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JAG NCOs Tryout New ACFT

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(Credit: SFC Bryan Ortiz)

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JAG NCOs Tryout New ACFT

By now you’ve probably heard about the Army’s new physical fitness test: the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The ACFT is currently being fielded as a gender and age neutral test promised to better measure the overall fitness of each Soldier. The ACFT isn’t an idea merely being thrown out for feedback; it will be the tool that the Army will use to assess the physical readiness of Soldiers. The JAG Corps needs to be ready for the ACFT.

On 18 September 2018, a group of JAG Corps noncommissioned officers (NCOs) executed a demonstration of the ACFT for over 250 senior judge advocates attending the Worldwide CLE at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia. When it comes to the difficulty of the events, “you are absolutely going to feel it,” LTG Charles N. Pede explained to the audience prior to the demonstration. “Most individuals will be using muscle groups that they don’t use that often.” The ACFT measures much more than the current Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). The APFT assesses only muscular and aerobic endurance, whereas the ACFT is believed to assess strength, power, speed, aerobic endurance, and agility. Furthermore, the ACFT is believed to considerably enhance combat readiness while decreasing injury, and have more predictive power for combat performance.

The ACFT demonstration covered five of the six events, leaving out the familiar two-mile run. The NCOs ran two lanes, with a station for each of the five events in each lane, rotating groups of approximately twenty-five participants through the five stations. At each station, the NCOs would demonstrate the event by talking through the motions, followed by execution of the event. The participants were given time to ask questions and attempt the event; many accepted the challenge and provided valuable feedback. Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Osvaldo Martinez Jr. closed the ACFT demonstration by informing the participants that “the ACFT has been linked to the readiness of our Army.” Command Sergeant Major Martinez reminds us all that “as senior leaders in the Army, we must all embrace this change and prepare ourselves for the change, while also preparing our Soldiers. Soldiers will do what leaders do.”

The first draft of the U.S. Army ACFT Field Testing Manual was published by HQDA on 6 September 2018, which promises the ACFT to be the physical fitness test of record beginning in FY21. Within the manual, each of the six events are thoroughly explained, an appropriate testing site is defined, and specific test equipment requirements are clearly listed. The manual also includes the proposed instructions and a sample of the proposed ACFT scorecard. The Headquarters for the Department of the Army also published the Army Combat Fitness Test Training Guide, in an effort to “provide exercises that will help Soldiers successfully prepare to take the ACFT.” Unsurprisingly, the guide lists many familiar exercises from Physical Readiness Training (PRT), which the Army has been conducting for nearly a decade. The guide provides visual references, equipment lists, step by step instructions for execution of the exercises, as well as recommendations for the number of sets and repetitions for the exercises.

The best way to prepare for the new test is by physically attempting all of the ACFT events and incorporating the Army’s recommended preparation exercises into our current fitness regimen. Share your new-found knowledge with the Soldiers to your left and right. Proactively incorporate exercises into your current PRT sessions that will prepare your Soldiers for this test. Don’t complain about the changes, embrace them—enthusiastically.

(Photo provided by Strategic Initiatives Office)

U.S. Army South OSJA Hosts Inter-American Forum

From 11-13 December 2018, U.S. Army South OSJA hosted the 6th annual Inter-American Forum on Military Justice & Operational Law. The Inter-American Forum is a regional security cooperation legal engagement among partner nation senior legal advisors in the Army South AOR. The purpose of the Inter-American Forum is to facilitate exchange of information between these senior legal advisors and their U.S. counterparts, facilitate interoperability, become a “think tank” in which to discuss common challenges facing military justice systems in the region, and share legal “lessons learned” in all areas of military law, including operational law. Senior legal advisors from eight countries in South & Central America and the Caribbean attended the event: Peru, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Honduras, and Guatemala. The topic for this year’s forum was “Rule of Law & Operational Efficiency: Necessary Legal Innovations to Combat Illegal Transnational Armed Organizations.” Presentations were given from various delegations, including BG Susan Escallier. This is the first time the Forum has been hosted in the United States.

Continuing to Bridge the Divide in National Security Law

On 27 and 28 September 2018, over fifty individuals from the Services, federal and state government offices, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and more than ten U.S. and international law schools, gathered at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS) to discuss various national security law-related issues at the 9th National Security Law Workshop. The first National Security Law Workshop occurred in 2008 when Professor Bobby Chesney—at the time a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law, and currently the Charles I. Francis Professor in Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas School of Law—and Professor Geoff Corn, Presidential Research Professor at the South Texas College of Law, recognized the need for a forum that would bridge the divide between national security law academics and military and government national security law practitioners. The first workshop was held at Wake Forest University School of Law in coordination with TJAGLCS. This first workshop, in which ten law professors and ten JAG Corps officers participated, lasted a day and a half. It included eleven paper presentations and four hours of judge advocate-led law of armed conflict instruction. Subsequent workshops were held at the University of Texas, South Texas College of Law, and TJAGLCS, and transitioned to a format of presentation and discussion of papers on various national security law issues with the last workshop being held in 2015 at the South Texas College of Law.

(Photo provided by Strategic Initiatives Office)

After a hiatus of three years, the workshop next took place in 2018, consisting of a series of panels discussing today’s most challenging national security law issues. These panels, which were moderated by academics, included a diverse mix of judge advocates and government and NGO attorneys. Topics of discussion included the domestic and international legal bases for the use of force in operations and use of force in a transnational armed conflict; countering cyber and information warfare; law of the sea issues in the Arctic and South China Sea; the next frontier in space warfare, artificial intelligence, and the future of unmanned vehicles; and the use of economic tools to address national security threats. Additionally, TJAGLCS’s Commanding General, Brigadier General R. Patrick Huston, gave opening remarks as well as a keynote address on Future War and Future Law.

The workshop was a huge success, particularly because there was nearly equal participation from military and government practitioners and academia. In addition to Professors Chesney and Corn, organizers included Mark Nevitt, Sharswood Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and CAPT Todd Huntley, Professor in the National Security Law Department at TJAGLCS. Co-hosts and participants agreed that the workshop should continue annually at TJAGLCS in order to allow for maximum participation by both academics and military practitioners.

(Credit: Jason Wilkerson, TJAGLCS)

Visiting Professor Examines Free Speech in a Digital World

On Friday, 21 September 2018, Dr. Colette Langos, a visiting professor at TJAGLCS from the University of Adelaide Law School in Australia, gave a plenary presentation to the American Bar Association in Chicago, along with her co-presenter, Wanda Cassidy, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Their presentation was entitled “Freedom of Speech in a Digital World: What are the Challenges, Education Opportunities, and the Role of Government?” Themes discussed included research into harmful online behaviors, justifications for encroaching upon the right to free speech, and the important role that law-related education can and should play in addressing how young people interact in our digital world.