
National  Guard  members swear  simultaneous  oaths  to both  the                                                               
national and  the state constitutions.   States, territories, and                                                               
the District  of Columbia  have an adjutant  general to  serve as                                                               
the  commander  of  the  Guard.   He  advised  that  without  the                                                               
hometown National  Guard, "The federal  military forces  would be                                                               
very separated  from its  citizens that  it's there  to protect."                                                               
The National  Guard is a link  because it is military  and also a                                                               
hometown  response  force  for   states  and  communities.    The                                                               
National Guard has been deployed  in military missions across the                                                               
world since  [the terrorist  attacks of  September 11,  2001]; in                                                               
fact, the Guard has been serving  in direct conflicts for over 13                                                               
years.     There  are  new   enlistments  ready  to   deploy  and                                                               
approximately 50  percent of the  members in the  Alaska National                                                               
Guard  have  active duty  experience.    He  provided a  list  of                                                               
several  domestic operations  and noted  that some  governors use                                                               
the Guard's uniform  presence to calm the population  in an event                                                               
[slide 8].   In Alaska, orders  go first to local  services, then                                                               
to regional,  state, and federal  agencies when  needed, although                                                               
local leaders remain  in charge.  The National Guard  is also the                                                               
conduit to federal Title 10  U.S. Code military resources such as                                                               
the Federal Emergency Management  Agency (FEMA) and other federal                                                               
programs in times of emergency response.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:16:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL BRIDGES  turned to the two wings  of the Alaska                                                               
Air  National Guard  [slide 9].    The 168th  Air Refueling  Wing                                                               
(ARW), based at Eielson Air Force  Base near North Pole, and with                                                               
a  unit  at Clear  Air  Force  Station,  is the  Pacific  theatre                                                               
commander's primary  air-refueling capability located  at Eielson                                                               
Air  Force  Base.    Personnel  at  Clear  and  one-half  of  the                                                               
personnel at the 168th ARW  are full-time National Guard members.                                                               
The 176th Wing (WG), the  most complex and biggest National Guard                                                               
air  wing in  the  nation,  is based  with  C-17 aircraft,  C-130                                                               
aircraft,   the  Rescue   Coordination   Center,  HC-130   rescue                                                               
helicopters,  and the  Air Defense  Squadron,  which defends  the                                                               
nation's  airspace  sovereignty of  North  America.   Alaska  Air                                                               
National Guard members  typically deploy from thirty  days to six                                                               
or nine  months, and sometimes  multiple times within one  or two                                                               
years.  The  deployment includes aircraft, and  members report to                                                               
a mission  theatre somewhere in  the world.   The following  is a                                                               
list of  operations deployed in  support of  overseas contingency                                                               
operations [slide 10]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
   · ADS:  24/7 Mission for Air Sovereignty - the air defense                                                                   
     mission                                                                                                                    
   · Rescue Forces:  24/7 Alert for 11 AF & CSAR - currently                                                                    
     deployed                                                                                                                   
   · KC-135:  Alert for NORAD and 11 AF                                                                                         
  · Clear AFS: 24/7 - mission for national strategic security                                                                   
   · C-17: Associate fully integrated with USAF - USAF cargo                                                                    
     jets that will be retired soon will be replaced with the C-                                                                
     17 fleet                                                                                                                   
   · State emergency response asset                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:20:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL  BRIDGES  presented  the major  units  of  the                                                               
Alaska  Army National  Guard, consisting  of approximately  1,900                                                               
members,  and  Joint  Forces   Headquarters,  consisting  of  the                                                               
command group  and primary senior  staff of  100 [slide 11].   He                                                               
advised that the 297th Battlefield  Surveillance Brigade has been                                                               
terminated by the  Army chief of staff which means  a loss of 760                                                               
in manpower and  some equipment stationed in  Alaska.  Resistance                                                               
to this loss has been offered  to the Army and the National Guard                                                               
Bureau (NGB), and  there is an effort to offset  the loss through                                                               
a  dual-capable structure  with  the  Army.   At  this time,  the                                                               
cavalry  squadron  would  be  replaced   with  a  light  infantry                                                               
battalion,  which would  be  a disadvantage  for  Alaska in  that                                                               
there would  be less equipment  for use by the  homeland security                                                               
mission.  Within the 38th Troop Command are:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
    ·  Black Hawk helicopter aviation battalion                                                                                 
    ·  Military Police (MP) battalion, which is being downsized                                                                 
