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Acting Adjutant General: Alaska National Guard reforms are underway

  • Author: Brig. Bridges
  • Updated: June 29, 2016
  • Published October 18, 2014

Alaskans are rightly concerned about serious allegations of abuse and misconduct within the Alaska National Guard.

While allegations surround a small number of the 4,000-member guard, we take them seriously and want to communicate what we are doing to resolve the very grave challenges we face.

This is a difficult time in our organization. We are making significant process, program, training and education changes in the guard to address the findings and recommendations in the Office of Complex Investigations report. This will take time.

The National Guard Bureau is providing assistance to us, so we can focus on taking care of our soldiers, airmen, and the mission. The bureau sent an implementation planning team, led by Brig. Gen. Jon Mott of the Connecticut Air National Guard.

We deeply appreciate the assistance of the implementation team. Three team members from across the nation are also with us as subject-matter experts, working through the process.

Guard members of all ranks and career fields volunteered to be on work teams to specifically identify steps to be taken, because change must be initiated from within if it is to be authentically adopted into guard culture. Brig. Gen. Mott's group will be here as long as it takes to facilitate the plan developed by our teams.

We will correct issues addressed in the report. Working together, we will improve our professional culture, and strengthen our operational missions.

We have a series of administrative actions under review and will not discuss details until final determinations are made. At that time, we plan to release additional information regarding outcomes.

The implementation team is facilitating guard leaders in developing an implementation plan addressing the recommendations.

The plan will contain accountability metrics, specific desired-end states, goals and objectives, milestones required to achieve it, metrics used to measure change, and other actions required to ensure completion.

The implementation team will ensure whatever tools, guidance, policy or resources required are available. State and national guard leadership will be briefed and their input welcomed.

Brig. Gen. Mott and his team have had productive interactions with the AKNG leadership and believe the leadership is committed to developing a corrective plan.

The implementation team includes qualified people from distinct areas of expertise, including an active-duty lieutenant colonel judge advocate general from the bureau; a command sergeant major from the New Mexico Army National Guard, who is a subject-matter expert in equal opportunity; and a sergeant major from the Indiana Army National Guard who is a law enforcement expert and a trained military sexual assault investigator.

Brig. Gen. Mott himself has been involved in numerous rebuilding, restructuring and reorganization projects at all levels in his 32-year military career. Mott and his team have reached to the entire staff of the bureau headquarters, as well as guard subject experts from across the country.

Even when their physical presence is no longer required, the bureau will continue to monitor and provide assistance to ensure support of the new AKNG leadership, so that they can take care of the soldiers and airmen and their mission.

In addition to the bureau implementation team, a team of auditors were in Alaska last week at the Gov. Sean Parnell's request to more thoroughly examine the management of fiscal resources. The team is comprised of the director of internal review; chief of audit operations; and a senior auditor assigned to the National Guard Internal Review Office.

The bureau audit team's initial visit will be followed by a November trip to complete the audit. This quick-response audit comes at the request of the governor. They have three months to complete the audit. The draft report is expected in December.

We are undergoing a complete change at the Alaska guard. Our soldiers and airmen deserve it, and our citizens deserve to know we are committed to transforming our culture and restoring the trust that has been so badly damaged by the actions of a few who betrayed the men and women of the guard.

Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges is the acting commandant of the Alaska National Guard.

The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.

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