National Guard answers questions about recruiters in Anchorage Press story

Here’s a Q & A with Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, public affairs director for the Alaska National Guard, following David Holthouse’s story in the Anchorage Press about three National Guard recruiters who, according to internal documents, committed “sexual assaults and numerous cases of sexual harassment targeting fellow soldiers, new recruits, and civilian women, including high school JROTC cadets,” perpetrated by the three between 2007 to 2011. Holthouse’s story is based on the results of an internal investigation, called a 15-6, that were leaked to him. The questions are in bold.

Are they (the three recruiters) still members of the guard?

Without identifying or confirming specific names, I can tell you that recruiters who have been investigated are all still members of the Alaska National Guard until their boards are final, any appeals processes have been finalized, and administrative paperwork is completed.

When did the in investigations start, end, and who ordered it?

The first allegation of an improper relationship was reported to the organization in mid-Dec 2012; the accusation came into the organization at BG Bridges’ level and he dealt with it immediately.  A commander’s inquiry was started within 72 hours to see if the information necessitated a 15-6 Investigation.  When the veracity of the information was confirmed, a 15-6 was directed and an investigator was designated as the 15-6 investigating officer. The investigation revealed additional misconduct by other personnel, so concurrent investigations were directed and initiated within 60 days of the allegations coming into the organization. The investigator performed them all due to the interrelated nature of the circumstances.  As the investigation progressed, personnel changes occurred with Recruiting and Retention Battalion staff pending administrative actions and final determinations. All investigations were complete by February 2014.

You said that the three are answering to a DOD board. What is that board and what prosecutorial authority does it have, if any?

Military personnel administrative boards. The National Guard is under title 32 statutes, which are administered differently than title 10 active duty statutes. There is no prosecutorial authority. There are military judge advocates who represent the command and the respondents. The board for enlisted members is made up of officers. We have made it a practice to bring in officers from other states and active duty to ensure full impartiality. Officers’ packets are sent to the appropriate operational active duty command. USARPAC’s is a four-star Army general, for instance. He would impanel a board comprised of active duty, Guard, or Reserve officers, senior to the officer being reviewed.

What could happen to them if they are found guilty of the allegations? Not guilty?

If enlisted members are found guilty, the strongest outcome would be an “other than honorable discharge,” which automatically downgrades them to the rank of E-1. National Guard cannot direct dishonorable discharges. If officers are found guilty, they could be stripped of their federal recognition, could be retired at a lower grade or even lose their retirement. Some cases have to go to the Department of the Army or Department of the Air Force for ultimate disposition.

Were any of the claims against these men sent to APD or the troopers? Why or why not?

While any administrative actions are in process, we will not speak to specific cases.

To your knowledge, did Gov. Sean Parnell know about the investigation and/or about the outcome?

MG Katkus briefed Gov. Parnell about the Alaska National Guard, and so I am unable to confirm what he did or did not share with the governor.

I should know this, but of the nine cases you referred to, how many were referred to APD?

A total of nine sexual assaults occurred and were reported from January 2009 to present, in which the alleged perpetrator was a member of the Alaska National Guard. Of the nine assaults, one occurred on duty at duty location. Three occurred off-duty on a military installation. Five occurred off duty, off base. All were referred to law enforcement. Agencies included APD, AST, Palmer, and Fairbanks. As well as CID and OSI when appropriate.

Do you know who leaked the report to the Anchorage Press?

I have no idea who leaked any official documents to media. When official documents are leaked, it is a violation of the Privacy Act and DoD regulation and policy. Leaked documents are not released by anyone acting in an official capacity on behalf of the organization.

What’s changed about the Guard’s recruiting office?

Lt Col Charles Knowles was assigned in June 2012. He has rebuilt the recruiting team and has brought assigned strength up to 100%. He reassigned six recruiters to other duties outside of the recruiting office. A seventh recruiter left the local unit, another was terminated from his position, and another was assigned a temporary duty pending administrative actions.

