Alaska National Guard officers fired, rehired

  • Monday, October 6, 2014 10:24pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE (AP) — The acting commander of the Alaska National Guard fired two high-ranking officers last week but reversed the decision a day later at the direction of Gov. Sean Parnell.

Brigadier Gen. Mike Bridges on Thursday asked for the resignations of Brigadier Gen. Catherine Jorgensen and Col. Edie Grunwald but rescinded the action Friday.

Both had applied to be adjutant general, the top position in the Alaska National Guard. Bridges has also applied to be the permanent commander.

Parnell directed Bridges to rehire the officers after learning that they had applied for the job. Parnell’s spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said Parnell did not want an appearance of impropriety, the Alaska Dispatch News.

Bridges, who would not say why he fired Jorgenson and Grunwald, took responsibility for the reversal.

“I initiated some leadership changes without consulting with the governor’s office, which I rescinded within 24 hours,” Bridges said Sunday. “My fault.”

The firing and rehiring is the latest development for the troubled Alaska National Guard. After allegations of sexual assault within the agency, a federal report released Sept. 4 found evidence of fraud and ethical misconduct.

Parnell asked for the resignation of Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, the adjutant general, and McHugh Pierre, his top civilian aide and the deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Parnell on Thursday said three more guard officials would be fired but that personnel laws prohibited naming them.

That same day, Bridges asked for the resignation of Jorgensen, chief of staff for the Army National Guard, and Grunwald, a senior adviser on manpower and personnel matters. He had not told Parnell, Leighow said.

The Alaska Democratic Party on Sunday questioned why Jorgensen’s firing was rescinded. She was a “central player in the chain of command that allowed sexual assault perpetrators and fraudsters to operate with impunity in the Alaska National Guard,” the party said in an announcement.

Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com

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