We previously discussed the provision in the FY 2010 DOD Authorization Act that established a five-member “independent panel to review the judge advocate requirements of the Department of the Navy.”

A friend o’ CAAFlog called out attention to this announcement from last Thursday’s Federal Register providing notice that DOD has established the panel’s charter.  Here are the areas that the panel is required to study:

i. The emergent operational law requirements of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps, including requirements for judge advocates on joint task forces, in support of rule of law objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in operational units;

ii. New requirements to support the Office of Military Commissions and to support the disability evaluation system for members of the U.S. Armed Forces;

iii. The judge advocate requirements of the Department of the Navy for the military justice mission, including assignment policies, training and education, increasing complexity of court-martial litigation, and the performance of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps in providing legally sufficient post-trial processing of cases in general courts-martial and special courts-martial.

iv. The role of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, as the senior uniformed legal officer of the Department of the Navy, to determine whether additional authority for the Judge Advocate General over manpower policies and assignments of judge advocates in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps is warranted;

v. Directives issued by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps pertaining to jointly-shared missions requiring legal support;

vi. Career patterns for U.S. Marine Corps judge advocates in order to identify and validate assignments to non-legal billets required for professional development and promotion[.]

16 Responses to “DOD gives notice it’s establishing charter for Independent Panel Review of Judge Advocate Requirements of the Department of the Navy”

  1. Too Scared to Identify Myself says:

    Disclosure: I’m a Marine lawyer.
    The concept behind this panel pisses me off as it seems like this is a power grab by the Navy JAG, through a whisper campaign with Congress to solve the Lost Battalion problem that no longer exists, in an real effort by the JAG or some Navy Captains to assert control over the Marine JA community. Maybe I bought in to the recruiting campaign too much, but I want to be a Marine officer who happens to be a judge advocate, not a naval lawyer who sometimes works with Marines. I admit that we, like everyone else, are not without warts (one example – our DCs should report to the RDC not the Director of the Law Center/SJA, another example – let’s decide who owns ethics, CL or the SJA (my vote is CL)) but making ours a naval judge advocate corps isn’t the right solution. Call me old school, but Marine commanders like getting advice from Marine SJAs and Marine clients like getting advice from Marine defense counsel. Certainly we can be tweaked to avoid embarrasing things like the case where the DC worked for the TC by making the DCs really work for the RDC, but, ask our commanders in Afghanistan or those who served in Iraq, whole scale change is not needed and the Navy JAG should not be involved in deciding whether 1/1 needs a battalion JA or not.

  2. Anonymous says:

    No, it’s the opposite. This is a Marine rebellion in the Navy.

    For example:

    “requirements for judge advocates on joint task forces, in support of rule of law objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in operational units” means the Battalion Judge Advocate is here to stay (sorry Colonels, looks like you lost this one).

    “increasing complexity of court-martial litigation” means that Congress realizes that these are real federal trials that need real federal lawyers (this is actually bad news for most Marine JAs).

    “determine whether additional authority for the Judge Advocate General over manpower policies and assignments of judge advocates in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps is warranted” means maybe the boys in blue shouldn’t rule over the boys in green (next stop: Department of the Navy and Marine Corps).

    “identify and validate assignments to non-legal billets required for professional development and promotion” means fewer JAs at IGMC and on the drill field (about time).

    There was once a time when Navy politicos tried to crush the Corps. How times have changed.

  3. Dwight Sullivan says:

    Anon 2259: You’re going to have to explain part of your post to me very slowly using only small words. You write: “‘determine whether additional authority for the Judge Advocate General over manpower policies and assignments of judge advocates in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps is warranted’ means maybe the boys in blue shouldn’t rule over the boys in green.”

    How can increasing the Judge Advocate General of the Navy’s authority over USMC judge advocate manpower policies and assignments mean that the Navy shouldn’t (to use your phrase) “rule over the boys in green”? It looks to me like Congress pulled a ratchet out of its toolbox and the only way the ratchet can turn is toward more Navy control over Marine judge advocates. What am I missing? Or were you being arch and I’m being too literal?

