Chapter 7_Fight at the Museum: Epilogue

Blogger’s Notes: In Chapter 6,  I had fun, satirically putting the “Fight at the Museum,” to prose. In chapter  7, I conclude with my final thoughts:

  • Advocate restoration of the California Military History Museum and champion co-existence with the Oakland Military Institute; and
  • Challenge California’s Fourth Estate to research and report the truth behind the “Fight at the Museum.”


A Cal Guard Historical Irony. The son of California National Guard History Society Board Member, Sgt. Maj. Emery Frank, was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995. By declaring the Adjutant General in charge of the California Military History Foundation, Gov. Jerry Brwon in essence disqualified CW4 Ray Frank for California's Military Museum by virtue of the fact that Frank wasn't a member of the California National Guard. Frank was killed in Mogadishu when a Rocket Propelled Grenade struck his helicopter providing protective fire for Night Stalkers and ground force members rescuing forces trapped in the city.
Induction Delayed. CW4 Ray Frank (2nd from right  in left photo/2nd from right in right photo) is in the United States Army Aviation Hall of Fame. Frank was killed in the 1993 battle of Mogadishu after a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) struck his helicopter providing protective fire to a downed Helicopter. Frank’s father, Sgt. Maj. Emery Frank was on the California National Guard Historical Society’s first board of directors. Gov. Jerry Brown’s quirky decision that The Adjutant General (TAG) is in charge of the California State Military Museum not only caused the Museum to close down, but excluded Frank and all other California veterans who were not “Citizen Soldiers” as the Cal Guard defines them, from being remembered in the state’s military museum .

A Tale of Two Charities

While the charity of veterans propelled the Museum toward a nascent “Reserve Component War College,” so to speak, the charity of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) pulled the Oakland Military Institute (OMI) from the brink of extinction.

Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities,” is eerily similar to Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin’s “Fight at the Museum.” Borrowing from Dickens’ work, the “Fight at the Museum” has been the best of times, the worst of times, a time of great promise, and a time of great foolishness. The Dynasty’s takeover of the California Military  History Foundation (CMHF) encompasses all Dickens’ classic’s themes of resurrection, water, darkness and light, and social justice.


The OMI resurrected Gov. Jerry Brown’s Innovative Military Projects and Career Training (IMPACT) Program. Brown envisioned IMPACT as a national model for lifting “at risk, inner city kids” from the gloom of unemployment, to the prospects of prosperity.  From its implementation in 1978 through 1992, IMPACT flourished.

The State-funded State Military Department project established IMPACT academies in South Central and East Los Angeles, San Jose, Modesto, Compton, Glendale, and San Diego; enrolled more than 270 candidates annually; and placed an unprecedented 80 percent of its graduates in jobs or the military, according to 1992 “Golden Bear” Exercise visitor program published by the 69 Public Affairs Detachment.

As Oakland Mayor, Brown was able to resurrect the concept in 2004 under Assembly Bill 1137, the Charter School Reform Act, opening the door for private donations and sponging off NDAA funding appropriations for the Cal Guard’s ChalleNGe Grizzly Youth Programs to staff the OMI.


The Dynasty obviously pandered to Governor Brown’s OMI vision, unleashing the “unconscious” forces of water into their “Fight at the Museum.” Baldwin’s spate of machinations destroyed the Museum’s revenue flows, and overflowed the OMI’s reservoir with ChalleNGe Youth staff paid from the NDAA budget; and private donations from the Charter School Foundation Brown established in 2004.  But the maneuvers partially submerged the State Military Department’s mission readiness posture.

Baldwin not only subjugated the Museum to the Youth and Community Programs Task Force (YCPTF), but foolishly interrupted military emergency response planning. The adjutant general peeled off strategic planning staff from EXERCISE UNITED RESPONSE (EUR), to draft the OMI strategic plan fortifying Oakland’s academy, and surging additional academies in the Los Angeles Area.

EUR was a highly intensive, multi-agency,  regional exercise to test the Southern California Catastrophic Earthquake Response Plan (SCCERP, applying the concept of a “Dual Status Command (DSC).” The DSC is a unified command of Active Duty and Reserve Component forces under the command of a Governor-appointed officer in support of civilian-led task forces.

The EUR  After Action Report (AAR) noted three State Military Department flaws: lack of a strategic planning staff; need to draft a detailed Military Department Southern California Earthquake Response Plan and nest it into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) regional plan; and solidify the relationship between high level California Emergency Agency (since re-designated officer of Emergency Services-OES, then key state agencies/departments) and private-public partnerships (PPP).

Because of the OMI procrastination, the Military Department opted  for a less detailed “All Hazard” Emergency Response Plan, gambling that a “one plan fits all catastrophes” will not hinder military response or cost lives if a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocks Southern California, and without partnering with PPPs in continuous planning and exercises. The latter may have mitigated the February 2014 infiltration of a power grid in remote Santa Clara, and powered down vital information to law enforcement previous to the November 15, 2015 terrorist attack in Santa Barbara County. A colleague with (more than 40 years of)  experience in state security and emergency management I plan on collaborating on future posts testing  this hypothesis.

