Guards at Alaska Miller event included active-duty soldiers

Anchorage Daily NewsOctober 19, 2010 

Was Joe Miller required to bring a security detail to his town hall meeting Sunday at Central Middle School in Alaska?

That's what Miller, the Republican Senate candidate, told two national cable news networks Monday in the wake of the arrest by his security squad of an online journalist at his public event.

But the school district said there was no such requirement made of Miller -- he only had to provide a hall and parking lot monitor, and advise participants of school district courtesy and food rules.

Meanwhile, the Army says that two of the guards who assisted in the arrest of the journalist and who tried to prevent two other reporters from filming the detention were active-duty soldiers moonlighting for Miller's security contractor, the Drop Zone, a Spenard surplus store and protection service.

The soldiers, Spc. Tyler Ellingboe, 22, and Sgt. Alexander Valdez, 31, are assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Richardson. Maj. Bill Coppernoll, the public affairs officer for the Army in Alaska, said the two soldiers did not have permission from their current chain of command to work for the Drop Zone, but the Army was still researching whether previous company or brigade commanders authorized their employment.

The Army allows off-duty soldiers to take outside employment if the job doesn't interfere with their readiness, doesn't risk their own injury and doesn't negatively affect the "good order" and discipline of their unit, Coppernoll said.

"They've got to be up front with the chain of command," Coppernoll said. "The chain of command needs to agree they can do that without affecting the readiness and the whole slew of things that are part of being a soldier that they need to do first."

Miller's chief guard at the Middle School event, Drop Zone owner William Fulton, said it wasn't his job to ensure soldiers complied with the regulations, though he said he informs them of their duty.

"They're adults -- they are responsible for themselves," Fulton said.

Read the complete story at adn.com

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