It happens every year—staff judge advocates (SJAs), regional defense counsel, and senior JAG Corps leaders across components gather at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School for a week of professional discourse and knowledge sharing.
This year, after a warm welcome from the Commander of The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, BG R. Patrick Huston, LTG Charles N. Pede challenged all of the participants to do three things during their five days in Charlottesville: think hard, recommit, and reconnect. An all-star cast of guest speakers joined JAG Corps leaders at the school to help the attendees meet the first part of the challenge: to think hard, particularly about the future of the Army and the future of the Corps. Few topics inspire bigger thoughts on the future than artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons, and Paul Scharre—a Senior Fellow at the Center for New American Security and author of An Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War—asked the attendees to consider the ethical and legal concerns created by autonomous weapons and artificial intelligence. Richard Kidd, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and the Environment, gave a presentation on “installations of the future” and challenged attendees to change their perspective on military installations as safe havens and areas that are removed from the fight. In multi-domain operations, Army installations constitute our strategic support area, and as such, they are not immune from evolving threats in today’s complex world. Changes to military installations are likely, and judge advocates will be on the front lines, anticipating legal and policy considerations as part of multi-discipline teams as we reshape our home towns.
In furtherance of thinking hard about the future, COL Ian Iverson, Strategic Initiatives Officer, and COL Bill Smoot, Chief, Criminal Law Department at OTJAG, presented a panel on the strategic initiatives process as it relates to the Military Justice Redesign Pilot Program (MJRPP). Four SJAs whose offices are participating in the pilot program, discussed how they instituted the program in their offices and provided insight on how the program is working. The conversation sparked lively discussion from the audience, inspiring attendees to consider the benefits and challenges of MJRPP implementation in their own jurisdictions. Other dynamic, future-oriented presentations included a discussion of the myriad legal issues related to implementing future Army weapons, as well as a thought-provoking presentation by the Deputy Commanding General of Army Futures Command, LTG Eric Wesley. The audience was also privileged to hear from the Undersecretary of the Army, the Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy, on the Future of our Army. Undersecretary McCarthy challenged the attendees to maintain a global, cross-functional focus in order to achieve the mission. The week’s capstone speaker, GEN Stephen Townsend, Commanding General, Training and Doctrine Command, challenged the audience even further. Using examples from his most recent deployment as the Commander, Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve, he engaged in a dialogue with the attendees about commanders’ compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and posed the question of whether commanders have an imperative to reply to media articles alleging that LOAC has been violated. In addition to focusing on the future, the WWCLE provided ample opportunity for attendees to recommit by focusing on the top priority of the Chief of Staff of the Army and TJAG—readiness. One component of such readiness is our physical training. First Sergeant Charlene Crisp—with help from Noncomissioned Officer Academy Soldiers, ALC students, and SLC students—set up a first-rate run-through of the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) for the WWCLE attendees on Tuesday morning. Attendees were given an opportunity to try each of the ACFT events while the NCOs provided constructive critique. Participants walked away with a greater appreciation of the challenges the ACFT’s implementation will present and with some ideas on how to prepare themselves and their teams for ACFT success.
Understanding the current fight is an integral part of readiness. LTG Joseph Anderson, the Army’s G-3, briefed the attendees on the National Defense Strategy and provided an Army Operations Update. Afterward, the audience heard from Army Service Component Command SJAs, National Guard SJAs, and Army Reserve SJAs. All of these presentations provided timely, thought-provoking information about the state of the Army and the Corps. In his presentation, TJAG shared with attendees that there is no better time than the present to recommit—recommit to the profession of soldiering and recommit to providing principled counsel. Toward that end, BG (Ret.) John Cooke—currently the Director of the Federal Judicial Center and formerly the Army’s representative on the committee entrusted to write the 1984 Uniform Code of Military Justice—talked about principled counsel in times of change. Few people can impart more insight regarding principled counsel in times of change than an individual who has served in such positions.With all of that thinking and recommitting, it was time for the attendees to reconnect with each other and with JAG Corps alumni. Lieutenant General Pede, with help from our Regimental Historian and Archivist, Mr. Fred Borch, and from Honorary Colonel of the Regiment COL (Ret.) Dick Gordon, officially named the Regimental Library for COL William Winthrop, the judge advocate who published the seminal work on military justice, Military Law and Precedents, in 1880. The library, which boasts JAG Corps artifacts, shelves chock full of books—from legal tomes to works on leadership and history—and a war crimes archive, is the most comprehensive legal library in the Department of Defense and a destination library for war crimes research.
