Legislature(2015 - 2016)ANCH LIO AUDITORIUM

10/14/2015 09:30 AM MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
09:31:31 AM Start
09:32:07 AM Overview(s) Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs
11:04:09 AM HB126
12:04:41 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Dept. of Military & Veterans' Affairs Overview: TELECONFERENCED
9:30 am - Office of the Commissioner: Core
Values, Guiding Principles & Rural Engagement
9:40 am - Division of Homeland Security &
Emergency Management
10:00 am - Office of Veterans' Services
10:15 am - Army National Guard
10:35 am - Air National Guard
10:55 am - Presentation on HB 126 - Alaska Code
of Military Justice
11:10 am - Alaska State Defense Force
11:20 am - Alaska Military Youth Academy
-- Public Testimony: 11:30 am - 12 pm --
**Following Meeting at 12:15pm: Dept. of Military
& Veterans' Affairs Legislative Open House to
Tour various DMVA & National Guard facilities**
*Transport & lunch on base provided. Please RSVP*
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
   HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON MILITARY AND VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                  
                       Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                        
                        October 14, 2015                                                                                        
                           9:31 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bob Herron, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Vice Chair                                                                                     
Representative Jim Colver                                                                                                       
Representative Shelley Hughes                                                                                                   
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
Representative David Talerico                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
OVERVIEW(S):  DEPARTMENT  OF  MILITARY   &  VETERANS'  AFFAIRS  -                                                               
DIVISION OF  HOMELAND SECURITY & EMERGENCY  MANAGEMENT; OFFICE OF                                                               
VETERANS  AFFAIRS;  ARMY  NATIONAL  GUARD;  AIR  NATIONAL  GUARD;                                                               
PRESENTATION  ON  HB  126; ALASKA  STATE  DEFENSE  FORCE;  ALASKA                                                               
MILITARY YOUTH ACADEMY.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BOB DOEHL, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                                  
Office of the Commissioner/Adjutant General                                                                                     
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:   Introduced  overviews and  presentations by                                                           
various  divisions  of the  Department  of  Military &  Veterans'                                                             
Affairs.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MIKE O'HARE, Director                                                                                                           
Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management                                                                            
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided an  overview of  the Division  of                                                             
Homeland Security & Emergency Management.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
FORREST POWELL, Program Coordinator                                                                                             
Office of Veterans Affairs                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Presented  an overview  of  the Office  of                                                             
Veterans Affairs.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL JOE STREFF, Commander                                                                                                   
Alaska Army National Guard                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented  an overview  of the  Alaska Army                                                             
National Guard.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR MICHELLE EDWARDS, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel                                                                     
Alaska Army National Guard                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Assisted in  the overview of the Alaska Army                                                             
National Guard.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL KAREN MANSFIELD, Commander                                                                                              
Alaska Air National Guard                                                                                                       
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided  an overview  of  the Alaska  Air                                                             
National Guard.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL (ALASKA) ROGER HOLL, Commander                                                                                
Alaska State Defense Force                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented an  overview of the  Alaska State                                                             
Defense Force.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  COLONEL   JOHN  JAMES,   Director  of   Training  and                                                               
Operations                                                                                                                      
Alaska State Defense Force                                                                                                      
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered a question during  the overview of                                                             
the Alaska State Defense Force.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
JAMES JONES, Deputy Director                                                                                                    
Alaska Military Youth Academy                                                                                                   
Department of Military & Veterans' Affairs                                                                                      
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided an  overview of the Alaska Military                                                             
Youth Academy.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT MCGILL                                                                                                                   
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified  in support  of arming  National                                                             
Guard recruiters.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:31:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR BOB HERRON  called the House Special  Committee on Military                                                             
and   Veterans'   Affairs  meeting   to   order   at  9:31   a.m.                                                               
Representatives  Tuck,  Lynn,   Gruenberg,  Hughes,  Colver,  and                                                               
Herron were present at the  call to order.  Representative LeDoux                                                               
arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
^OVERVIEW(S) DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                         
     OVERVIEW(S) DEPARTMENT OF MILITARY & VETERANS' AFFAIRS                                                                 
                                                                                                                              
9:32:07 AM                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
an introduction  of the scheduled overviews  and presentations by                                                               
the  deputy  commissioner,  Department of  Military  &  Veterans'                                                               
Affairs.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:32:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB    DOEHL,     Deputy    Commissioner,    Office     of    the                                                               
Commissioner/Adjutant   General,   Department   of   Military   &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs (DMVA),  began an overview of  the DMVA, noting                                                               
there would be  a focus on the army and  air component commanders                                                               
and  division directors  regarding specifics  of their  programs,                                                               
and  answering questions.   The  department  consists of  service                                                               
components, the  Air and Army  National Guards, the  Alaska State                                                               
Defense  Force, the  Division of  Homeland  Security &  Emergency                                                               
Management, the Alaska Military Youth  Academy, and the Office of                                                               
Veterans  Affairs.   Mr.  Doehl  explained  that much  of  DMVA's                                                               
success is  contingent on federal mission  and federal resources;                                                               
for  example,  approximately  $15  million in  general  funds  is                                                               
leveraged to  bring in approximately  $500 million to  the Alaska                                                               
economy from  the federal  government.   The overview  would also                                                               
cover  more effective  engagement  in rural  Alaska,  which is  a                                                               
priority of  DMVA and  the Walker  Administration.   To implement                                                               
programs,  DMVA has  three areas  of  priorities, beginning  with                                                               
Arctic  Strategy.   The Arctic  is  of vital  national and  state                                                               
interest  and  DMVA encourages  -  through  the National  Defense                                                               
Authorization  Act -  requiring  the U.S.  Department of  Defense                                                               
(DoD) to  identify, resource,  and fund  a national  strategy for                                                               
the Arctic  that makes sense  for Alaskans  and the nation.   The                                                               
second priority is engagement with  all Alaska communities, rural                                                               
and  urban.   The  third  priority  is  the growth  of  emergency                                                               
preparedness capacity to  cope with disasters, such  as fires and                                                               
storms,  cost-effectively.    Mr.  Doehl pointed  out  all  three                                                               
priorities  involve more  effective engagement  in rural  Alaska,                                                               
with which all divisions have been tasked.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:36:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  for  a  copy  of  U.S.  Senator                                                               
Sullivan's amendment  to the  National Defense  Authorization Act                                                               
[NDAA] and the status thereof.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL said the amendment to  section 1043 of the NDAA [FY2016                                                               
NDAA passed 10/7/15]  requires DoD to develop  an operations plan                                                               
for the  Arctic, identify forces  to support  the plan -  such as                                                               
land  forces -  and  identity  new funding.    The amendment  was                                                               
introduced at  committee, the  bill was  passed by  Congress, and                                                               
awaits  the President's  signature.   However, he  cautioned that                                                               
the bill at  this point may be vetoed due  to differences between                                                               
the executive  and legislative branches of  government on defense                                                               
funding.   In  further response  to Representative  Gruenberg, he                                                               
