Corruption in Arizona National Guard, from "bum-hunts" to sexual harassment

A long, excellent investigative piece in the Arizona Republic documents a litany of awful and criminal practices by senior officers (especially recruiters) in the Arizona National Guard. Reporter Dennis Wagner spent five months on the project, using Freedom of Information Act requests and internal sources to uncover stomach-turning transgressions, such as recruiters who brought their recruits out to shoot homeless people with paintball guns, and sexual harassment of junior personnel by their seniors that went ignored and unpunished by the Guard.

"Bum hunts" -- Thirty to 35 times in 2007-08, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Amerson, a former "Recruiter of the Year," drove new cadets and prospective enlistees through Phoenix's Sunnyslope community in search of homeless people.

Military investigators were told that Amerson wore his National Guard uniform and drove a government vehicle marked with recruiting insignia as he and other soldiers -- some still minors -- shot transients with paintballs or got them to perform humiliating song-and-dance routines in return for money. During some of these so-called "bum hunts," female recruits said, they were ordered to flash their breasts at transients. Homeless women, conversely, were offered food, money or drinks for showing their breasts.

Amerson, during military interviews, denied paintball assaults but admitted to some wrongdoing. He was demoted to private and given an other-than-honorable discharge. Amerson declined to be interviewed for this story except to say that allegations against him were untrue.

Republic special report: Allegations against National Guard uncovered (via Super Punch)


    1. I’m just waiting for their state legislature to come up with a law that makes this conduct legal, because that’s only thing more absurd that I can think of and their state legislature keeps doing things that are more absurd than I previously thought of.

      1. Do you really think that they would risk the political fallout of allowing the national guard to horn in on the cops’ territory? 

  1. Whenever I hear about someone using their position in the military to abuse people, and especially to work against the welfare and duties of their fellow soldiers, I can’t help but think of their behavior as treasonous. (I know, it probably doesn’t fit the legal definition.) At the very least, it seems like these guys never intended to perform their duties, opting instead to lie and cheat their way into positions of authority to be used for nothing more than a safe place to operate from as they exploited the landscape of the military to act out whatever the sadistic maladies inhabiting their minds compel them to do.

    1. What’s fascinating and terrifying is how many *other* individuals were complicit in this. One always hears about the honorable individuals who join our military for the noble purpose of protecting the US from harm. It seems more and more, anecdotally at least, that the military deliberately seeks out the most crude, sadistic, lowest-common-denominators it can find.

      For those military apologists who would say this is an isolated case and not representative of the majority: you may be correct.  But statistically speaking, how do you wind up with such a concentration of jackasses without it being widespread?

      1. The recruiting surge that began in 2001 is long over. Now that our service men and women have been returning in pineboxes or alive with terrible psychological scarring, the young people aren’t as willing to go marching off to war.

        The military has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for at least five years. When you’re fighting wars all the time, don’t have a draft, and the young people who are qualified for the job are too smart to join up, the thugs, idiots and scum start looking like great soldiers. Any port in a storm, as they say.

        1.  You obviously don’t know anyone in the military nor pay much attention.  No, the military isn’t the career of choice for a lot of people but they’re definitely not “scraping the bottom of the barrel.”  I work for the Army (and have for over 10yrs) and have met hundreds if not thousands of smart, motivated and committed young men and women who enlisted not cause they had no other options but because they wanted the challenge, the training, the tradition, the danger, the pension, the….  Yeah, the news has a lot of negatives, but  what you’re seeing is the effect of new-reporting (and the news you read) rather than the day to day reality of the majority of soldiers today.,

          1. Wrong.

            The longer the war continues, the harder it’s proving to fill the U.S. Army’s ranks. A strong economy also means there are easier jobs around. So the Army is accepting a growing number of new recruits with everythging from health and weight issues to lower academic test scores to criminal records. The number of incoming soldiers with prior felony arrests or convictions has more than tripled in the past five years.

            Google search results

      2. The problem at least with the military is that if you’re signing up now you’re pretty much signing up for an unjust oil war in the middle east.  There’s no glory, you’re not ‘protecting your country’, and you’ll be killing a good number of the civilians you’re supposed to be liberating.

        I think that probably attracts a slightly different type of individual.

        1. You think that they are signing up for war? More likely signing up for the only affordable healthcare plan.

          1. Some of that too, for sure – that’s a US specific side of it I hadn’t considered.

            In the UK we don’t have that issue though, our job prospects also aren’t quite as dire as across the pond – so on the most part I chalk joining the army up to wanting to be in the army. Or at least wanting to join the army instead of working in a Warehouse. For me at least I’d pick the warehouse every time, but then some people like the idea of shooting shit.

          2. But there’s no danger

            It’s a professional career

            Though it could be arranged

            With just a word in Mr. Churchill’s ear

            If you’re out of luck or out of work

            We could send you to Johannesburg

    1. Hah! I’m surprised that he wasn’t promoted to Commanding Officer at Guantanamo. Anyway, I’m sure he has a bright future as a corrections officer in one of our better-quality domestic prisons.

    1.  Right.  A Sergeant First Class is a middling non-commissioned officer; an E-7 with NCOs as E-5 through E-9.

  2. Look at it this way, it’s soo much better to see this in a recruiter before you’ve irrevocably signed up for several years than in a superior after your already committed.

  3. The US likes to reckon that its intellectual forebearer was the ancient Greeks.

    We say Athens, but we mean Sparta.

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