      to a company without local headquarters                                                                                   
   ·  Civil Support Team, which is currently deployed in Guam                                                                   
    ·  Training Regiment, which is the officer and enlisted                                                                     
      training academy                                                                                                          
    ·  49th Ground-based Missile Defense Battalion at Fort                                                                      
      Greely, which is part of the national security strategy                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
 BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES pointed out  that Fort Greely  is due                                                               
 for  major   upgrades  of  its   missile  systems   and  related                                                               
 infrastructure, and growth is expected  in its national mission.                                                               
 He noted  that the big unit  deployments are gone; in  fact, the                                                               
 only deployments are  two Army Guardsmen in  Afghanistan and the                                                               
 Mongolian  partnership  unit.     However,  U. S.  Army  Pacific                                                               
 Command  (PACOM) and  others  in  the Lower  48  and Europe  are                                                               
 asking Alaska's units to participate  in training rotations, and                                                               
 these exercise  activities will  offset the  lack of  combat and                                                               
 equivalent  deployments.   The Guard  continues  to provide  the                                                               
 governor  with  ground  resources  and  helicopter  capabilities                                                               
 during local emergencies; for  example, firefighting last summer                                                               
 -  supplying   Black  Hawk  helicopters  and   pilots  to  local                                                               
 responders - was the most  recent large ground emergency.  Also,                                                               
 Alaska  National Guard  forces are  nested in  PACOM to  provide                                                               
 additional resources to the Army,  Marine Forces, Pacific Fleet,                                                               
 and Pacific Air Forces  in the Pacific Rim and Korea.    At this                                                               
 time,  the  Battlefield  Surveillance Brigade  partnership  with                                                               
 First Corps  continues.  Turning  to the civilian side  of DMVA,                                                               
 he  said  DHS&EM  is  the  civilian  team  that  prepares  local                                                               
 communities and  statewide emergency responders to  respond to a                                                               
 catastrophic disaster  [slide 13].     Included in  this mission                                                               
 are  infrastructure   evaluations  and   replacement  equipment.                                                               
 Other  agencies,  such  as  the Red  Cross,  are  organized  and                                                               
 managed  by  DHS&EM,  and  he  mentioned  ongoing  training  and                                                               
 relationships in  this regard.   Also, local  community planning                                                               
 committees  link into  the state  emergency response  commission                                                               
 for  a coordinated  civilian response:   the  Alaska Partnership                                                               
 for  Infrastructure   Protection  (APIP)  relates   to  critical                                                               
 infrastructure  that supports  life,  economic activity,  public                                                               
 safety,  and  public health,  and  how  to assess  and  mitigate                                                               
 potential  damage  to power  plants,  docks,  water systems  and                                                               
 other critical  systems.   The Guard has  been a  participant in                                                               
 exercises    to   prepare    for    disruptions   to    critical                                                               
 infrastructure.   He  related his  experience in  2012 providing                                                               
 support  to  Cordova   during  a  snow  emergency.     The  50th                                                               
 anniversary of the 1964 Alaska  earthquake was commemorated with                                                               
 an  exercise  to replicate  a  massive  earthquake and  tsunami;                                                               
 there were  10,000 people involved, including  many military and                                                               
 naval  components, FEMA,  and  civilian  agencies. The  exercise                                                               
 reopened  airports,  established  fuel  supplies,  replicated  a                                                               
 field  hospital with  mass casualties,  and other  services.   A                                                               
 future exercise in 2016 will stage a cyberattack.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:29:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  turned to  the Alaska  Military Youth                                                               
Academy, noting its 20th anniversary.   The academy has graduated                                                               
nearly 4,500  cadets.   The academy  accepts 16-  to 18-year-olds                                                               
who have  left high school  and he described the  educational and                                                               
physical  activities  of  the  youth  academy.  Cadets  are  also                                                               
required  to  complete  an extensive  public  service  component.                                                               
There are  two classes per year  with the goal of  graduating 144                                                               
cadets Veteran  Affairs per  course [slides  16-17].    Regarding                                                               
the  Office of,  he said  a small  staff works  to attend  to the                                                               
needs of 77,000 veterans in  Alaska to ensure they are registered                                                               
with the federal  office and receive their earned  benefits.  The                                                               
outreach program  is locating many Vietnam-era  veterans in rural                                                               
areas  who  need services.    The  office received  a  three-year                                                               
$750,000 transportation grant to enable  veterans who live on the                                                               
road system to travel for care  on a regular basis.  He commended                                                               