said the  amendment was introduced  in the U.S.  Senate Committee                                                               
on Armed Services.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  whether  there  was a  provision                                                               
requiring the  federal government to  work with the DMVA  and the                                                               
Alaska National Guard.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL  explained that  although that language  is not  in the                                                               
amendment, consistent  with the doctrine of  operations plans, he                                                               
expected "that  consultation to  happen ...  functionally because                                                               
of  the  role DMVA  -  the  Department  of Military  &  Veterans'                                                               
Affairs -  plays up here."   In Alaska, DMVA owns  the search and                                                               
rescue forces  of Alaska, and  owns the air  defense surveillance                                                               
missions, thus the federal government  would need to consult with                                                               
DMVA.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HERRON  added  that  the  committee  can  ask  the  deputy                                                               
commissioner  to request  assurance  from  Senator Sullivan  that                                                               
there is a working relationship with the state.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:40:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  moved that [the committee  request from                                                               
Senator  Sullivan an  assurance in  writing that  articulates the                                                               
understanding that  there is a  working relationship  with DMVA].                                                               
There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:40:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  referred  to   DMVA's  vision  and  asked                                                               
whether there  is a state and  a federal mission that  is carried                                                               
out by DMVA.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOEHL  responded  that  the  federal  mission  applies  when                                                               
federal  funds  are  received  to   execute  a  specific  federal                                                               
purpose.   For  example, the  Army National  Guard was  funded to                                                               
organize, train,  and equip for  deployment as a  land component.                                                               
Also, federal  funds are  provided for search  and rescue  and to                                                               
watch  for incursions  into U.S.  airspace, and  the Division  of                                                               
Homeland  Security   &  Emergency  Management   receives  Federal                                                               
Emergency  Management Agency  (FEMA)  grant  monies for  disaster                                                               
mitigation.   The  Office of  Veterans  Affairs receives  federal                                                               
money to provide  transportation.  One of the  missions funded by                                                               
the state is for the Alaska  State Defense Force in order to help                                                               
Alaskans  in need.   In  addition, the  Army National  Guard used                                                               
state funds for  firefighting, and state money  also provides for                                                               
outreach events to veterans, which  are needed because Alaska has                                                               
more veterans per capita than any other state.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  surmised  there is  not  one  overarching                                                               
mission.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL explained it is  difficult for one mission to encompass                                                               
duties  as   diverse  as  the  Alaska   Military  Youth  Academy,                                                               
preparing  troops to  assist in  disaster  response, and  helping                                                               
veterans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:45:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE O'HARE, Director, Division  of Homeland Security & Emergency                                                               
Management, Department of Military  & Veterans' Affairs, said the                                                               
mission of  the division  is to  coordinate critical  services to                                                               
protect  lives  and  property  from   terrorism,  and  all  other                                                               
hazards, natural and manmade.   To do so the division establishes                                                               
a culture of preparedness, enabling  a swift coordinated response                                                               
leading to  a rapid recovery.   He said Alaska has  experienced a                                                               
difficult spring  due to  flooding, and  a difficult  summer with                                                               
many wildfires and  communities evacuated due to  smoke and fire.                                                               
He noted  there were no  fatalities related to fires,  although a                                                               
mudslide in Sitka  took three lives.  This f  all has brought sea                                                               
storms with hurricane-force winds.  Also, this year, the division                                                               
hosted and protected visitors to  the international conference on                                                               
the  Arctic,  and  coordinated with  security  during  [President                                                               
Barack Obama's trip  to Alaska].  Mr. O'Hare  reiterated that the                                                               
division is  the lead disaster-coordinating  agency in  the state                                                               
and partners  with the National  Guard, the Alaska  State Defense                                                               
Force and federal agencies such as  the U.S. Coast Guard and DoD.                                                               
For  example, DoD  provides  individual  readiness training  that                                                               
will be utilized  in Newtok.  Other  partnerships are established                                                               
with  faith-based and  nonprofit  groups, as  well  as state  and                                                               
local  agencies.   Tribal  partners  such  as the  Tanana  Chiefs                                                               
Conference (TCC) also help the  division complete its mission, as                                                               
do private  sector organizations.   He  stated that  the division                                                               
has sixty  employees in  five sections.   The  operations section                                                               
coordinates state resources and  resources from outside Alaska if                                                               
necessary.  The division also  assists communities to prepare for                                                               
spring floods and local  emergencies through outreach educational                                                               
materials  for  individuals  and   families.    He  mentioned  an                                                               
awareness  campaign  called  the  Great  Alaska  Shake-out  which                                                               
teaches victims of  an earthquake to drop, cover, and  hold.  The                                                               
division's  planning section  provides Small  Community Emergency                                                               
Response Plans (SCERP)  to every small community in  Alaska.  The                                                               
planning section also provides  disaster mitigation projects such                                                               
as elevating  houses to  prevent flooding.   Mr.  O'Hare stressed                                                               
that mitigation  projects are a  good investment compared  to the                                                               
costs  incurred  during  a disaster.    The  division's  disaster                                                               
assistance  section directs  victims to  state and  federal grant                                                               
programs  to rebuild  and  recover.   The  fifth  section is  the                                                               
administration and grant support section.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:56:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HERRON suggested  legislators  would  benefit from  having                                                               
individual written disaster plans on hand.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'HARE  offered to provide  copies for members.   In response                                                               
to  Representative  Hughes,  he  confirmed  that  the  earthquake                                                               
exercises  are  provided  primarily   for  school  children,  and                                                               
approximately   one   hundred   thousand  school   children   are                                                               
registered to participate.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES  expressed her belief that  more adults and                                                               
businesses should be  involved.  She then asked  whether FEMA has                                                               
money available for medical and security units.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'HARE  stated that  Alaska Shield  2014 was  successful, and                                                               
the division partnered  with the Department of  Health and Social                                                               
Services (DHSS) to  get catastrophic medical kits;  in fact, DHSS                                                               
has  received  medical equipment  and  supply  stations from  its                                                               
national  counterparts.   In further  response to  Representative                                                               
Hughes,  he  said  equipment  and supplies  are  available  at  a                                                               
moment's notice.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES recalled  that  during  the Sockeye  fire,                                                               
some of the nonprofit agencies  were "blocked" from helping.  She                                                               
suggested the emergency network needs to be improved.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'HARE agreed  that donations must be coordinated  and he has                                                               
hired  a   donations  management  individual  to   focus  on  the                                                               
efficient distribution of donations of every kind.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON requested to see the plan for the future of Newtok.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:01:28 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. O'HARE said  the division's focus is on  rural engagement and                                                               
resilience,  and seeks  to ensure  that emergency  response plans                                                               
are up-to-date  and appropriate for every  rural community, along                                                               
with   providing   more  innovative   mitigation   opportunities.                                                               
Regarding  Newtok and  Mertarvik,  the state  has  applied for  a                                                               
