Recruiters for the National Guard hunted homeless people with paintball guns and committed a litany of ethical and criminal violations including sexual abuse, forgery, embezzlement and assault, The Arizona Republic charged after a five-month investigation.
The wrongdoing was allegedly committed by military recruiters who visit high schools to sign up teenage recruits. Investigators who spoke to the newspaper said National Guard commanders failed to hold subordinates accountable, and charged high-ranking officers generated an "atmosphere of disdain" for discipline. Upon reviewing the newspaper's findings, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced plans for a probe to be conducted by an out-of-state National Guard officer.
"The governor is calling for a full, fair and independent review of the Arizona National Guard, its operations, the personnel and discipline handed out in response to some of these incidents," said Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer.
Behavior at the Arizona National Guard documented in military records included "bum hunts," where 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, according to the Republic. Military investigators were told that Amerson and other soldiers -- some still minors -- shot transients with paintballs or got them to perform humiliating song-and-dance routines in return for money.
There were also multiple cases of sexual misconduct, schemes to collect unwarranted recruiting bonuses and forgery and falsification of academic documents, medical files and fitness tests to make potential enlistees eligible for service, according to the paper.