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The Army Lawyer


Judge Advocates Need to Provide Stability to Changing Army



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(Credit: Jason Wilkerson, TJAGLCS)

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Undersecretary of the Army Hon. Ryan D. McCarthy stressed the need for judge advocates to provide stability to the Army as it begins a period of renaissance, during a speech he gave at the WWCLE in September 2018.

Undersecretary McCarthy began with a discussion of leadership, which includes giving people time with their colleagues. He noted that lawyers are important to policy makers and gave the Bin Laden raid as an example where lawyers played a role in success.

He noted that the Army is currently involved in the most fundamental restructuring of the Army since 1973 and that lawyers are part of that effort. What the Army needs from lawyers is not to say “no,” but to provide a better way to accomplish its goals. McCarthy discussed Army Futures Command in the context of the 2018 National Defense Strategy. He discussed institutionalizing capabilities and modernization programs against the backdrop of a multi-billion dollar increase (albeit temporary) in defense spending. As he said, money matters, and the Army leadership has a “laser focus” on combat readiness ratings. Even so, modernization is about more than money. The timeline for defense programs has historically been twenty years. We have a geographically disparate acquisition process. Hence, the impetus for the Cross Functional Teams (CFTs), led by post-Brigade commanders.

Transitioning to the details, McCarthy stated that Lieutenant General (LTG) Eric Wesley, the Deputy Commanding General for Future Concepts, is working with Combat Development to strengthen our formations. The primary question is what do we need? Lieutenant General Jim Richardson was recently selected to be the Deputy Commanding General for Combat Development precisely to answer this question. With the establishment of this new command, TRADOC and AMC will be “under one roof.” There will be a fusion and exchange of ideas at Futures Command. There will be opportunities for small businesses. We as an organization need to get better at contracting—we need to do things faster and more efficiently.

McCarthy also discussed how we measure success, how we “put points on the board.” According to him, if the operating concept is clear, and the warfighter wants it, any new technology or system will succeed. As such, we need to bring requirements and the acquisition process closer together. We have six priorities for investment, which translates into twenty-one systems. Fiscal years 2020 through 2024 will involve major muscle movements in the budget to fund these systems. He used the term “tough love” to describe choices the leadership will need to make. While our current budget includes a substantial funding increase, the budgets that follow will likely be flat on defense spending, with the potential for decreases.

Finally, the undersecretary returned to the role of lawyers in the way we need to do business to win. He said in terms of contract law, there are new authorities from past NDAAs that have not been “embraced” which could conceivably help us do things faster and more efficiently. He said we need an “IP strategy” for the Army. He cited the work of the Talent Management Task Force of two years ago, which gave us increased talent management authorities. Ultimately, he said the bureaucratic process is weighing us down. TAL


MAJ Lepir is an associate professor in the Criminal Law Department at TJAGLCS.