federal  community  development  block (CDBG)  grant  that  could                                                               
bring  approximately  $225  million to  communities  affected  by                                                               
disasters  from 2012-2014,  including Newtok  and Mertarvik.   He                                                               
said  the  grant  will  help  finish  the  Newtok  and  Mertarvik                                                               
project, and more  information on the grant is  available.  Also,                                                               
there will  be a focus on  the Arctic and the  development of its                                                               
critical infrastructure - such as  ports and communications lines                                                               
- which must adapt to climate  change.  In addition, the division                                                               
will  work  to  enhance  emergency   management  plans  for  each                                                               
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:04:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
FORREST POWELL, Program Coordinator,  Office of Veterans Affairs,                                                               
Department  of   Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs,   informed  the                                                               
committee there  are 73,397 recognized  veterans in Alaska.   The                                                               
mission of  the Office  of Veterans Affairs  (OVA) is  to promote                                                               
the  awareness  of  eligible veterans,  active  duty,  guard  and                                                               
reserve  members, and  their families  and survivors,  to receive                                                               
from federal and state government  all benefits to which they are                                                               
entitled.   The vision  of OVA  is to  ensure that  all veterans,                                                               
active  duty, guard,  and reserve  and their  families understand                                                               
that all  benefits have  been earned.   The office's  core values                                                               
are  to  be held  personally  and  professionally accountable  to                                                               
deliver America's promise  to all eligible members,  and to serve                                                               
through  courage, conviction,  and  on behalf  of  the values  of                                                               
integrity,  compassion, commitment,  selflessness, and  teamwork.                                                               
The office's  goal is  to serve  Alaska, one  veteran at  a time.                                                               
Mr. Powell  said the  foregoing drives  OVA's 17  veteran service                                                               
officers and  4 staff members  to serve over 73,000  veterans and                                                               
154,000  dependents,   plus  active  duty  and   guardsmen.    In                                                               
addition,  OVA's  full time  staff  members  are members  of  the                                                               
Alaska Veterans Advisory Council,  participate in state veteran's                                                               
cemetery planning,  manage the Alaska Territorial  Guard program,                                                               
and hold active duty discharges, which  are copies of DD Form 214                                                               
discharge documents that are kept on  file for future needs.  Mr.                                                               
Powell  continued, noting  that  OVA staff  members partner  with                                                               
over  250  tribal  veterans' representatives,  attend  town  hall                                                               
meetings,  attend indigent  veterans' funerals,  provide memorial                                                               
grant funds, partner with veteran  service officers, manage rural                                                               
transportation   grants,   partner   with  the   U.S.   Veteran's                                                               
Administration  (VA)  Homeless   Veteran  Outreach  program,  and                                                               
partner  with other  agencies  to  prevent homelessness,  thereby                                                               
providing  services to  veterans  and  their families  throughout                                                               
Alaska.   Additionally,  OVA  and  its staff  of  21 ensured  the                                                               
return of  $56 million to  eligible veterans and  family members.                                                               
This is an  ongoing annual amount that increases  each year based                                                               
on the increase  in the number of veterans in  the state who have                                                               
been assessed with  a 10 percent disability.  An  example of a 10                                                               
percent disability  is tinnitus,  which results  in a  payment of                                                               
$133.17.    The  office  assists 57,989  veterans,  active  duty,                                                               
reserve component members and their  families with the processing                                                               
of federal and state benefits claims.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:10:49 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES asked  how many of the  73,000 veterans are                                                               
"connecting with the services you  provide, how many are untapped                                                               
and probably aren't receiving [possible benefits]...?"                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. POWELL said 34,000 of the  73,000 veterans need to be reached                                                               
and  brought   into  the   system.     In  further   response  to                                                               
Representative Hughes, he said the  reasons why many veterans are                                                               
not  receiving  benefits  could  be  a lack  of  knowledge  or  a                                                               
language barrier.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  surmised  a similar  percentage  from  an                                                               
additional  34,000 veterans  receiving benefits  could result  in                                                               
$20 million to $30 million influx to Alaska's economy.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:13:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. POWELL returned  to the overview, noting that  this year $244                                                               
million  was paid  for disability  compensation  and pensions  to                                                               
veterans and their  families in Alaska; therefore,  if all 73,000                                                               
veterans were  recognized in the  VA Healthcare System,  it would                                                               
reduce strain on the medical community.   From its budget of $2.8                                                               
million, OVA  transfers $1,015,700 to the  Veterans' Organization                                                               
Grant  program, which  recognizes  five  service organizations  -                                                               
American Legion,  Disabled American  Veterans, Military  Order of                                                               
the Purple Heart, Veterans of  Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans                                                               
of  America.   The  grant  pays  for  the seventeen  OVA  service                                                               
officers, who are trained and  accredited locally and nationally.                                                               
As  a term  of  the  funding, service  officers  are required  to                                                               
travel  to  a minimum  of  two  highly  rural areas  each  month.                                                               
Additional  funding  during  the   recent  fire  emergencies  was                                                               
obtained  by  the  Division  of  Homeland  Security  &  Emergency                                                               
Management.   Mr.  Powell stated  that  service organizations  in                                                               
Washington  and  Virginia  are   following  Alaska's  example  of                                                               
replacing  service officers  that are  assigned by  the state  or                                                               
county,  with  those  assigned  to  service  organizations.    He                                                               
returned  to the  topic  of the  VA  Highly Rural  Transportation                                                               
Grant program  (HRTG) and advised that  Alaska received $250,000,                                                               
which  was the  amount  of the  highest award  issued  of the  26                                                               
states  eligible  for the  program.    With these  funds  between                                                               
January and September,  2015, OVA reached over  5,901 veterans in                                                               
highly  rural transportation  systems.   Recipients were:  Alaska                                                               
Marine Highway System  - Kodiak Island; Interior  Alaska Bus Line                                                               
- Denali; Inter-Island Ferry System  - Prince of Wales and Hyder;                                                               
Valley Movers  - Matanuska-Susitna Valley;  and AAA Alaska  Cab -                                                               
Kenai  Peninsula.    Ground  transportation   for  three  of  the                                                               
recipients totaled  over 220,000 miles.   Nautical miles  for the                                                               
ferries totaled  over 67,000 nautical  miles.  Another  grant has                                                               
been requested  for this  coming year  in the  same amount.   Mr.                                                               
Powell turned  to the  subject of safety,  noting that  the Stand                                                               
Down  Program provides  direct assistance  to veterans  regarding                                                               
homelessness,   medical   and   dental   screenings,   employment                                                               
assistance  and other  factors.   These  funds  were provided  to                                                               
Unalaska, Homer, Soldotna, Kotzebue, and  Nome.  At annual events                                                               
in  Fairbanks  and  Anchorage, 2,500  veterans  were  reached  in                                                               
connection  with  local providers.  There  are  over 250  trained                                                               
tribal veterans' representatives,  who are key to  the success of                                                               
reaching veterans  in villages; in  fact, Alaska has  the largest                                                               
veterans' volunteer  corps in the  nation.  Since  2011, veterans                                                               
and  their  families have  been  supported  in their  communities                                                               
across Alaska.  The transportation  grants reach those who "would                                                               
never   venture  out   of  their   homes  for   our  assistance."                                                               
Agreements  with   DoD  to  provide  assistance   to  the  Alaska                                                               
Territorial  Guard  continue,  and   although  efforts  to  find,                                                               
