My recent non-military justice rant about U.S. law schools disgorging about 44,000 graduates a year elicited a couple of suggestions to consolidate the three military justice schools. One of these suggestions expressly proposed consolidating them at Charlottesville.
For many reasons that I won’t explore in depth now, I wouldn’t want to see the various military justice schools consolidated. My fear is that a “purple” school wouldn’t be purple at all, but rather would be Army Green. And while Army doctrine is fine for the Army, it isn’t for the sea services. (I’ll let others more knowledgeable about air power opine as to whether it’s appropriate for the Air Force.)
But that said, I must concede that if there were a substantial cost savings to be realized through such a consolidation, I would probably have to swallow my Armyphobia and endorse the idea. (Not that anyone cares about my endorsement, but I do enjoy working through these thought problems.) But would consolidating the military justice schools actually result in cost savings?
In the past, I’ve heard proposals to consolidate all of the military justice schools at a new facility to be built at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I would suspect that the cost of building such a new facility would far exceed any cost savings to be realized from consolidation for decades to come. And even if it could conceivably result in some net savings 30 years out, this seems like a bad time to be making a considerable up-front expenditure to realize savings decades in the future.
So the question is whether any of the current military justice schools have sufficient excess capacity to absorb the other two. And I suspect that the answer to that question is no. During my most recent visits to TJAGLCS — the only school that could conceivably accommodate the other two — office space seemed to be in short supply. In the annual military justice reports, perhaps I’m missing the stats for TJAGLCS and the Air Force JAG School, but I could find a breakdown for the number of basic lawyer students only in the Naval Justice School report. NJS graduated 135 students from its basic lawyer course in Fiscal Year 2007. Could TJAGLCS accommodate twice that number of additional basic lawyer students (assuming rough parity between the number of new sea service and Air Force judge advocates) in its current facility? If so, then perhaps substantial costs could be saved by consolidating the three schools at Charlottesville. (C’ville is a higher per diem area than Maxwell, but lower than Newport, so per diem considerations are likely to be a wash, at least assuming that TJALCS has sufficient billeting to accommodate all of the basic lawyer students rather than throwing them out on the local economy.) If not, then far from saving money, consolidation would probably result in substantial additional spending.
Does anyone have actual data or recent experience that would inform the answer to these questions?