The conference committee’s version of the FY 2010 DOD Authorization Act includes a provision (Section 506) establishing a five-member “independent panel to review the judge advocate requirements of the Department of the Navy.”  The panel “shall carry out a study of the policies and management and organizational practices of the Navy and Marine Corps with respect to the responsibilities, assignment, and career development of judge advocates for purposes of determining the number of judge advocates required to fulfill the legal mission of the Department of the Navy.”  Among other specific directives, the bill tells the panel to “review career patterns for Marine Corps judge advocates in order to identify and validate assignments to nonlegal billets required for professional development and promotion.”

16 Responses to “DOD Authorization Act calls for review of DON’s judge advocate requirements”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why do Marine judge advocates need assignment to non-legal billets for professional development and promotion? Isn’t it bad enough that their lawyers have to waste 6 months of their professional life attending the Basic School – but then they are forced to endure an assignment in a recruiting billet for 3 years. Let the lawyers be lawyers. If you have so many lawyers that you can afford to send them to non-lawyer billets, then cut the numbers.

  2. JWS says:

    Do ya think maybe it’s because the Marine JA’s are like, maybe, Marines?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good point JWS. While we’re at it, let’s start sending Marine lawyers to aviation and medical billets too. You think all Marines are fungible; Congress disagrees. It’s about allocating resources most effectively, not vanity.

  4. anonymous says:

    There are an awful lot of Navy judge advocates who are in non-legal billets as well: detailers, Code 61, code 63, code “transfarmation,” ect. Moreover, most SJAs throughout the fleet spend less than 50% of their time practicing law. The Judge Advocate General conducted a survey some years ago and the results were devistating.

  5. John Harwood says:

    This is why the AF JAG so jealously guards its JAGs. Trying to get a non-JAG assignment in some other area, like as a Foreign Area Officer, Executive Officer, etc., is like pulling teeth.

  6. Anon1 says:

    I actually thought TBS was a great learning experience and I feel as though the tools I picked up there have helped me on more than one occassion in interacting with commanders on a professional/legal level.

  7. Paul says:

    15 years after TBS how much will that land nav course help you interacting with the commander? More importantly, how will it help you try a case, write a brief or issue and ethics opinion?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I believe that a JA’s experience outside the legal community develop them into well rounded litigators. Who are better prepared to deal with both clients and commanders because of shared experiences. This experience often times this experience leads to the resolution of in a fair and reasonable manner.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yes, but their writing ability goes to hell. See Anon 12:19.

  10. Paul says:

    Anon 12:19 that’s like saying to understand your client as a DC you have to be a criminal. I can represent one without being one. I can represent a CA without being one. Because we both went to 6 months of the same experience means nothing. How many JAs are combat company commanders?

  11. Bridget says:

    In discussing with NG pals the new soldiering requirements put in place for Army JA, it seems they found all that soldier training pretty useful in Iraq. My former division SJA pointed out how all that training can be useful when you are out on convoy. Apparently a fair number of judge advocates have spent time in dangerous places. As USN and AF JA are getting used as IA, not a bad thing to get that training, even land nav.

    As far as admin in the respective corps, maybe the JAG shops need a legal version of medical service corps officer.

  12. Anonymous says:

    well isn’t that what pre-deployment training is for?

    Everyone isn’t gonig to Iraq and Afghanistan. The BOLC training seems somewhat silly PARTICULARLY when folks who have ROTC or even prior service Basic Training aren’t exempted from it. Those folks get nothing out of it. Thankfully I was through OBC before BOLC came around.

    I understand the whole Soldier-Lawyer thing. We are in the military after all so kind of important to have at least some Soldier skills. But it can be over-emphasized, and done so at the expense of the core competencies.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I can’t speak for the Army or USMC, but most Navy deployers are familiar with the now infamous JAG LT who jammed his cell phone (vice a magazine) into his M9 when the convoy got hit. We’re dead weight on any convoy. The two weeks spent at Ft. Jackson do nothing to change that. And it doesn’t allow us to boast that we can now see the world through a commander’s/grunt’s eyes. Core competencies is exactly right; ours is law.

  14. Anon1 says:

    Paul, when I was at TBS and we were doing the Close Air Support portion of the syllabus, the Cobra pilot that was teaching us the 9 line had the class guess the MOS of the Marines that requested his CAS the most in Iraq. Everyone shouted out combat arms MOSs but the right answer was logistics officers. Next, he surprisingly said that judge advocates called him for CAS like 5 times. During our call for fire live fire I got to call in the mmixed section of skids. Very cool and informative experience and not something I’ll probably get to do at predeployment training.

    You additionally questioned if I thought landnav would help me as a JA. Well yes, yes I do. If I’m rolling around in a convoy I would like to be able to use terrain association to plot 8 digit grids on my map so that if shit hits the fan I can call in a casevac 9 line. Will there be other people there that are more qualifieed than me to do that? Yes. But do I want to be the guy that botches something up when I’m called on? No.

  15. Anon2 says:

    Anon 6:45 forgets we are officers first, lawyers second. If we follow his logic, why don’t we just civilianize the whole practice of law in the military? Ask most Marine commanders if they would rather have a Marine JA or a staff corps officer, and he/she is going to go with a Marine JA who shares the same training, ethos, and experience. It would be a shame if Congress takes the Marine out of Marine Judge Advocate – it’s the best part of the job.

  16. JWS says:

    Is this thread still open?

    I am amazed at the guys who want to be Marine JAGs but don’t want to be Marines. I am not really interested in how the AF, Nav, & Army do things — they are bigger & much more specialized.

    In the RVN I served under a company commander that had been a JAG until casualties made him more useful commanding a rifle company. Pretty good CO, too.

    Having real experience and knowledge of the fighting side is very important. A prosecutor making a decision about charging who hasn’t a clue about close combat (Fallujah) is a threat to the Corps & the country. I spent 20 years representing fire districts; I was also a firefighter at the time. It made a big difference.

    This is my Marine Corps. ALL Marines are grunts, a concept that paid off repeatedly in my experience. As for that Navy LT who used his cell phone for a magazine — they gave this guy a commission? In fairness, first exposure to combat causes all kinds of irrational behavior & this is no different.

    More than ever before, war is being fought in a fluid battle zone without clear battle lines. Just because your some rear area pogue doesn’t mean you won’t be needing to defend your self & your buddys.