the staff of the Office of Veterans Affairs.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:33:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  addressed the  National Guard  Bureau                                                               
(NGB)  Office of  Complex Investigations  (OCI) report  on sexual                                                               
assault [slide 21].  He remarked:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     This is  the stuff  that's been in  the media  the last                                                                    
     several  months -  it has  shaken us  to our  core.   A                                                                    
     handful  of  folks  joined  our  ranks  while  we  were                                                                    
     deploying.  They came to us  from active duty ... and a                                                                    
     few of  them proved that  they're predators.   And over                                                                    
     time,  some folks  who could  [have] and  should [have]                                                                    
     done something  about that did not  do so sufficiently,                                                                    
     and  some of  our folks  paid  a dear  price for  that.                                                                    
     This is  what we  call an insider  attack, this  is not                                                                    
     just unique to the Alaska  National Guard, it's a [U.S.                                                                    
     Department of Defense]-wide issue.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  continued  to explain  that prior  to                                                               
three years  ago DOD training  for sexual assault  prevention and                                                               
response was a  briefing once per year.  There  was no method for                                                               
in-depth  training of  forces  or education  on  how to  prevent,                                                               
intervene,  and respond  to a  sexual assault  of any  kind.   He                                                               
compared DOD's definition  of sexual assault to  that of civilian                                                               
law enforcement, and  opined the difference led  to confusion for                                                               
many.    The  Alaska  National  Guard  now  has  a  very  strong,                                                               
competent,    and   well-regarded    sexual   assault    response                                                               
coordination  office, prevention  program, training  program, and                                                               
victim advocate program, and capabilities  with other agencies in                                                               
Alaska   to  respond   to  sexual   assaults,  including   direct                                                               
coordination  with   law  enforcement.    Previously,   this  was                                                               
informal  and  coincidental.     Because  of  the  education  and                                                               
training  of the  last  two years  there are  now  people in  the                                                               
Guard, or other service components  in Alaska, coming to the team                                                               
and asking  for help due  to prior  sexual assaults.   He pointed                                                               
out that  people are now  willing to  trust the Guard  program to                                                               
help with their  recovery.  Turning to other areas  of concern in                                                               
the   report  -   command  climate,   lack  of   transparency  in                                                               
promotions, reprisal -  he said over the last  several months the                                                               
Guard has received  assistance from experts of the  NGB and other                                                               
states on topics  such as equal opportunity for  employment.  The                                                               
Guard's  human  resources office  has  never  had an  established                                                               
equal  employment opportunity  program; however,  the office  now                                                               
has a  full-time equal employment  manager and a deputy,  and has                                                               
trained  40 equal  employment advisors,  or liaisons,  within its                                                               
ranks  over the  last three  months.   The ongoing  education and                                                               
training  of  each member  of  the  Guard includes  training  for                                                               
civilian  employees  against  "frat house  shenanigans  ...  it's                                                               
inappropriate  in the  workplace.   It can  be bullying,  hazing,                                                               
sexual  harassment -  it  matters  not.   It's  still an  insider                                                               
attack  and  it's  wrong."   Full-time  staffing  resources  have                                                               
changed  to  trained  and vetted  professionals  to  ensure  they                                                               
belong in their  positions.  In the past, employees  have not had                                                               
the education  or demeanor to  be an equal employment  advisor or                                                               
liaison, or a sexual assault  victim advocate.  Further indicated                                                               
in the  OCI report was  the potential for  fraud.  Last  month, a                                                               
brief was received  from a special assessment  office in internal                                                               
review and audit at NGB  related to Alaska National Guard federal                                                               
funds for  facilities maintenance  and management, and  the state                                                               
facilities management  division.   Federal funds are  the primary                                                               
source  for the  Guard's  facility  maintenance and  construction                                                               
funds.  In the past,  state employees working as contractors have                                                               
taken charge of the use of  federal funds in contradiction to the                                                               
guidance rules on restrictions for the  use of federal funds.  As                                                               
a result of  the audit, there is now openness  and a coordination                                                               
between NGB and the state budget team.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:40:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL  BRIDGES  turned  to the  finding  of  command                                                               
climate and  stated the following  simple open-door policy:   Any                                                               
member of the department can  approach senior leadership, without                                                               