  4. Anon says:

    Since it is published in the Federal Register that means the panel members have been selected. Any ideas on who they are? And if panel members have been selected, then certain timelines are now in play – off to the races!

  5. Anon says:

    Is it possible that this panel will focus on tasker iii and bring some sanity to a process that has four attorneys (two TC and two DC…or more) chasing every court-martial?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anon 0822,

    800+ Navy JAGs, 94 contested GCMs. What do you think?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, my bad. 94 GCMs total.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Was told that former Navy JAG RADM Guter and DoNGC Mora were invited but declined, but that they were replaced by RADM McPherson and DoDGC Judith Miller. SECNAV signed the list recently.

  9. Anon says:

    94 is total Navy GCMs in 2009 – I doubt they were all contested.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How did SecNav sign the list when SecDef has to appoint the members?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Lots of comments on this thread and the one from last fall. I highly recommend that they be made formally:

    “Pursuant to 41 CFR 102–3.105(j) and
    102–3.140, the public or interested
    organizations may submit written
    statements to the Independent Panel
    Review of Judge Advocate Requirements
    of the Department of the Navy
    membership about the Panel’s mission
    and functions. Written statements may
    be submitted at any time or in response
    to the stated agenda of planned meeting
    of the Independent Panel Review of
    Judge Advocate Requirements of the
    Department of the Navy.”

    I’ll be making my opinion known, and I think you should too. The Marine Corps needs JA’s; it needs line officers in that community.

    Manpower and staffing requirements are vastly different for Marine and Navy JA’s, and practice in those separate services seems to me a reflection of that. The record on which SECNAV makes those staffing decisions should be properly amplified and informed by the comments of those who are currently filling the billets that this panel will determine are/are not necessary.

    The hidden threat in paragraph vi is the “validation” piece as it relates to promotion. The promotion competitiveness is based at least in part on competitive category which, in the Corps, is all unrestricted officers. If those “B-billets” (and the corresponding need for the depth of experience that those who fill those billets bring back to the JA community) are not validated as necessary for promotion among JA’s, it seems to me that the independence of JAD from OJAG is short-lived at best, and Marine JA’s will eventually be assimilated into a staff corps. On arrival, we will die slow and agonizing deaths in the shadow of the faded promise of “every Marine a Rifleman”.

  12. Anon says:

    Too Scared, The genesis was, in fact, the “Lost Battalion”, also known as Marine JA support to the Appellate Review Activity. The scenario painted for the SASC staff was that Marine JA support of appellate work was woefully understaffed given the number of Marine Courts. Over the years a trend developed of lack of speedy review, backed-up case load, and the raised middle finger from the senior Marine JA (SJA to the Commandant) when Navy JAG asked for bodies. (In know, you are fighting a war.) Well, here is the Senate’s response….

  13. Anonymous says:

    Much nashing of teeth over nothing. The boys running JAD now have the capacity to be ruthless if necessary. Not to worry.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Anon 2259:You’re going to have to explain part of your post to me very slowly using only small words.You write:“‘determine whether additional authority for the Judge Advocate General over manpower policies and assignments of judge advocates in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps is warranted’ means maybe the boys in blue shouldn’t rule over the boys in green.”How can increasing the Judge Advocate General of the Navy’s authority over USMC judge advocate manpower policies and assignments mean that the Navy shouldn’t (to use your phrase) “rule over the boys in green”?It looks to me like Congress pulled a ratchet out of its toolbox and the only way the ratchet can turn is toward more Navy control over Marine judge advocates.What am I missing?Or were you being arch and I’m being too literal?

    If additional authority was necessary, Congress wouldn’t have to talk about it – they’d just give it (or turn a blind eye as the Navy took it). The only reason to talk is to decide additional authority isn’t necessary, and then perhaps to give the Marine SJA some additional general officer support.

  15. Anon says:

    The “boys running JAD” are mere amateurs compared to the USMC Lobby in Congress. Any recommendations this panel may make regarding the USMC will be an interesting read. Any recommendations this panel may make regarding the Navy JAG Corps could have very real impacts.

  16. Anonymous says:

    My bad. SECDEF signed the memo.