research, and  issue discharges are  difficult, the  goal remains                                                               
to provide discharge documents for  each Alaska Territorial Guard                                                               
veteran who was  not provided documents in 1947.   In response to                                                               
Representative LeDoux,  Mr. Powell  said that  Alaska Territorial                                                               
Guard  veterans  are eligible  for  the  same benefits  as  other                                                               
veterans, thus the importance of having discharge papers.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX pointed out that  many Hmong people live in                                                               
Alaska  and expressed  her understanding  that  Hmong people  who                                                               
served the U.S.  during the Vietnam War do  not receive veterans'                                                               
benefits.  She asked what can be done.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:23:34 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOEHL said  that is  correct.   United  States Senator  Lisa                                                               
Murkowski introduced  a provision  that would have  allowed Hmong                                                               
who  served  U.S.  forces  in  Southeast Asia  to  be  buried  in                                                               
veteran's cemeteries, but the measure  did not pass, and there is                                                               
no  new  related legislation  pending.    He suggested  that  the                                                               
committee  contact  the  Alaska congressional  delegation  if  it                                                               
wishes to support  recognition for the Hmong forces.   In further                                                               
response  to Representative  LeDoux,  he was  unsure  of what  is                                                               
preventing recognition  of the  Hmong forces, but  it could  be a                                                               
variety  of concerns  including  money, and  the  fact the  Hmong                                                               
forces did not swear an oath of allegiance to the U.S.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN suggested a  resolution from the committee to                                                               
the  Alaska  congressional  delegation and  others,  stating  its                                                               
support of those who fought side-by-side, would be helpful.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL  expressed his  agreement with  a statement  of support                                                               
for  those serving  in past  and present  conflicts, such  as the                                                               
translators in Afghanistan who may seek immigration to the U.S.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX has heard  from Hmong constituents that the                                                               
military does not  permit representatives to appear  at Hmong Day                                                               
recognition ceremonies.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.   DOEHL  assured   Representative   LeDoux   that  he   would                                                               
investigate and  respond; however, the Alaska  National Guard has                                                               
sent  representatives to  every  event to  which  they have  been                                                               
invited.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:28:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POWELL  directed  attention  to the  Alaska  Frontier  Honor                                                               
Flights that are  opportunities for WWII and  Korean War veterans                                                               
to  visit war  monuments  in  Washington, D.C.    Two years  ago,                                                               
nonprofit  organizations  and  corporations  were  encouraged  to                                                               
support  this program.   Alaska  Territorial  Guard members  also                                                               
have this opportunity.  The  OVA attends every welcome home event                                                               
at  the  Ted  Stevens  Anchorage International  Airport,  and  he                                                               
invited committee  members to attend  the arrival of  veterans on                                                               
10/17/15.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES  requested a copy of  the veterans' service                                                               
booklet for each legislator's office.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER asked  for the  location of  the seventeen                                                               
service officers.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. POWELL said eight service  officers are located in Anchorage,                                                               
one is  in Ketchikan, one  is in  Kenai, three are  in Fairbanks,                                                               
and  two  are  in  the  Matanuska-Susitna  valley.    In  further                                                               
response to Representative Colver,  he confirmed that two service                                                               
officers were added two years ago.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HUGHES   cautioned   about  the   state   budget                                                               
challenges ahead, and encouraged  OVA to more assertively connect                                                               
with the 34,000 veterans who have not been reached.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:32:15 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL  JOE  STREFF,  Commander,  Alaska  Army  National  Guard,                                                               
Department  of   Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs,   informed  the                                                               
committee  the vision  of the  Alaska Army  National Guard  (Army                                                               
Guard)  is to  be a  diverse, trusted,  and capable  organization                                                               
ready  to  conduct  unified  land   operations  for  the  federal                                                               
government  and the  state.   Its  mission is  to maintain  ready                                                               
units  and soldiers  that are  able to  support the  governor and                                                               
Alaskans  for domestic  operations,  while also  ready to  deploy                                                               
worldwide  in support  of the  national military  strategy.   The                                                               
Army  Guard focuses  on  four  lines of  effort:    1) provide  a                                                               
relevant, ready, and available  force; 2) improve professionalism                                                               
so that soldiers are experts  in occupational skills, values, and                                                               
leadership;  3)  emerge  as  experts in  the  subject  of  Arctic                                                               
domain;  4) partner  and align  with  other agencies.   From  the                                                               
federal perspective,  this includes  headquarters in  Alaska, and                                                               
within Alaska,  work with  the [Division  of Homeland  Security &                                                               
Emergency  Management,  DMVA,  and   the  Division  of  Forestry,                                                               
Department  of  Natural  Resources], local  emergency  management                                                               
agencies,  and local  responders.   The force  structure includes                                                               
two brigades: the 297th Battlefield  Surveillance Brigade and the                                                               
38th Troop Command, and a  joint forces headquarters, for a total                                                               
of  1,850 solders.    Within  the brigade  there  is an  aviation                                                               
battalion  with 20  Blackhawk helicopters,  a reconnaissance  and                                                               
surveillance  battalion,  and  a  military  police  headquarters.                                                               
Smaller units  consist of engineers, signal,  transportation, and                                                               
maintenance.     Colonel  Streff  advised  that   there  will  be                                                               
significant   conversions   this   year,   changing   the   297th                                                               
Battlefield  Surveillance Brigade  to a  regional support  group,                                                               
and the  reconnaissance and  surveillance battalion  to infantry.                                                               
Colonel Streff stressed that while  assigned in Alaska, guardsmen                                                               
are in  title 32 status of  the U.S. Code, thus  the Army Guard's                                                               
chain of command includes the  adjutant general and the governor.                                                               
When deployed, guardsmen transition to  title 10 status, and fall                                                               
under the command  of active duty authorities  and the president.                                                               
Further, as a National Guard, the  force is funded by DoD and the                                                               
National Guard  Bureau; however,  no federal funding  is received                                                               
to conduct the  Army Guard's state mission.  Key federal missions                                                               
include:  wartime  readiness to mobilize, deploy,  and operate in                                                               
a theatre of war, and the  ground missile defense mission at Fort                                                               
Greely,  operating as  the nation's  defenders against  ballistic                                                               
missile attack.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:36:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR  MICHELLE EDWARDS,  Deputy  Chief of  Staff for  Personnel,                                                               
Alaska Army  National Guard, Department  of Military  & Veterans'                                                               
Affairs,  said  the  Army  Guard  state  mission  is  to  provide                                                               
emergency  response  at  the request  of  civil  authorities  for                                                               
emergencies such  as flood relief,  search and  rescue, emergency                                                               
housing,  snow  removal,  and   earthquakes.  Also,  it  conducts                                                               
firefighting,  and mans  a civil  support team  to assist  in the                                                               
case  of  a  chemical,   biological,  radiological,  nuclear,  or                                                               
explosive  event, and  provides  nonemergency  local and  federal                                                               
support.     For  example,  during  the   [Conference  on  Global                                                               
Leadership in the Arctic:   Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement &                                                               
Resilience (GLACIER)  held 8/30-31/15],  the Army  Guard provided                                                               
military police  support to the  Anchorage Police  Department and                                                               
the Alaska  State Troopers, aviation  support to the  U.S. Secret                                                               