On Tuesday evening, the WWCLE participants attended a formal reception. The event provided the attendees an opportunity to reconnect with each other, as well as to reconnect with JAG Corps alumni. Lieutenant General Pede had the honor of presenting the Distinguished Service Medal to COL James Pohl on the occasion of his retirement from his position as the Chief Trial Judge for the Military Commissions, after eight extensions on active duty. Lieutenant General Pede also recognized Mr. Aubrey Daniel—a former Army judge advocate and lead trial counsel in the prosecution of 1LT William Calley from the My Lai massacre—and MG Kenneth Gray—a former Deputy Judge Advocate General and the architect of the summer internship and minority recruiting programs—as Distinguished Members of the Regiment.Throughout the week, there were also roundtable discussions with the Reserve and National Guard regarding their focus on AC/RC Integration “Next.” The Regimental Historian and Archivist addressed the attendees, inspiring them to look to history in order to shape the future. Major General Stuart Risch closed the week by delivering an inspiring speech on the importance of individual moments in our lives and making those moments count. He spent time remembering the teammates we have lost over the past year, and he bid a fond farewell to those JAG Corps members who are transitioning to retirement. Major General Risch reminded the audience, as LTG Pede did at the beginning of the week, that in the end, what makes the Corps great is every member of the team working together to accomplish the mission. TAL
1. Cain Earns German Proficency Badge
CPT Cameron Cain, assigned to the Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, Georgia, represented the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate in competing for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge. He finished first in many of the events and earned a Silver Badge for his efforts. He is pictured with his parents, Jerry and Cindy, and the Fort Gordon Staff Judge Advocate, COL John McCabe.
2. JAG Team Captures Bronze
JAG Team brought home the Bronze for USARPAC, out of 24 teams representing combat veterans from 3 countries (an Australian team won).
3. Strum Honor Grad
On 28 June 2018, the Noncommissioned Officer’s Academy at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School graduated its Advanced Leader Course (ALC) 501-18. The Distinguished Honor Graduate was SGT Nathan Sturm.
4. The Future is in Austin
On 13 July 2018, the U.S. Army officially announced Austin, Texas as the location of its new Futures Command Headquarters. Members of the OSJA of Futures Command are currently housed in their temporary offices in Crystal City, Virginia.
5. 20th Coggins Anniversary
On 26 July 2018, the JAG Corps celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the SGT Eric L. Coggins Award. This award is given to the paralegal specialist who best exemplifies the attributes of competence, character, and commitment through exceptional leadership and technical service. This year’s winner is SGT DeJamine Bryson, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
6. An Oath Above
On 20 July 2018, SPC Crista Harvey, left, re-enlisted and took her Oath of Office while soaring over 3,000 feet above Fort Bragg in a Black Hawk Helicopter. Both SPC Harvey and MAJ George Lavine overcame their fear of heights for this out-standing occasion.
7. Marching for Proficiency
On 20 July 2018, SGT Logan White and CPT Christopher Hartnett were awarded the Kruis Voor Betoonde Marsvaardinheid (Cross for Marching Proficiency) for completing the 102nd Four Days Marches in Nijmegen, Netherlands. This grueling event requires participants to march over 160 kilometers (100 miles) with a minimum of 11 kilograms of weight in four days around Nijmegen, Netherlands. Five thousand eight hundred military members from twenty-eight nations participated in the marches alongside approximately 41,000 civilians. Sergeant White and CPT Hartnett are members of the Wiesbaden Legal Center attached to the U.S. Army Europe OSJA.
8. JAG Knowledge Management Course
The Judge Advocate Knowledge Management Course was held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia from 23–27 July 2018. Thirteen students participated in and graduated from the course. The student population consisted of one officer, eight warrant officers (active duty and reserve), one noncommissioned officer, and three Army Civilians. This course presents a collaborative environment to learn and understand the doctrine, techniques, and execution of the knowledge management process, all while designing solutions to issues facing the JAG Corps.
9. Omari Outstanding
On 26 July 2018, CPL Owen Omari, of the Task Force Spartan Administrative Law NCOIC, graduated from the Basic Leader Course on the Commandant’s List. He also received two coins for his outstanding performance.
10. Fort Gordon’s Legal Assistance Gets Distinguished
On 20 July 2018, the Commanding General and Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon presented Fort Gordon’s Legal Assistance Office with the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel’s 2017 Distinguished Service Award. Pictured here, from left to right, is MG John B. Morrison, Ms. Mary Rae Dudley, Ms. Demetria Ellison, and CSM Carlos M. Simmons.