From Lt. Col. Knowles:

The RRB has spent the last two years changing personnel and how we do business.  We are redirecting our marketing partnerships and recruiting efforts back into high schools, college campuses, and other family-oriented associations in order to communicate all of the opportunities for service, camaraderie, and personal growth young men and women can find in the Alaska Army National Guard.  We are also making ourselves an asset by partnering with community organizations, participating in local community events, and actively looking for professional/leadership development groups so we can educate interested people and parties about the Army Guard’s mission, our values, and why our men and women are important to the state of Alaska and its communities.  Our recruiters are engaging service-minded people every day and educating them on the benefits of being a Soldier and an Army Guard member.  Ultimately, our enlistment numbers support the fact that we are a great organization interested in the faithful execution of our duties and care of our Soldiers and their families.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


31 thoughts on “National Guard answers questions about recruiters in Anchorage Press story

  1. Ken Blaylock

    The Public Affairs Officer says, “The first allegation of an improper relationship was reported to the organization in mid-Dec 2012.” However, in 2010 I reported one of the soldiers in question as a sexual predator and drug dealer to the police. Then Colonel Bridges conducted an investigation on me for reporting outside the chain of command. I was investigated but not what I reported. I was given a General Officer Memorandum Of Reprimand. This is one of the same soldiers now identified as a sexual predator. It was in also 2010 that myself, victims, and a chaplain went to the Governor’s office to report the Sex Crimes.

  2. Lensky

    Amanda, Frank’s comment really deserves a wider audience. How about making it the Quote of the Day?

  3. AH HA

    Lynn, I am a former Alaska Guard Member who left the Guard in disgust after an extensive investigation that had been conducted in 1994 came to light in 1995. This was called the Hightower investigation and it produced more than 100 allegations of racial bias, official misconduct, theft of government property and misuse of government property. All of the allegations were highly credible and well substantiated. When the report from this investigation became public Governor Knowles established the Alaska National Guard Board of Inquiry with Administrative order 151 and then amended the boards scope and duties with Administrative order 153. The Board was to investigate the allegations and develop a course of action and report their findings and recommendations to the Adjutant General (Jake Lestinkof) the Governor (Tony Knowles) and the leadership of both houses of the legislature. Speaker(Ramona Barnes) President of the Senate: Lyman Hoffman.

    I at first thought that the Governors efforts were laudable but as the year finished out and the Board Met and then dissolved and no other actions were taken I slowly began to realize that nothing other than lip service was going to occur. Since then three separate governors have had opportunities to address the leadership problems that Have Plagued the National Guard for more than a decade and none have done so. Not Knowles, Not Murkowski, Not Plain. Our current governor is also guilty of making an attempt to have this ‘Just go away’ but the issue has grown so bad that he was unable to hide it any longer.

    Yes, The governor should have done a lot more and should have acted a lot sooner. However, there are a lot of people who had many chances to do something to correct the well known toxic culture in the Alaska National Guard and did absolutely nothing.

  4. All I Saw

    Yeah Frank. The chronic sexual abuse of recruits is a vast left wing plot to discredit the Princes of the Alaska Republican Party.

    Shame on you.

    Shame on ALL of you.

  5. Les Moore

    National Guard recruiters sexually assaulting high school girls is an “invented crisis” ?

    What planet do you live on, Frank ???


  6. Frank McQueary

    I am amazed that someone was willing to actually print something factual about the various actions taken by the Guard. The current witch hunt right before an election is reminiscent of the deceitful attacks on Ted Stevens just before the 2008 election. Some of the same unprincipled reporters are in the middle of this one too. Hopefully the Alaskan voters learned there lesson in 2008 and will elect Dan Sullivan to replace Begich and return Sean Parnell to the Governor’s office.

    The vacuous rumors and innuendo surrounding this invented crisis are part and parcel of a desperate attempt to save Mark Begich.

  7. Lensky

    Twenty-seven people have put in to be the new TAG and Sean Parnell will select one. Relax. What could possibly go wrong?

  8. joeblow

    I wonder how much bandwagon jumping is going on here, supposed recruits that suddenly realize that they can get in line for the gravy train.

  9. Lynn Willis

    Alaska created the position that allows a State Commissioner to wear the uniform of a Two-Star General Officer. It was a mistake then and it is a mistake now. After this debacle involving Katkus we should end the practice. We will never know if Katkus was acting as a loyal Commissioner to the Governor or a responsible Commander of his troops as he acted. He couldn’t do both if the primary objective was to protect the Governor or to provide for the welfare of his subordinates.
    No single individual should be given that much authority. Now, despite claims that the Alaska National Guard needs to have stable leadership, this new general might serve for less than 100 days when a new Commissioner is appointed. I trust the candidates for appointment realize this.

  10. Jack Morgan

    Twenty-seven applicants are vying for TAG of the Alaska National Guard. Governor Parnell will vet the best person for the position. Meanwhile, Democrats scream, “Governor Parnell did not act quickly enough.” Ladies and gentlemen, this scandal took several decades to reach this point. Past administrations ignored the problems, including I assume, the Knowles Administration. This will not be fixed overnight; the law will grind away. Thankfully, Governor Parnell is taking steps to remedy the Alaska National Guard. He is the only Governor to make this happen. Governor Parnell securely has my vote. He is head and shoulders above all others.