fear of  reprisal or retribution,  to report wrongdoing.   It was                                                               
determined  that the  existing military  format open-door  policy                                                               
was  "a non-starter  in the  current era  of communications,  and                                                               
people just didn't want to use it  because it said you must go to                                                               
your chain  of command first."   Research led to a  new open-door                                                               
policy which  is now in  use at DMVA and  which means one  can go                                                               
straight  to the  top  to be  heard, and  one  is protected  from                                                               
reprisals by supervisors.  Brigadier  General Bridges stated that                                                               
the aforementioned  were the  key parts of  the OCI  findings and                                                               
recommendations.    He  assured   the  committee  assistance  was                                                               
received by experts to assess  and create programs for the Alaska                                                               
National Guard.   Junior members were included  in advisory teams                                                               
that were  formed from the  Army Guard, the Air  Guard, retirees,                                                               
and civilians,  representing every  section of  DMVA.   There are                                                               
six  primary  areas of  concern  identified  by the  OCI  report:                                                               
sexual   assault;  equal   opportunity;  coordination   with  law                                                               
enforcement;  command climate;  application of  military justice;                                                               
fraud  [slide 24].    He addressed  the  application of  military                                                               
justice  and advised  that the  discipline  of one  in the  Guard                                                               
follows the  federal path  of the  Army regulations  on personnel                                                               
discipline,   and  the   Air  Force   instruction  on   personnel                                                               
discipline, which are  complex but effective.  If  a Guardsman is                                                               
suspected of  committing a crime,  the case would be  referred to                                                               
civil law  enforcement at  the local  and state  level, and  on a                                                               
federal  military  installation  cases  can be  referred  to  the                                                               
Criminal Investigation  Division (CID)  of the Federal  Bureau of                                                               
Investigation (FBI).   This  is because the  Guard does  not have                                                               
the  tools to  prosecute  in Alaska;  in fact,  there  is only  a                                                               
territorial military  code written in  1955 that has  "no teeth."                                                               
He described  the military  codes used by  the National  Guard in                                                               
Washington  and Oregon.   Brigadier  General Bridges  advised the                                                               
Alaska military code  has never been implemented,  and urged that                                                               
the state  develop a code  and the  capacity to prosecute  by the                                                               
military militia under state government.  He remarked:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Even  with calling  the cops,  and  having a  [district                                                                    
     attorney] pursue a  potential prosecution, because it's                                                                    
     a federal uniformed military member,  we're going to do                                                                    
     a parallel action, with the  Army regulation or the Air                                                                    
     Force  instruction,  to  penalize a  miscreant  on  the                                                                    
     military side.   And that can be as little  as a letter                                                                    
     of concern, all  the way to the most  extreme, which is                                                                    
     an  other  than   honorable  discharge  -  dishonorable                                                                    
     discharge  if it  was a  federal Title  10 member.  ...                                                                    
     That's what we're  doing with a lot of  these folks who                                                                    
     have made the media recently  and have been part of the                                                                    
     recent chaos  ....  ...   These cases are  as difficult                                                                    
     to prosecute via  that as they are  through civil court                                                                    
     or through a state  [Uniform Code of Military Justice],                                                                    
     they  cannot  be  talked  about  in  the  open  because                                                                    
     they're   personnel  administrative   actions,  they're                                                                    
     protected by the federal privacy act and so forth.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  stressed  that  other than  honorable                                                               
(OTH) discharges  cannot legally  be revealed.     Another action                                                               
taken by the  Guard for the first time is  the establishment of a                                                               
provost marshal's office  to coordinate with local  and state law                                                               
enforcement; memorandums  of agreement  with local and  state law                                                               
enforcement, and the  Department of Law (DOL),  will be developed                                                               
to direct how  crimes that have been committed by  members of the                                                               
Guard will  be handled.   He referred  to a current  situation in                                                               
Kake that involved a Guardsman at work in his civilian capacity.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:49:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  displayed a  timeline that  concluded                                                               
with  a feedback  assessment from  Alaska  National Guard  troops                                                               
[slide 25].   He said his command philosophy is  as follows:  The                                                               
Alaska National Guard is a  premier force; driven by core values;                                                               
empowered  by trust,  dignity, respect;  ready  and relevant  for                                                               