That the OMI strategic plan distracted readiness, and dampened Cal Guard readiness.

Darkness and Light

James Armstead. War College Professor, Rand Consultant, and lecturer.
James Armstead.
War College Professor, Rand Consultant, and lecturer.

While this diversion perhaps illustrates the darker side of the Dynasty’s ambitions, the Foundation’s lecture program symbolized the messianic light the Museum’s founding fathers envisioned. In a manner of speaking, former acting California Center for Military  History (CCMH) Commander COL (CA) Fred Rutledge had the Museum on the cusp of becoming a “Reserve Component and State Defense Force War College.” Rutledge managed the distinguished and experienced lecturers the Foundation hosted.

Naval War College Professor James Armstead, for example, instructed abridged War College military sciences and art courses for CSMR officers choosing to participate. For the SDF officer, Armstead’s lectures were invaluable professional military training that active Guard and Reserve Officers receive under the 1903 Militia Act, but denied the SDF because of a  dysfunctional relationship between the Department of Defense (DoD) and State Defense Forces (SDF). Funneling SDFs through Armstead’s courses via webcam could bridge that relationship gap, providing an avenue for DoD’s professional military advice via the CCMH. If the State Military Department genuinely cared about the CSMR’s military professionalism, they would consider collaborating with the National Guard Bureau (NGB) and DoD to petition the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to integrate this program into policy for SDFs.

But Armstead’s expertise in international affairs also offers opportunities for the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP) and integration into state policy. Armstead–a Rand consultant, international attorney, and Ukrainian expert–has the know how to teach SPP officers,  Governors’ and Legislative staffs how to formulate state international policy, and state civilian and military operations. This would empower California’s partnership with Ukraine and Nigeria and involve California, the world’s 10th largest economy, partnering with the U.S. Department of State in diplomacy; if California’s military and civilian leadership chose to be imaginative, instead of lethargic.

Donna and Cecil Axelson accept a plaque of appreciation form the California Military History Foundation in remembrance of their son, Matt Axelson, one of three Navy Seals who died in Marcus Luttrel's book, "One Survivor." Matt Axelsen would have been the latest Californian enshrined at the California Military History Museum if not for Gov. Jerry Brown's mandate to close the museum. The State Military Department ordered all documentations of the visit destroyed in August 2014.
Donna and Cordell Axelson accept a plaque of appreciation form the California Military History Foundation in remembrance of their son, Matt Axelson, one of three Navy Seals who died in Marcus Luttrel’s book, “One Survivor.”

But perhaps the poignant presentation of Donna and Cordell Axelson delivered in May 2014, venerated the Museum’s primordial purpose. The Axelsons told of  their son, Sonar Technician Second Class Matthew Axelson, who died in Afghanistan pursuing Taliban operative Ahmand Shah in 2005. Hospital Corpsman First Class Marcus Lutrell told the story of Axelson, Seal Team-leader Michael P. “Murph” Murphy; and communications specialist Danny Dietz in his book, “Lone Survivor.” The Axelson’s mission was to secure a place in the California Military History Museum where youth, like the OMI cadets, could learn to  relate to service–be it military, Peace Corps, or Community Service–America’s duty to provide it, and their future role as citizens to perform it.

The CMHF was willing to share this messianic light with the Military Department and OMI, but the Dynasty obviously preferred the darkness of their ambition to inflate the bureaucracy inside the YCPTF.

Social Justice

But like Dickens’ classic story, the norms of bureaucratic nature will likely overwhelm OMI’s philanthropic intent at some point. Having escaped a challenging background, my brothers and I have an affinity for programs like OMI, and cheer for its continued success. But we are also realistic that a surging Bureaucracy tends to become unmanageable, unaccountable, and depersonalized, eventually shackling those they’re charged to help escape their environment.

The Cal Guard distancing itself from its partnership with the Huntington Park and South Gate Police Department’s Leadership, Empowerment and Discipline (LEAD) abuse allegations is, in my experience, a sign of bureaucratic deterioration. But it can also be an opportunity to “right size” a bureaucracy and restore military professionalism. Transferring the Youth Programs mission to the CSMR and establishing a DoD-SDF interaction would: empower the DoD to advise Police and Military Drill instructors in the appropriate application of physical discipline tactics and techniques; minimize the probability of crossing over into abuse; infuse grassroots volunteer support–thus reducing administrative costs, and maximize military professionalism.

But the Dynasty seems to favor surging the YCPTF bureaucracy, creating corporate welfare bureaucracy, and generating profits for an elite oligarchy. The Dynasty may be tempting a backlash from its disenfranchised publics, inviting a call for social justice when ChalleNGe Youth Programs cease being a NDAA priority, Charter School Donations dwindle after Brown’s departure, and an oversized bureaucracy is hungering to be fed.

Social justice need not be the overreaction of the peasantry against the aristocracy as in the “Tale of Two Cities.” It can be the co-existence of nonprofit, military organizations through positive reformation that can bring about a favorable conclusion to a “Tale of Two Charities.”

And perhaps avoid awakening California’s Fourth Estate.