Service, and  refueling support to Marine  One.   The  Army Guard                                                               
also assists  communities with military capabilities  through the                                                               
Innovative Readiness  Program, and delivers medical  care, builds                                                               
infrastructure,  and  supplies  veterinary  care  throughout  the                                                               
state.  Major Edwards further  described the Innovative Readiness                                                               
Program   and  pointed   out   Alaska   provides  a   challenging                                                               
environment and  unique training opportunities.   Another mission                                                               
is the  state partnership  program in  which Alaska  is partnered                                                               
with  Mongolia,  and  their  forces  are  linked  in  a  mutually                                                               
beneficial  relationship.   This program  is administered  by the                                                               
National Guard  Bureau and executed  by the adjutant  general and                                                               
DoD.  Major  Edwards relayed  that  the  National Guard  conducts                                                               
military  to military  engagements, leverages  relationships, and                                                               
endeavors  to   facilitate  broader  interagency   and  corollary                                                               
engagement spanning military,  government, economic, educational,                                                               
and  social spheres.  One challenge  to  the Army  Guard is  that                                                               
standards  for recruits  have gone  up;  in fact,  on a  national                                                               
basis, 70 percent  of the recruit population aged  18-25 years do                                                               
not  qualify to  join the  military, thus  Army Guard  is working                                                               
with the Alaska State Defense  Force to provide opportunities for                                                               
Alaskans to  serve.  Another  challenge is that the  reduction in                                                               
state funds  has reduced the  number of  armories from 80  to 18.                                                               
Major Edwards  concluded that the  Army National Guard  is filled                                                               
with  highly trained  and motivated  soldiers who  volunteered to                                                               
defend the  U.S. Constitution and  the State of Alaska.   Members                                                               
of the  Army Guard are united  in their resolve to  be a diverse,                                                               
trusted,  and  capable  organization   ready  to  accomplish  its                                                               
missions.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:40:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON requested a tour of Fort Greely.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL STREFF agreed to arrange a  tour.  In further response to                                                               
Chair  Herron, he  said during  the [8/15  presidential visit  to                                                               
Alaska] security was "probably as intense as it gets."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON then  asked whether barrier crimes  made by youthful                                                               
recruits contribute  to the difficulties of  recruits meeting the                                                               
higher standards.   He  observed that the  state and  the federal                                                               
government wish  to release many prisoners  with relatively minor                                                               
crimes,  questioning whether  those  who  make "silly  mistakes,"                                                               
when  underage, should  be prevented  from  maturing and  getting                                                               
into the military.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR  EDWARDS advised  that some  offenses, except  for domestic                                                               
violence, can be waived.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER  asked how the legislature  can support the                                                               
needs of the  guard personnel at Fort Greely;  for example, early                                                               
on  personnel did  not have  protection  in the  gun turret,  and                                                               
there are many  interlinking commands at that  facility which may                                                               
create difficulties.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:44:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL STREEF  recalled the mission  began in 2004, and  said he                                                               
would direct that question to  the commanders of the 49th Missile                                                               
Battalion and the 100th Missile Brigade in Colorado.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX restated her  understanding that 25 percent                                                               
of Alaskan youth are not eligible to be in the National Guard.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR  EDWARDS clarified  that nationally,  30  percent of  those                                                               
aged 18-25 years are not qualified.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  inquired as  to  what  standards are  not                                                               
being met.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR EDWARDS responded that Alaska  Army National Guard recruits                                                               
must meet  regular Army education  standards, such as  taking the                                                               
Armed Forces  Vocational Aptitude Battery (AFVAB)  test and legal                                                               
requirements.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  for more  information  on  testing                                                               
scores and other qualifications.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MAJOR EDWARDS  explained that  for each job  in the  Army certain                                                               
scores are required; she offered  to provide specific information                                                               
on the basic and the  in-depth requirements for specific jobs and                                                               
for  promotion  to  a  higher  rank.    In  further  response  to                                                               
Representative  LeDoux, she  said a  general equivalency  diploma                                                               
(GED) qualifies.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:47:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOEHL stated  that the  administration realizes  the federal                                                               
standards are not  the best for Alaska, and  Governor Bill Walker                                                               
has  written to  President  Barack  Obama with  military-specific                                                               
ideas   to   increase   the  opportunities   and   allow   better                                                               
participation across  Alaska in the National  Guard; in addition,                                                               
Commissioner/Adjutant  General Hummel  will meet  with Lieutenant                                                               
General  Kadavy, Director,  Army National  Guard, National  Guard                                                               
Bureau,  in  this  regard.     He  said,  "So,  we've  taken  the                                                               
initiative on  that ... we're  doing what makes sense  for Alaska                                                               
and America."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:48:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  cautioned that  standards cannot  be lowered                                                               
as it is very significant to  be a member of the regular military                                                               
or one of the  guard units.  Standards cannot be  let down as the                                                               
responsibility is too high.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:49:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL KAREN  MANSFIELD, Commander,  Alaska Air  National Guard,                                                               
Department  of   Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs,   informed  the                                                               
committee the  term "federal" refers  to the time  that guardsmen                                                               
are executing  in title 10  status, and "nonfederal" is  the time                                                               
that guardsmen are executing in title  32 status.  The vision for                                                               
the Alaska Air  National Guard (Air Guard) is to  be a community-                                                               
based  force  exceeding  the  standards   of  the  most  diverse,                                                               
relevant, and resilient  units in the nation.  The  Air Guard has                                                               
four  key  efforts:    to preserve  capability  and  capacity  by                                                               
optimizing total  force initiative; to ensure  resourcing to meet                                                               
operational  needs; to  champion force  development opportunities                                                               
to shape  its leaders; and  to expand its dual-use  capability in                                                               
support  of state,  community, and  partners.   Colonel Mansfield                                                               
further  explained that  a wing  is  the standard  organizational                                                               
structure  of  the air  component  of  active duty  and  reserve.                                                               
Within  a   wing  there  are   standard  groups,  one   each  for                                                               
operations, maintenance,  medical, and  support.  Within  each of                                                               
the  two  wings there  are  squadrons  for communications,  civil                                                               
engineering, logistics readiness,  security forces, and personnel                                                               
support, all  of which have  special capabilities.   Although the                                                               
wings  support  the  federal   mission,  while  training,  Alaska                                                               
guardsmen fall under the command  of the adjutant general and the                                                               
governor.  Colonel  Mansfield clarified that some  members of the                                                               
Air Guard  are engaged  in federal  missions full-time;  in fact,                                                               
approximately 40 percent of Alaska's  2,400 person force is full-                                                               
time,  and thus  the  state is  more  operationally engaged  than                                                               
guard units of other states.   There are two Air Guard wings, the                                                               
168th  is an  air  refueling  wing with  820  members located  on                                                               
Eielson Air Force Base.  The  168th has eight tankers and sixteen                                                               
crews,  operational, maintenance,  mission support,  and medical.                                                               
This wing  will be  renamed due  to the  transition of  the 213th                                                               