service to the state and the nation.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:50:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HERRON  recalled that  representatives  of  DOD will  hold                                                               
"listening  sessions" on  2/23-24/15.   He acknowledged  that the                                                               
Alaska  Army National  Guard is  preparing for  troop reductions,                                                               
and  asked whether  the communities  of  Anchorage and  Fairbanks                                                               
should  take the  opportunity to  demonstrate at  these listening                                                               
sessions how  both communities benefit  from the presence  of the                                                               
Army.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL BRIDGES  said absolutely.  He  cautioned that a                                                               
loss of  a brigade combat  team in either Fairbanks  or Anchorage                                                               
would  result   in  economic  impact,   the  loss   of  emergency                                                               
responders, and a loss of  training with active duty partners; in                                                               
fact, the partnership  between the active military  and the Guard                                                               
in Alaska  "has never been  better."  The organizations  now work                                                               
and train  together to  support long-range missions.   If  one of                                                               
the  brigades is  transferred, the  impact is  not just  to 5,300                                                               
soldiers   but  to   their   families,   schools,  and   business                                                               
communities.    There   would  also  be  cuts   to  the  civilian                                                               
employment force on  the base.  In addition, many  members of the                                                               
military stay  in Alaska after  their tour  of duty.   In further                                                               
response to Chair  Herron, he confirmed that DOD  has ordered the                                                               
Guard to prepare for possible reductions in troops.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:53:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE   O'HARE,  Acting   Deputy  Commissioner,   Office  of   the                                                               
Commissioner/Adjutant  General, DMVA,  informed the  committee it                                                               
is important for  Anchorage and Fairbanks to  promote the concept                                                               
that it is  good for the Army  to stay in Alaska  by pointing out                                                               
reasons, such  as the  training facilities  at the  Joint Pacific                                                               
Alaska Range  Complex (JPARC), winter maneuvers,  the only Arctic                                                               
area of operations in the  U.S., support from the National Guard,                                                               
and its close partnerships with many agencies in Alaska.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HERRON questioned  whether frequent  deployments that  can                                                               
lead to fatigue continue to be a concern.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES explained that there  are no mandatory                                                               
or directed  deployments for  units or  individuals.   During the                                                               
years after  2005 -  across DOD  - the  strength of  the military                                                               
grew  along  with  increased  training   money  and  bonuses  for                                                               
overseas combat; at this point  the Alaska Army National Guard is                                                               
at over  100 percent strength.   As deployments and  bonuses have                                                               
been  lost,  overseas  exercise   rotations  have  been  offered.                                                               
Regarding fatigue,  he said  a few  aviation units  were deployed                                                               
three to four times, but no  one person - unless they volunteered                                                               
- has  gone on more than  two deployments over the  last thirteen                                                               
years.   He  estimated one  hundred members  have three  and four                                                               
deployments due to the good  paycheck, the combat experience, and                                                               
the adrenalin rush.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX expressed  her  interest  in working  with                                                               
DMVA to  rewrite the military code  to make it into  a better and                                                               
more workable document.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES said  he would  be available  over the                                                               
next several weeks.   He advised that senior  legal advisors from                                                               
NGB, and legal teams from  California and Arizona, have presented                                                               
the best recommended  model uniform code, which  must be adjusted                                                               
for Alaska  in coordination  with the  governor's office  and the                                                               
legislature.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:59:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  recalled that the Guard  wants the ability                                                               
to prosecute.   She  questioned whether  this ability  would have                                                               
made a difference in prosecuting "bad actors at the top."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  said  prosecution and  administrative                                                               
discipline are  different; however,  if victims or  witnesses are                                                               
afraid to  come forward there  is nothing  to prosecute.   A case                                                               
must be sufficient to go to a  grand jury, and in the past people                                                               
were unwilling to  provide proof of an incident or  event.  There                                                               
is no  difference whether  under a state  military code  or under                                                               
law  enforcement.      A  state  military  code  or  disciplinary                                                               
regulation  is  helpful  because  the violation  can  be  of  the                                                               
military good  order and discipline of  a militia member.    If a                                                               
crime is committed that is  prosecutable under civil law, "That's                                                               
where it  should go," he said.   When a member  breaks the rules,                                                               
the uniform  military code and the  federal military disciplinary                                                               
