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Parnell won't pick new Alaska National Guard leader before leaving office

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell said Friday that he will not appoint a new adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard before leaving office.

Parnell said the new leader needs to have the stamp of approval from the incoming administration. Parnell is set to leave office Dec. 1, after losing his re-election bid to Bill Walker.

In September, Parnell asked for and received the resignation of Adjutant General Thomas Katkus amid a report involving allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct in the guard.

The report by the National Guard Bureau's Office of Complex Investigations — which Parnell said he contacted after he received concrete examples of how the command structure was failing victims — found that victims lacked confidence in the command.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has asked the Department of Defense inspector general to re-examine the evidence and conclusions it reached in investigating the guard. She said it seemed highly irregular that the inquiry conducted by the inspector general at her request would reach different conclusions than the review by the guard bureau.

The inspector general notified Murkowski earlier this year that the allegations it looked into could not be substantiated and later released a heavily redacted report.

The scandal cast a shadow over the gubernatorial election, with critics saying Parnell did not do enough in response to the allegations. Parnell has disputed that, saying he acted on every allegation brought to him.

A team that included Parnell aides and the adjutant general for Arizona, Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, reviewed applicants for the adjutant general job. Parnell said the team sent him three recommendations.

He said those recommendations will go to Walker.

"We're asking somebody to take over a very important job," Parnell said. "They need to know that they're going to have the confidence of the new administration, the new governor."

Parnell said he also believes it is important for the new administration to continue to follow the road map for change set out in the guard bureau's report.

Walker said he needs to look at the process involved in making the recommendations as he decides whether to perhaps choose from among the finalists or take a different approach.

Walker also said he would look at the recommendations made by the guard bureau for restoring confidence in leadership.

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