Space Warning  Squadron at Clear  Air Station.   Alaska guardsmen                                                               
now comprise the operations crew  at Clear Air Station, providing                                                               
surveillance in  federal status, and a  tanker mission, operating                                                               
every day.   She stressed that Alaska has the  busiest air tanker                                                               
unit in the Air  National Guard.  There is also  a new mission in                                                               
civil engineering  which is adding  skilled personnel,  and which                                                               
is vital to  the key effort of expanding  dual-use capability for                                                               
rural emergency responses in the  state.  In Anchorage, the 176th                                                               
Wing is located on Joint  Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) with a                                                               
manned strength  of fifteen hundred and  five operational mission                                                               
sets.    The 144th  Airlift  Squadron  has eight  C-130  Hercules                                                               
aircraft  and  sixteen crews,  and  will  be deployed  next  year                                                               
overseas.  Within  that wing there is the  249th Airlift Squadron                                                               
which serves  to continue towards  total force initiatives.   She                                                               
noted  that   the  Air  Guard  provides   crews  and  maintenance                                                               
components  to fly  and fix  aircraft  that are  owned by  active                                                               
duty.    The  C-17  Globemaster is  a  large  military  transport                                                               
aircraft  that   provides  strategic  lift  capability   to  DoD.                                                               
Remaining units  in the wing  are the 210th Rescue  Squadron, the                                                               
212th Rescue Squadron,  and the 211th Rescue  Squadron, which are                                                               
refueling aircraft.   The foregoing  provide the  only long-range                                                               
airborne  search  and  rescue  capability   for  Alaska  and  its                                                               
surrounding  waters,  and also  provide  refueling  for the  U.S.                                                               
Coast Guard.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:57:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL  MANSFIELD continued  to  describe the  duties of  rescue                                                               
operations when  requested by civil  authorities.  There  are Air                                                               
Guard  members  manning  a   rescue  coordination  center  (RCC),                                                               
located on  JBER, which is  also a 24 hours  per day, 7  days per                                                               
week, (24/7) mission.  The  rescue center coordinates all federal                                                               
and civil calls for the  state, and works with civil authorities,                                                               
the Coast  Guard, and  the Alaska State  Troopers to  determine a                                                               
response.    Colonel  Mansfield noted  RCC  requested  Air  Guard                                                               
support 40  times and recorded 49  saves last year.   Since 1994,                                                               
there have  been over 5,000  missions with 2,223 saves.   Lastly,                                                               
the Air Defense  Squadron located on JBER is  an airspace warning                                                               
and  surveillance  squadron.   In  the  event  of an  unknown  or                                                               
hostile aircraft approaching U.S.  airspace, the Alaska Air Guard                                                               
detects the track, directs the  launch of a fighter, controls the                                                               
intercept,  refuels  the  fighter,  and  rescues  the  airmen  if                                                               
necessary.   Federal  missions supply  well-trained personnel  to                                                               
meet  state  needs  including medical  care,  and  she  described                                                               
several  missions  involving  transportation and  provisions  for                                                               
rural  areas.     Colonel  Mansfield  directed   the  committee's                                                               
attention  to additional  information  that was  provided in  the                                                               
committee packet.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:59:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON  stated that  Alaskans are proud  of their  Army and                                                               
Air  Guard,  and   asked  why  wings  in  Alaska   have  so  many                                                               
responsibilities.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL MANSFIELD  explained that  the operational orders  of the                                                               
Pacific Air  Forces (PACAF) require  the responsibility to  be in                                                               
Alaska due to  its strategic location.   Strategic lift, tactical                                                               
lift, and  rescue must be  in Alaska for  the Pacific arena.   In                                                               
further response  to Chair Herron,  she said threats  from Russia                                                               
have increased  on a  gradual and continual  basis over  the past                                                               
five to six years.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES  asked whether the  Air Guard plans  to use                                                               
unmanned aircraft systems for search and rescue purposes.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL MANSFIELD  responded that is  not on the horizon  for the                                                               
Air Guard; however, she will forward  an inquiry to the Air Force                                                               
and report back.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  stated there  is a tremendous  amount of                                                               
activity  at  Eielson Air  Force  Base  (AFB) with  the  expected                                                               
arrival  of  F-35 aircraft.    He  asked whether  the  additional                                                               
aircraft would expand the Air Guard's mission at Eielson AFB.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COLONEL  MANSFIELD  advised that  generically,  as  with any  new                                                               
mission,  active duty  seeks to  build associations,  but whether                                                               
there would  be an association with  the Air Guard in  Alaska has                                                               
not been determined.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  encouraged the  committee to  tour Clear                                                               
Air Base, which he described as "absolutely phenomenal."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON  requested a tour of  Clear Air Base for  members of                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:04:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL turned  attention to enabling legislation  [HB 126 Code                                                               
of Military Justice; Appeals, introduced  in the First Session of                                                               
the Twenty-Ninth  Alaska State Legislature and  currently held in                                                               
the House Judiciary  Standing Committee].  Mr.  Doehl provided an                                                               
update on  behalf of  Captain Forrest  Dunbar, recalling  that HB                                                               
126  passed from  the  House Special  Committee  on Military  and                                                               
Veterans'  Affairs  to  the House  Judiciary  Standing  Committee                                                               
(HJUD) in April of 2015.   The following four significant changes                                                               
are expected:  1) the  punitive article, which identifies what is                                                               
a  sanctioned offense,  would now  be  in statute  instead of  in                                                               
regulations  in  order  to provide  better  checks  and  balances                                                               
between the legislative and executive  branches of government; 2)                                                               
junior  officers   and  junior   enlisted  soldiers   demand  the                                                               
prosecution of some  offenses such as sexual  assault and driving                                                               
under the  influence (DUI) even when  civilian prosecutors choose                                                               
not  to do  so; 3)  the scope  of coverage  would be  expanded to                                                               
24/7; fix maximum punishments.   He provided the committee with a                                                               
written  summary  of  the  changes, noting  that  DMVA  has  been                                                               
actively  testing the  legal aspects  of the  proposed provisions                                                               
with positive results.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON,  speaking from  personal experience,  expressed his                                                               
appreciation  of the  change to  expand military  jurisdiction to                                                               
24/7.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:08:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX recognized  Captain Dunbar's  work on  the                                                               
proposed legislation.   Speaking as  chair of HJUD, she  said she                                                               
anticipates hearing  the bill during  [the Third  Special Session                                                               
of   the  First   Session  of   the  Twenty-Ninth   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature],  although  the bill  could  not  be passed  out  of                                                               
committee.   Further, she  opined the  purpose of  HB 126  was to                                                               
give the leadership  of the National Guard  tools; however, tools                                                               
are  only   as  effective  as   the  leadership  of   the  guard.                                                               
Representative LeDoux cautioned that  although there is excellent                                                               
leadership  now, leadership  can fail,  and rules  need to  be in                                                               
place "when things go wrong."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL assured  the committee that there is  a commitment from                                                               
the  leadership of  DMVA and  Governor Walker  to "full,  engaged                                                               
leadership  addressing those  things  and making  the hard  calls                                                               
...."                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:11:25 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
BRIGADIER GENERAL  (ALASKA) ROGER  HOLL, Commander,  Alaska State                                                               
Defense  Force,  Department  of  Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs,                                                               
informed  the  committee  he  was   speaking  on  behalf  of  the                                                               