regulations  will appropriately  discipline  in  addition to,  or                                                               
along, with civil penalties.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  surmised that in  the case of a  rape, the                                                               
Guard does not want to prosecute.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  responded  that the  Guard wants  the                                                               
civil  authorities  to prosecute,  and  sufficient  power in  the                                                               
military regulations and in a  state military code to ensure that                                                               
an offender's military  career is affected.   In further response                                                               
to Representative LeDoux, he described  an example of a violation                                                               
of good order and  discipline.  There is not a  code in the Guard                                                               
in Alaska to deal with the aforementioned violation.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES, in  response to  Representative Tuck,                                                               
said   previous   to  his   current   position   as  the   Acting                                                               
Commissioner/Adjutant  General, he  was the  Army National  Guard                                                               
Commander.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:04:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked for  clarification of Brigadier General                                                               
Bridges'   remarks  about   "insider   attacks,  predators   from                                                               
outside."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  said  he was  primarily referring  to                                                               
recruiters who  "interservice transferred" from active  duty into                                                               
the  Guard  during  the  peak  of  the  Alaska  National  Guard's                                                               
deployments.  He said, "They  joined our recruiting team and they                                                               
set up  shop and became predators."   He restated that  they came                                                               
from the same unit of an active duty brigade.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  questioned  why there  are  no  regulations                                                               
written and an outside investigation into DMVA is needed.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL BRIDGES remarked:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Again, the  three-legged part of  this:  the  regs, the                                                                    
     Army  regulations for  personnel discipline,  personnel                                                                    
     actions, is  one tool that's  always been there.   It's                                                                    
     difficult  and hard  work,  and a  lot  of people  just                                                                    
     didn't  bother to  take the  time to  use that  for the                                                                    
     control  within the  regulatory process  of good  order                                                                    
     discipline.   You  have to  do  the whole  thing.   You                                                                    
     still have  to do  the investigatory process,  then you                                                                    
     have  to apply  the level  of discipline  based on  the                                                                    
     offense.   And again, it  can come, start, at  a verbal                                                                    
     warning to a letter of concern,  all the way up to that                                                                    
     ultimate  -  as  I  mentioned -  other  than  honorable                                                                    
     discharge.  Our  state has only ever  had one full-time                                                                    
     staff  judge  advocate  officer for  20  years.    That                                                                    
     person  was  the  first  person   I  relieved  back  in                                                                    
     September, from  duties, for doing a  poor job advising                                                                    
     and supporting those disciplinary actions.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  pointed  out  that  Alaska  National  Guard                                                               
members  are  state employees  and  opined  this is  a  personnel                                                               
management issue, in  addition to the lack of  the application of                                                               
the military  code of justice.   Referring to the OCI  report, he                                                               
urged  for a  committee meeting  to discuss  the elements  of the                                                               
report and  its recommendations.  Representative  Tuck encouraged                                                               
others to  read the report,  and surmised that  equal opportunity                                                               
in employment is a cultural problem that goes back years.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:08:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON agreed that this is  an important issue that will be                                                               
addressed by  the legislature.   In the House,  three committees,                                                               
the House  Special Committee on  Military and  Veterans' Affairs,                                                               
the  House  State  Affairs  Standing  Committee,  and  the  House                                                               
Judiciary  Standing   Committee  will  conduct  reviews   in  the                                                               
appropriate venues.  In further  response to Representative Tuck,                                                               
he said he would consider convening  a meeting to discuss the OCI                                                               
report after consulting with the other committee chairs.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'HARE suggested  looking at a report on the  OCI report, and                                                               
also looking at a report on the progress of the recommendations.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  expressed  concern about  the  Guard's  new                                                               
position  of  provost  marshal because  that  position  is  still                                                               
within the ranks  of the Guard.  Legislators want  to ensure that                                                               
people  have  the opportunity  to  freely  come forward,  and  he                                                               
warned that "our  investigations have been botched  ... even with                                                               
civilian  police forces,  because there  has just  been too  much                                                               
interaction."   He  said, "  ... and  I will  tell you  that cops                                                               
