Gen. Laurie Hummel took the helm of the Alaska National Guard on Tuesday during a ceremonial change of command in Anchorage. Hundreds of people attended the three-hour afternoon ceremony at the Alaska National Guard Armory on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Opening the event, Tlingit dance group the Mt. St. Elias Dancers performed a blessing and cleansing ceremony in which Hummel, Gov. Bill Walker, acting adjutant general Gen. Mike Bridges and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott were draped in Tlingit regalia and danced with the group.
Hummel told reporters afterward that the ceremony was important as a way to help "cleanse ourselves of past troubles and ... prepare us to move forward with a fresh sense of renewal."
In January, Walker named Hummel, a retired Army colonel, adjutant general of the guard and commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Her appointment followed the resignation of Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus amid allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and retribution in the guard ranks that began to surface in autumn 2013.
During Tuesday's event, Hummel thanked Bridges, who temporarily assumed command after Katkus' departure, for his "genuine and warm welcome to the guard."
Hummel began serving as adjutant general Feb 5. The change of command ceremony was held May 26 partly because it was the 33rd anniversary of Hummel's commissioning as an Army officer, she said.
"Most of you know that in 2012 I was retired -- or decommissioned, I suppose. ... And now I've been recommissioned. I kind of feel like an old battleship," she said during the ceremony.
Hummel said afterward that the guard had a new vision and that its core values would be communicated to every acting member.
Members would be held to "one set of standards" that would be applied fairly across the board, Hummel said.
Hummel said guard members are expected to "rise to the challenge of meeting the standards that are expected of every member in uniform. … In a way, this is kind of a reboot exercise. This is a reset button for everyone, leadership and rank and file as well."
After the ceremony, it was "back to business," Hummel said.
"Frankly, now there's a lot of work to be done and we're still uncovering, you know, the problem areas and the areas where we wish to focus our initial efforts," she said.