volunteer men  and women  who serve in  the Alaska  State Defense                                                               
Force  (ASDF).   The  vision of  ASDF is  an  Arctic strategy  to                                                               
expand throughout Alaska,  and to expand its  engagement as well.                                                               
General Holl  defined ASDF by its  mission to train and  equip an                                                               
adequately organized  military reserve  - at  the command  of the                                                               
governor -  in order to  augment the National Guard  during state                                                               
emergencies.   Therefore, ASDF training  for missions  is aligned                                                               
with the  missions of  the National Guard.   The  legal authority                                                               
that  creates  a   state  defense  force  comes   from  the  U.S.                                                               
Constitution  and  in U.S.  law,  32  U.S.C.  109, and  they  are                                                               
regulated by  National Guard Bureau  regulation 10-4.   Also, the                                                               
Alaska  State Constitution  provides for  a state  defense force,                                                               
and it  is further  identified by  state military  code.   With a                                                               
force of  86 volunteer soldiers, ASDF  is about the same  size of                                                               
the  defense  forces  of  Oregon,  Washington,  and  New  Mexico.                                                               
Volunteers  are located  in  Fairbanks,  Wasilla, Kenai,  Valdez,                                                               
Juneau,  and at  Joint  Base  Elmendorf-Richardson in  Anchorage.                                                               
General Holl  said he was  proud of ASDF volunteers  because they                                                               
care  about  Alaska  and  donate   time  for  training,  military                                                               
education,  community  events,   week-end  drills,  and  military                                                               
exercises;  in   fact,  volunteers   are  required   to  complete                                                               
training, attend  monthly meetings and week-end  drills, and they                                                               
are subject  to military discipline.   Volunteers can be  also be                                                               
ordered into active  duty, however, they are paid  when in active                                                               
status.  The force is  prohibited from receiving federal funding,                                                               
and is a state entity.   Recent changes to ASDF include increased                                                               
training standards as a result  of its close association with the                                                               
joint  operations  center  at  JBER, thus  ASDF  is  included  in                                                               
training, response, and the goals of DVMA.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:16:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL HOLL  stressed that  ASDF now  has a  focus on  radio and                                                               
satellite communications  skills, and he  gave an example  of its                                                               
liaison work for the state  during Operation Deep Dig in Cordova.                                                               
Also,  ASDF  volunteers are  trained  in  the following:    joint                                                               
operations  center  courses;  anti-terrorism;  officer  candidate                                                               
school;  noncommissioned   officer  academy;   incident  command;                                                               
emergency  management.   Training  has been  integrated with  the                                                               
National Guard  in exercises such  as Alaska Shield; in  fact, 18                                                               
ASDF members  were on state  active duty during the  summer fires                                                               
in  Alaska.    The  trend in  ASDF  is  towards  professionalism,                                                               
creating standards,  and creating a force  capable of effectively                                                               
augmenting  the National  Guard in  support of  civil authorities                                                               
for missions in  Alaska.  He pointed out that  after disasters, a                                                               
state  infrastructure  inspection   is  needed,  therefore,  ASDF                                                               
created  an  engineering  detachment consisting  of  professional                                                               
engineers.   In October of  2015, the State Guard  Association of                                                               
the U.S. (SGAUS)  is sponsoring an engineering  academy.  General                                                               
Holl  noted  that  he  is   president  of  SGAUS,  and  that  the                                                               
association is creating tools to  increase professionalism in all                                                               
state  defense forces  in the  areas of  chaplaincy, engineering,                                                               
medical resources,  and law.   Returning  to state  functions, he                                                               
said  ASDF provides  shelter support  for  victims of  disasters,                                                               
responders,  and for  military  exercises, and  is proficient  in                                                               
field operations.   The state-owned  Alaska medical station  is a                                                               
portable hospital and, in 2014,  ASDF provided doctors and nurses                                                               
to  the   medical  station,  completed  an   inventory,  provided                                                               
communications, traffic  control, and chaplaincy.   As do typical                                                               
military   organizations,  ASDF   has  personnel,   intelligence,                                                               
training,  operations, logistics,  communications, chaplaincy,  a                                                               
medical  detachment,  engineering,   and  an  inspector  general.                                                               
Community engagement  includes support  for the  Wounded Warriors                                                               
Program, Special  Olympics, Operation  Stand Down,  a scholarship                                                               
program, and  a color guard,  all at no cost  to the state.   The                                                               
Alaska  State Defense  Force  has been  recognized  by earning  a                                                               
meritorious  unit  award,   a  soldier  of  the   year  award,  a                                                               
noncommissioned officer of the year  award, requests for guidance                                                               
from other  defense forces, commendation  medals, and  bylines in                                                               
publications.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:26:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL HOLL  turned to  ASDF's future.   In January,  2016, ASDF                                                               
will support  the National Guard  Military Police Company.   As a                                                               
result of the forced reductions  at the National Guard, ASDF will                                                               
form  the  49th military  police  detachment  with qualified  law                                                               
enforcement  officers to  replace positions  cut by  the National                                                               
Guard.   Furthermore, ASDF is  planning to expand and  create new                                                               
detachments  in  every  region   of  rural  Alaska  because  ASDF                                                               
provides an economical  approach for service to  rural areas; for                                                               
example,  ASDF trains  in existing  armories or  local operations                                                               
centers  at  no  additional  cost.   General  Holl  opined  rural                                                               
communities will take pride in  ASDF because it has the following                                                               
in common with the Alaska Territorial  Guard:  founded in 1984 by                                                               
a  WW11 veteran  who was  also an  Alaska Native;  uses the  same                                                               
logo; comprised of local volunteers;  served Alaska for 31 years;                                                               
focused  on rural  engagement; provides  opportunities for  young                                                               
people to serve the state  and develop leadership skills that can                                                               
be utilized in the workplace.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:32:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  expressed  her  belief  that  ASDF  is  a                                                               
resource  that should  be strengthened.   With  budget challenges                                                               
approaching, ASDF consists of  highly professional volunteers who                                                               
invest  in their  equipment  and are  not  compensated for  their                                                               
time, and thus  are a wonderful resource.  She  observed that the                                                               
force   has  decreased   in  size   and  inquired   about  future                                                               
recruiting.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL  HOLL informed  the committee  that state  defense forces                                                               
were established  on the cadre  concept and after  [the terrorist                                                               
attacks of September 11, 2001], ASDF  grew in size.  Although the                                                               
roster  was larger  at  that  time, the  roster  now consists  of                                                               
members  who meet  military standards  and are  highly qualified.                                                               
Currently,  he  is  seeking  to expand  ASDF  by  developing  new                                                               
mission skills  such as medical, engineering,  and communications                                                               
services  which  will be  more  helpful  to  the state  and  will                                                               
attract  new members.    Rural engagement  and  the new  military                                                               
police  detachment  will  also contribute  to  the  expansion  of                                                               
ASDF's geographic size and roster.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES asked for specific goals.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL HOLL  said the next five  years will see an  expansion in                                                               
Bethel  which will  require resources  to pay  for communications                                                               
equipment,  uniforms,   and  training.    He   advised  that  the                                                               
expansion would start with a  small signals detachment of four or                                                               
five volunteers.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:40:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL stressed how valuable  highly trained personnel will be                                                               