Duping the Fourth Estate

Perhaps there’s truth to the Dynasty’s boast, “This is not your Grandfathers’ National Guard;” but maybe that’s because California’s Fourth Estate no longer challenges the State Military Department/California National Guard.

Our Grandfathers’ National Guard worked within the scope of the Doctrine of Civilian Control of the Military to build the Military History Museum. Maj. Gen. Glenn C. Ames, Maj. Gen. Anthony Palumbo, and Maj. Gen. Robert C. Thrasher clearly had this doctrine in mind when they established the California National Guard Historical Society (CNGHS), its bylaws, its creed for State Military Department advisory role, and subordination of a state defense force history detachment to the California National Guard History Society (CNGHS), later the California Military History Foundation.

It was California’s civilian control of “Military Museum Activities” doctrine, so to speak, where this doctrine was forged in union with California’s the judicial, legislative, and executive institutions. A doctrine that withstood both the test and passage of time.

Perhaps California’s Fourth Estate, the once vibrant military press corps, was paramount for this doctrine’s survival. Maj. Gen. Thrasher, the adjutant general under whom I was hired full-time for public affairs, stressed the Military Department’s obligation to respect this press corps’ First Amendment rights to accurate and timely information, and the public’s right to know via the press.

Thrasher would have neither authorized, nor sanctioned Lt. Col. (CA) Darren Bender’s press message, “We [the State Military Department] had no leverage [of the so-called old system]. We had no ability to use any other entity. They [the Foundation] essentially had full authority to operate autonomously using state funds.”

“Of course we have no leverage,” I can imagine leaders like Thrasher scolding, “it’s supposed to be that way!” Bender’s statement is out of context of both time and Constitutional intent. The Dynasty’s approval of his statements slaps with Constitutional apostasy. The Dynasty seems determined to continue down its road of revising history, rewriting state laws, manipulating federal laws, and interloping into museum and state defense force management, if one reads their Sept. 16 memorandum titled, “National Guard Bureau (NGB) Museum Operations.”

Although the memorandum purports to have the legal sanction of the National Guard Bureau and U.S. Army Investigator General (IG), in military realpolitik it’s a rigmarole of the State (IG) substituting itself for the Federal IG in an attempt to maneuver around a pending United States Army Center for Military History review. A review that could conceivably restore the California Military History Foundation as the Army History Center’s field office overseeing the Museum Historical activities on the West Coast. The quasi officious report is the product of the state IG plying the NGB’s J-8 (Comptroller) and California’s United States Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO) to conjure up a report justifying their assault on the museum. The report is spotty on several fronts:

  • First, Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin front loaded the investigation with questions challenging the California State Military Museum (CSMM) accountability of artifacts, weapons, and donated monies.
  • Second, the report examines the CSMM’s management of these resources for 2014, the year after the State Military Department disenfranchised the Foundation, forced them to layoff their staff, undermined their authority over the California Center for Military History (CCMH). The State Military Department had already confiscated Museum artifacts, and disbursed them  throughout the state. Of course a report examining a staff that was no longer in existence would find they were accountable, since they were longer around to be accountable or to dispute false allegations.
  • Third, the report does not reconcile findings of the Sacramento Superior Court and Sacramento Police reports with the questions of weapons accountability, theft, and sale as Baldwin alleged. The Sacramento Superior Court investigated these allegations and exonerated the Foundation on grounds the allegations lacked merit. The Sacramento Police Department complaints charged personnel in the Dynasty’s Youth Programs and Community Task Force (YCPTF) with stealing, selling, and losing Museum Weapons, not Foundation employees as the NGB Memorandum implicates.
  • Finally, the report makes no mention of the California USPFO liaison artifacts responsible officer (ARO) who agreed that the Foundation and the United States Army Center for Military History that the CCMF was the Army’s Field Office. The warrant officer died before California’s Adjutant General requested the so-called investigation, creating an imbroglio the Dynasty could exploit. If the manager had lived, he could have cleared up much of the misunderstanding about the Foundation’s authority and the Military Department’s advisory role.

The California Military Department is the state’s smallest agency with draconian powers to lobby for legislation and misapply federal statutes to satisfy their personal ambitions. They have successfully used this power to structure a labyrinthine of policy and bureaucracy that obstructs justice, hinders oversight, and eludes detection. There is little doubt the Dynasty will distribute the Sept. 16, 2015 memorandum to the press claiming it’s an official investigation. It is more of a cover-up to dupe reporters, elected leaders, and the public.

With no military beat and few, if any, reporters with military experience, it’s understandable if journalists hesitate to negotiate through this maze of broken policy, conflicting law, and bifurcated administration to expose the truth about the Dynasty’s “Fight at the Museum.”

Hopefully, this series of  posts clarifies some of this complexity, stimulates further investigation, and revives a healthy media skepticism that challenges the State Military Department/California National Guard to respect the Fourth Estate, not dupe it.


I will be collaborating with some of California’s retired, experienced state emergency management and state security experts for a future blog, asking whether systematic failures in intelligence and emergency management planning could be partially responsible for the 2015 San Bernardino Terrorist, attack and the 2014 Santa Clara power grid intrusion. Stay tuned.