  11. akmom

    I agree, Lynn. Without an investigation by a special prosecutor, I simply do not trust anything the guard leadership has to say in this matter. The timeline from report to, well still no resolution, is too long for credibility. That includes the credibility of the Governor.

    Jon K: I did not say that the Governor did nothing. I believe that he did contact General Katkus (fox) and asked him about the operations (henhouse) and was told all was well. The Governor gets a pass on the first report of trouble. But the continued contact from the chaplains and Senator Dyson warranted further and deeper inquiry by the Governor. That is his failing.

  12. Jon K

    Lynn, my point is simple: Parnell said he was told that cases involving sexual abuse were referred to law enforcement and that the Guard was conducting investigations. This seems to be confirmed by Amanda’s reporting. I am NOT saying Parnell did all he should have done. My point is far more modest.

  13. Lynn Willis

    Maybe they meant “nothing” in the context you mention – doing something to involve an investigative agency with subpoena power and the ability to charge individuals with a crime including perjury and/or finding out where, for instance, the records are of the process that Katkus claims allowed the Anchorage Police and the State Troopers to not open investigations in 21 of the 29 cases. I can understand use of the word “nothing” in that context and tend to agree it is an apt description.

  14. Lynn Willis

    What you say is not correct. Governor Parnell called in a non-judical investigative agency from the National Guard Bureau. Now another non-judicial audit team is here. A non-judicial team to help align the guard and pick a new Commissioner is here The Governor did not and has not referred any aspect of this to actual law enforcement. Why don’t you ask him why he has not yet done that or does he ever plan to do so?

  15. Lynn Willis

    You make some good points. Amazing that nobody seems to be able to reconcile the testimony of those Chaplains and others with the punishments meted out so far. What have we seen? We have the resignations of two Parnell appointees followed by the dismissal of two Guard senior officers with reinstatement by the Governor the next day and now three NCOs facing board action. I am not aware of a single civil arrest or prosecution associated with this episode.. Given the numbers reported, to me, that just doesn’t add up when Katkus himself (a former police officer) used the term “sexual assault” to describe the 29 allegations. I know that term doesn’t mean the same as “sexual harassment”.
    At some point parents and guardians are going to have to ask themselves if they would trust their children to this organization. I served in it 22 years and at one time would have said “yes”. Now I don’t know what I would say.

  16. Jon K

    Your man Walker said he did nothing. Ak Mom in the comment above also said Parnell did nothing. Shannyn Moore said he did nothing……

    I too want to know what the hell law enforcement did with these cases and j want to know why these investigations are taking so long.

  17. Jon K

    I agree completely w Radical. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. Nobody has been absolved of anything. But this does confirm Parnell’s story – he was assured that there were investigations and when sufficient evidence came to light, the matters were referred to law enforcement. The next question that needs to be examined is why did Parnell and others continue to have faith in Katkus.

    AK mom has no support for their charge that Parnell did nothing for four years. Too many people are assuming the worst of Parnell. I’m not sure it is justified based on what we know.

  18. Straitlaced Radical

    I don’t believe anyone said this absolves anyone. I just appreciate that someone was willing to ask some straight questions and provide some straight answers. There is certainly more to know, but I don’t have any confidence that other media outlets are interested on straight and fair reporting.

  19. Lynn Willis

    Who has said Parnell did “nothing”? While he seemed to have wanted to wait for proof beyond a reasonable doubt before he finally did act, the question is has he done the right thing? Now we see where Recruiting and Retention was allowed for two years to handle this single aspect under the provisions of a non-judicial investigation. How would you like to have been a victim or a suspect waiting for that process to end and all that seems to have happened is these soldiers who really haven’t been convicted by anything approaching a judicial process face less than honorable discharges? The Lt. Col. used the term “occurred” so she must be convinced they did something and what of the contact with civil law enforcement regarding these cases? What became of that?
    If they did nothing they are likely being railroaded as scapegoats; however, if they did commit actual crimes than they have gotten a free pass. The sad fact is we will never know. There was too much parsing of this scandal and that is apparently what was wanted at least by Katkus and who knows by whom else? Again, we will never know.

  20. akmom

    From the comments on this post, I gather that everyone is in agreement that this somehow absolves Governor Parnell. I am not in agreement. Note that Lt Col Olmstead reports that she has no knowledge of any conversation between Katkus and the Governor. What we do know is that the Chaplains made 2 contacts with the Governor in 2010. A new leader for the recruitment section was not appointed until 2012. By my math that would be TWO years later. Why are they still members of the Guard after 4 years?

