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Battlefield Next
Podcast Episode 9:


BG Joseph Berger III -
Modernizing Our Thinking


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Battlefield Next Podcast Episode 9: BG Joseph Berger III - Modernizing Our Thinking

June 11, 2020

BG Joseph Berger III

On today’s podcast we have BG Joseph B. Berger, the Commanding General of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the premier training, education, and analysis institution for military law. As the Commander, BG Berger is responsible for developing and executing our Army’s (and in many cases, the Joint Force’s) institutional level legal training of uniform and civilian attorneys, paralegals, and legal administrators. The Legal Center and School’s mandate is not just limited to members of the JAG Corps; it is also responsible for legal training across the Army, from what our Soldiers learn about the law of war during basic combat training to what our most senior commanders learn during their Senior and General Officer Legal Orientations, mandatory courses before they can assume command of our Nation’s sons and daughters.

In mid-May, MAJ Coffey and MAJ Wellemeyer interviewed BG Berger via Zoom to discuss a number of topics including decision-making by lawyers as leaders, lessons learned from his time with special operations units, the speed of decision-making under the OODA loop process, under-writing failure as a leader, and lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below is a timeline of some of the subject-areas discussed during the episode:

00:00 Introduction

01:05 Decision-making and lessons from SOF assignments

04:50 OODA loop, risk, and mistakes: how leaders under-write failure

06:45 Confusing “energy” with “progress”

07:49 OODA loop applied to the shift in distributed learning at TJAGLCS

13:44 How the OODA loop ties into mission command

16:10Comfort with risk and how leaders can underwrite failure to build success

20:47 Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

23:07 How stress increases at lower echelons

25:06 Closing comments by BG Berger

27:05 Book recommendations

31:55 End notes


If you’re interested in learning more about some of the topics covered during this episode, we recommend the following additional reading and resources:

Early Lessons from the U.S. Army’s Campaign to Conquer COVID-19 by Loren Thompson
Explanation of the OODA Loop

BG Berger’s Book Recommendations:

“Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong” by Eric Barker

“Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War” edited by Randy Brown and Steve Leonard
“Pale Rider: The Spanish Flue of 1918 and How it Changed the World” by Laura Spinney

For more information related to FCD you can follow us on Twitter @jagfcd or by visiting our webpage. If you have recommendations or suggestions about future topics or guests, please send us an email, or you can leave us a comment by signing in below. Finally, if you like what you hear, please leave us a review on iTunes and subscribe to "Battlefield Next" on your favorite podcast app. While this is a podcast created by US Army Judge Advocates from Future Concepts Directorate, our goal is to reach other judge advocates and lawyers across the DoD, law students, and members of academia. Your reviews help make this possible.

For more information about the US Army JAG Corps, you can go here. If you’re interested in joining the Army JAG Corps, you can get more information by contacting the Judge Advocate Recruiting Office (JARO) or by visiting their webpage.

*Music by Joseph McDade

**The views expressed on the podcast are the views of the participants and do not necessarily represent those of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the Army, the Department of Defense, or any other agency of the US Government.


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