Thursday, Alaska’s Governor Sean Parnell released scathing information regarding fraud and ethical misconduct revealed from an assessment that was conducted by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations. The federal investigation was requested by Gov. Parnell after years of allegations against leadership within the Alaska National Guard. Allegations included mishandling of rapes, fraud, favoritism, and ethical and sexual misconduct, according to Alaska Dispatch News.
The assessment ordered by Gov. Parnell exposed several instanced of fraud, favoritism, misconduct, and improper administration of justice. The information released included a 229-page report which also found that victims of sexual assault do not trust the Alaska National Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program due to an overall lack of trust in the command.
“The Team noted that in some instances the open door policy required the service member to schedule the meeting through their current leadership, or it provided that once scheduled the meeting would include their current leadership,” the report of the investigation explained.
“This culture of mistrust and failed leadership in the Guard ends now,” Parnell told the press. “I am extremely frustrated and I am angry that it has taken this long to get to the bottom of these issues. In hindsight, it clearly should not have taken this long, and I offer my deepest apologies.”
Parnell requested the resignation of Alaska National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus. Parnell would not comment on whether he felt Katkus was personally involved in misconduct. Katkus did resign from his position. Alaska National Guard’s commander was “forced to resign,” according to The LA Times.
The report also noted misconduct with Alaska National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention division, according to Alaska Dispatch News, including “misuse of government vehicles, fraud, adultery, inappropriate relationships and sexual assault.” This division was previously investigated for weapons smuggling, drug trafficking and rape, but the previous investigation turned up a lack of evidence. Strangely, during the previous investigation, the commander of that division of the Alaska National Guard reported directly to Katkus. Before resigning, Katkus was in his position for five years. Prior to that position, he had served in the Guard for three decade as well as 20 years as an Anchorage police officer.
“Overall, the survey reveals a perception of lack of leadership integrity within all levels of command,” the summary read in the investigators’ final report.
“Between me and my office’s multiple follow-ups with Guard leadership on these matters between 2010 and 2014, and our congressional delegation’s independent reviews by different agencies, I am extremely frustrated that it took so long to get to the root of these issues. Our Alaska Guard members deserve better; and those who have brought complaints forward deserve better,” Parnell said. “My goal now is to continue Alaska’s wholehearted support for our National Guard members in those things they do so well, and to transform it in areas identified by the Guard Bureau’s findings as needing change.”
[Public Domain Photo]