    General Katkus was an appointee serving at the pleasure of the Governor. There is no excuse for Governor Parnell not following up on the concerns that were presented to him by numerous sources over 4 years. If he had done something even one year ago, this would not be an issue. He waited. Maybe due to misplaced loyalty to someone who wasn’t worthy of it but nonetheless, he waited. People were hurt, careers of whistleblowers were ruined, and predators continued to use the system for protection.

    So, no, I do not believe this nine question interview with Lt Col Olmstead releases the Governor from all responsibility as some posters are suggesting.

    I appreciate that Amanda did provide the interview however

  21. Lynn Willis

    According to this Lt. Col, nine cases of sexual misconduct (which she described as having “occurred”) precipitated an internal non-judiciary investigation under the provisions of Army Regulation (AR) 15-6. How the command could be satisfied that the effort was done by a single officer who took from December 2012 to February 2014 (at least 13 months) is baffling. Is this investigation the source that Parnell relied on to finally act?

    Again we are told that a question of jurisdiction is apparent. This is what the state statute says regarding the National Guard:

    Sec. 26.05.060. Control of Alaska National Guard and Alaska Naval Militia. The governor as ex officio commander of the militia of the state has command of the Alaska National Guard and the Alaska Naval Militia while they are not in active federal service. The governor may adopt necessary regulations for them. The Alaska National Guard and the Alaska Naval Militia and their members are subject to all federal laws and regulations relating to the National Guard and Naval Militia of the several states and territories and of the United States.

    Now were these purported sexual offenses of such a minor nature that would not rise to the level of a civil crime but would have violated a National Guard Regulation? Either way there is jurisdiction for the resolution of these cases. I understand that Guard members, unless on federal active duty, are not subject to the UCMJ; however they are still subject to “all federal laws and regulations relating to the National Guard”. Many of these reports involving the Guard are cases of serious suspected sexual misconduct. In this situation, if the initial veracity of the information indicated that any one of these nine occurrences or any others in the Guard rose to the level of a civil crime that should have ended the involvement of General Katkus or anybody in his command. But did it?

    (Then) General Katkus in his ADN Compass Article dated 29 Oct 2013 makes the claim that since 2009, 29 cases of “alleged sexual assault” (not just “sexual misconduct” as described by the Lt. Col) had been reported. Apparently these nine cases of sexual misconduct were not included or were included but not described as sexual misconduct by Gen. Katkus. The General attempts to explain the disposition of these cases but what he does not state is that he either disposed of the cases using “all federal laws and regulations relating to the Guard “ or turned them over to civil authorities. And there-in could lie the suspected purposeful clouding of jurisdiction for purposes of obfuscation.

    Bottom line is thanks for your efforts Amanda; however, because he refuses to appoint a special prosecutor to verify the jurisdictional question in each case and then insure justice is provided to both the victims, the suspected perpetrators of the sexual mis-conduct and to those who appear to have conspired to cover up this scandal, Governor Parnell has ended his involvement other than to get this behind him as soon as he can. Likewise legislative leadership is indicating they want nothing to do with this either. This is a sad episode in Alaskan history and because of how it was handled, will probably repeat itself.

  22. Borealis

    I agree with the sarcastic comments about Dermott. Ever since he joined the Dispatch, I think he left his journalistic ethics in Fairbanks. Too bad. Who would have ever though that we would long for the days of Howard Weaver and the Anchorage Daily News? Amanda, keep up the good work. You have become an important part of so many of our lives. I wish the new owners of the Dispatch would promote greater professionalism.

  23. Sam P.

    Wow, Amanda. Thanks for sharing this. The political operatives who call themselves journalists have been put to shame by you, for even though you admit your bias, you make an effort to report fairly. They do not. You have set the bar much higher for yourself, so kudos to you.

  24. Jon K

    I predict we will see a hard hitting piece from Dermot Cole examining the press’ failure to properly cover this story, interview the appropriate people, and get the facts out. If there is one thing Dermot cares about, it is accurate and honest reporting. (This is sarcasm.)

  25. Straitlaced Radical

    My guess is that one would have to actually be interested in facts and willing to ask questions whose answers might not support the preferred narrative.

  26. Jon K

    Looking forward to hearing Lynn’s response. At least we can put to be that Parnell did nothing. Why didn’t Jill Burke, Rich Mauer, the Anchorage Press, or other reporters provide this type of info?

  27. Liz H.

    This is what we need – – more information, straight forward without spin or editorial comment. Thanks Amanda.

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