to  DMVA  and  ASDF  during  a period  of  rural  engagement  and                                                               
expansion.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  asked  for  comments  on  ASDF's  current                                                               
budget,  and information  regarding whether  ASDF volunteers  are                                                               
armed.  She expressed support for arming the defense force.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL HOLL  responded that this  year the budget  was increased                                                               
to $50,000.   Many ASDF expenses  are reduced because it  has the                                                               
use of existing  National Guard facilities -  where utilities are                                                               
paid - and during disasters  other funding is available, thus the                                                               
additional funding will enable new regions to be developed.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked for the total population of ASDF.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL HOLL said  there are 86 officers  and enlisted personnel,                                                               
based on a cadre unit structure.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  for  more  information  on  the                                                               
military police detachment.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL HOLL explained  the detachment will be  a new detachment,                                                               
located at the  Alcantra National Guard Armory in  Wasilla.  This                                                               
is  the   location  of  the  National   Guard's  military  police                                                               
battalion, which will  be reduced in size to a  company, and ASDF                                                               
will augment  the company.   Force members  that will be  part of                                                               
the  military police  detachment assigned  to the  National Guard                                                               
Military Police Company will be  those who meet the Alaska Police                                                               
Standards  Council requirements,  one of  which is  to attend  an                                                               
academy.    He recalled  that  after  [the terrorist  attacks  of                                                               
September 11, 2001], all ASDF  members were armed as constables -                                                               
at a lesser standard - and  under military command, which posed a                                                               
liability.   In further response to  Representative Gruenberg, he                                                               
said there will be four to five members in the detachment.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:47:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  COLONEL   JOHN  JAMES,   Director  of   Training  and                                                               
Operations, Alaska State Defense  Force, Department of Military &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs, in response  to Representative Gruenberg, said                                                               
he was  developing a  plan to establish  the new  detachment with                                                               
three personnel  to provide  leadership, and  in the  near future                                                               
adding  about  nine  for  a   squad.    In  further  response  to                                                               
Representative Gruenberg,  he pointed out  that ASDF is  not part                                                               
of  the federal  force and  there are  differences in  employment                                                               
status;  however,  if  existing  National Guard  members  of  the                                                               
military police battalion left the  National Guard, they would be                                                               
an excellent resource for the new detachment if they so choose.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DOEHL  offered  that  the  National  Guard  military  police                                                               
personnel  will  have  other positions  available.    In  further                                                               
response to  Representative Gruenberg,  he opined that  there are                                                               
appropriate provisions for them to explore.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  questioned  whether the  military  police                                                               
would be the only ASDF members who are armed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
GENERAL HOLL  said only  the military police  will be  armed now.                                                               
He  explained  that ASDF  reviews  the  needs  of the  state  and                                                               
changes  in response  to situations,  such  as the  threat of  an                                                               
imminent invasion.   At this time, ASDF is  responding to natural                                                               
disasters.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES  understood   that  training  occurs  with                                                               
weapons thus  members are  ready if  there is a  need.   She said                                                               
Alaska should consider  arming its defense force at  all times as                                                               
other states have.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:50:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JAMES  JONES, Deputy  Director,  Alaska  Military Youth  Academy,                                                               
Department  of   Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs,   informed  the                                                               
committee  the Alaska  Military  Youth  Academy (AMYA)  Challenge                                                               
Program was  established after a Rockefeller  Foundation study in                                                               
1989 revealed that the drop-out  population was a domestic threat                                                               
to  the U.S.   In  fact, as  of 2013,  approximately one  million                                                               
young men  and women  do not  complete high  school, which  is 20                                                               
percent  of those  who begin  high school.   In  response to  the                                                               
study, AMYA began  operations 1/30/94 for the  purpose of helping                                                               
Alaska address  its drop-out population.   Mr. Jones  said AMYA's                                                               
mission  statement  is:    The  primary  purpose  of  the  Alaska                                                               
Military Youth Academy  is to help intervene in the  lives of at-                                                               
risk youth and provide graduates  with values, skills, education,                                                               
and  self-discipline to  succeed as  adults.   The academy  deals                                                               
with  a population  of approximately  4,000 drop-outs  in Alaska.                                                               
The  program's  vision  is  to   be  recognized  as  the  premier                                                               
educational institution within the  state to attract, retain, and                                                               
serve  youth  who  are  at-risk  at  not  receiving  a  secondary                                                               
education.   Mr. Jones said  it is known  that if a  young person                                                               
does not complete  his/her education, he/she becomes  a "drain on                                                               
society."   Based  on his  experience with  AMYA in  the past  19                                                               
years, he relayed that new  students are immediately exposed to a                                                               
military style  engagement in order  to motivate them  and expose                                                               
them to  a new environment.   The  environment at AMYA  is quasi-                                                               
military; it is not a boot  camp, a juvenile justice facility, or                                                               
a treatment facility, but the  environment is designed to use the                                                               
best practices of  the military to help students  engage in their                                                               
future  accomplishments without  distractions.    There is  daily                                                               
physical activity and education.   The program runs for seventeen                                                               
and one-half months, of which  five months are in residence 24/7.                                                               
On  campus, there  are medical  services, educators,  a certified                                                               
graduate equivalency  degree (GED)  test center, and  a Work-Keys                                                               
Assessments  testing  site.   All  students  may take  the  Armed                                                               
Services Vocational Aptitude Battery  in order to assess possible                                                               
military service.   Presently, there are 153  students on campus,                                                               
and the classes  that graduated in February  and August performed                                                               
over  21,000  hours  of  community   service.    The  educational                                                               
component  provides students  the  opportunity  to obtain  credit                                                               
recovery or  get a GED, although  since 2014, a GED  is harder to                                                               
obtain.    The  academy  ranks  fifth  of  thirty-five  challenge                                                               
programs in the nation, and it  is open to youth between the ages                                                               
of  sixteen and  eighteen, who  are without  significant criminal                                                               
history  and are  drug  and  alcohol free.    Mr. Jones  provided                                                               
information about  three successful graduates, noting  that there                                                               
have been 4,665 graduates over the life of the program.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
12:00:34 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOEHL spoke in support of the academy.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON expressed his appreciation to the presenters.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
12:01:34 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON [opened public testimony].                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
12:02:30 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT MCGILL  recalled that four National  Guardsmen were killed                                                               
in Tennessee  and since then  Tennessee has armed  its guardsmen.                                                               
He informed the  committee that the Alaska National  Guard can be                                                               
armed without  new legislation, and he  strongly supported arming                                                               
guardsmen recruiters for their defense.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
12:04:26 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR HERRON, after  ascertaining no one else  wished to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:04:41 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special Committee  on Military and Veterans'  Affairs meeting was                                                               
adjourned at 12:04 p.m.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
House MLV Agenda 10.14.15.pdf HMLV 10/14/2015 9:30:00 AM