probably don't  like to  investigate National  Guardsmen either."                                                               
Representative Tuck opined there has been collusion.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON cautioned Representative Tuck's comments.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES said he  was prepared to  discuss with                                                               
the committee and other legislators  corrective actions that have                                                               
occurred.  He  said he would show the  committee that transitions                                                               
of key areas  of concern have been  set up in the  open so people                                                               
can  see how  changes and  corrections  have been  effected.   In                                                               
addition, he offered to provide  witnesses to answer legislators'                                                               
questions this week.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:11:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  agreed that  this is  a major  issue on                                                               
which the three aforementioned committees  can work together.  He                                                               
recalled the initial introduction  of the House Special Committee                                                               
on  Military and  Veterans' Affairs  to the  National Guard,  and                                                               
observed that the committee  has addressed emergency preparedness                                                               
and veteran's  issues.  He  suggested that the committee  look at                                                               
the organization  of DMVA and  raised the question as  to whether                                                               
the  Office   of  Veterans  Affairs   may  not   have  sufficient                                                               
facilities to serve  senior veterans.  Other  upcoming issues are                                                               
the  aging  population in  general,  the  downsizing of  military                                                               
bases, and the need for naval facilities in the Arctic.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:16:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  noted that  the  governor  has appointed  a                                                               
special  investigator and  asked  whether there  is an  estimated                                                               
date for the completion of her investigation.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES said he  has been in contact  with the                                                               
special  investigator and  his understanding  is that  an initial                                                               
report will be issued in April.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  was  supportive  of the  appointment  of  a                                                               
special  investigator   to  determine  the  facts;   however,  he                                                               
expressed his  concern about how  the legislature can  "get ahead                                                               
of the train"  and make new policy or  legislation without access                                                               
to all of the facts.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL BRIDGES  pointed out  that the  OCI assessment                                                               
and  its recommendations  are available  to each  committee.   He                                                               
suggested  that  the  chair  of  each  committee  meet  with  the                                                               
governor  about  sharing   the  special  investigator's  progress                                                               
reports.     As  acting  commissioner,   he  will   be  providing                                                               
information to the  special investigator at the  direction of the                                                               
governor.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'HARE  said his  job as acting  deputy commissioner  - along                                                               
with the  acting commissioner -  is to provide continuity  in the                                                               
department, and to make sure  that the recommendations of the OCI                                                               
investigation "are being moved forward."   The governor's special                                                               
investigation  will   determine  the   history  and   the  acting                                                               
commissioner and  he will continue  with the  OCI investigation's                                                               
recommendations for improvement and to rebuild "a good team."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HERRON cautioned  that the  legislature does  not want  to                                                               
injure  the  investigation, or  reinjure  the  victims, and  thus                                                               
should not rush but fix the problem correctly.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN agreed.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES stressed  that because  sexual assault                                                               
was  "a DOD-wide  thing," the  NGB provided  assessment teams  to                                                               
review sexual  assault-specific and equal  employment opportunity                                                               
(EEO) related concerns and Alaska  was the third state to receive                                                               
an  assessment.    The   assessments  make  recommendations;  the                                                               
assessment  was   requested  by  former  Governor   Parnell,  who                                                               
presented the assessment to the  community.  After the transition                                                               
to a new administration, Governor  Walker was briefed in December                                                               
by OCI  and a NGB  vice-chief.   The briefing noted  changes that                                                               
have been  made in Alaska  and that  a change in  command climate                                                               
will take longer.   Within the Alaska  National Guard, functional                                                               
development and improvement teams are in place.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said there are several investigating groups.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:23:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  BRIDGES said,  "That's just  it, we  have been                                                               
investigated infinitum over the last  year, and the facts are the                                                               
facts, they're not really going  to change, they'll evolve as we,                                                               
as we  deal with  disciplinary things  or corrective  actions and                                                               
processes."    In further  response  to  Representative Lynn,  he                                                               
stated   that  the   special  investigator   will  look   at  law                                                               
enforcement  as  a program  area  of  concern,  in fact,  he  has                                                               
introduced her to the provost  marshal team, and the investigator                                                               
will look  at the linkages  and agreements with  law enforcement,                                                               
from DOL to the local level.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  restated   his  concern  about  intelligent                                                               
legislation without all of the facts.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL  BRIDGES  suggested  that the  state  will  be                                                               
moving from  the territorial  code to "something  of use  for the                                                               
21st century for the Alaska National  Guard and DMVA."  There are                                                               
great models to use and turn into proper legislation.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'HARE  offered to  work with the  committee and  has offered                                                               
the  investigator  resources  from  the department  in  order  to                                                               
complete a thorough investigation and improve DMVA.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether  the special investigator has                                                               
subpoena power.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  O'HARE said  the special  investigator  is working  directly                                                               
with  the attorney  general's office,  which has  subpoena power.                                                               
He offered to provide an answer to the committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  then  asked  if, under  military  law  or                                                               
National Guard law, there is  an obligation to report wrongdoing.                                                               
She recalled a cheating scandal at the U.S. Air Force Academy.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER  GENERAL  BRIDGES  offered  the  code  of  the  federal                                                               
academies:  I  will not lie, cheat, or steal,  nor tolerate those                                                               
who do.   This is the same code as  the federal officer candidate                                                               
school  and is  an  oath that  every service  member  takes.   In                                                               
addition,  as part  of the  recovery program,  he has  directed a                                                               
policy memo that  requires a member to  self-report violations of                                                               
law.  In further response  to Representative LeDoux, he said this                                                               
also applies  to reporting on  others; however, action  is always                                                               
up to the individual.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  surmised that, other than  at the military                                                               
academies, military law does not require [reporting].                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL BRIDGES  said it is inherent  that the military                                                               
oath of service cannot force one to speak.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:29:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX remarked,                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     But if  you find  out that somebody  knew, and  did not                                                                    
     report, then that is ....                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL BRIDGES responded,                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Then  using  the  military good  order  and  discipline                                                                    
     regulations  and guidance,  and  potentially a  uniform                                                                    
     code of military justice, we  might be able to penalize                                                                    
     that person, or discipline  that person for 'failure to                                                                    
     act' I think is the term.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX continued,                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Would  you  be able  to  do  that retroactively?    So,                                                                    
     suppose  we  amended  this,   this  military  code  and                                                                    
     suppose  we find  out  through  the investigation  that                                                                    
     there were  a number of -  and it would probably  be of                                                                    
     the  officer  corps as  opposed  to  the, the  enlisted                                                                    
     people -  that there were  a number of people  who knew                                                                    
     what was  going on and  didn't say anything.   Would we                                                                    
     be able to do anything?                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL BRIDGES said he did not know.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:30:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COLVER   agreed   with   letting   the   special                                                               
investigator prepare a report and,  based on its recommendations,                                                               
during interim the committee would  respond with options for next                                                               
session.   As the Representative  for Fort Greely,  he recognized                                                               
the  importance of  the Alaska  Army  Guard and  the 49th  Ground                                                               
Missile Defense Battalion, and suggested  that the committee tour                                                               
the missile expansion.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON said a tour is an excellent idea.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   TUCK   commended   the  OCI   report   and   its                                                               
recommendations, and said  he was glad the National  Guard is not                                                               
waiting  for  another investigation  before  taking  action.   He                                                               
opined the special  investigation will look at  violations of law                                                               
more   than  the   facts,  and   opposed  waiting   for  interim.                                                               
Representative Tuck told a story about changing culture.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON expressed his belief  that Brigadier General Bridges                                                               
is going in the right direction.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:34:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs meeting was                                                                 
adjourned at 2:34 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
House MVA 1.27.15 - DMVA Overview.pdf HMLV 1/27/2015 1:00:00 PM
NGB Review of Assessment of AKNG.pdf HMLV 1/27/2015 1:00:00 PM
Key messages 15 Dec 14.pdf HMLV 1/27/2015 1:00:00 PM