The President is reportedly considering leaving zero American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

If asked why they joined the military, many judge advocates answer “to deploy.” At least, many who joined during the past decade. Like me, for example.

What will we do… More trials, perhaps?

21 Responses to “Imagine there’s no war”

  1. Michael Lowrey says:

    Contract law!

  2. John Harwood says:

    Perhaps now OSI, CID and NCIS can get back to actually running criminal investigations rather than their attempts at CI.

  3. John S says:

    No more holding the upcoming deployment and production of downrange witnesses against my TC counterparts?  I think there will be an inevitable shift in negotiation position.  Not to mention the increase in (largely) pro-gov’t panel members available for court-martial duty.  Maybe it is time to switch back to a gov’t position…

  4. michael korte says:

    I joined to deploy.  But I’ll stay to make sure that something is done about the failure of some to wear proper reflective gear on post. 

  5. soonergrunt says:

    @michael korte, 10 Jan 2013 1239–
    If my last visit to Bagram AB was any indication, deployed counsel are probably getting a lot of that particular ‘problem’ too.

  6. Terminal Velocity says:

    Will we go back to the mid 90’s level court-martial numbers that accompanied the in-garrison force ?  This new generation of commanders has been so trained on expeditious lower forum/board waivers that I doubt it. 

  7. AF Capt says:

    Count me as one of those folks that joined with the hope of deploying.  While I’m glad, as a general rule, for conflicts to end, the lack of deployment opportunities will weigh heavily in favor of going civilian over extending my service commitment.

  8. EGNB says:

    The Navy used to do a pretty robust court-martial business before 9/11/2001, even out in the sleepy NW where I was.  Immediately afterward, when everyone started deploying, cases dropped off precipitously, in part because NCIS started focusing their efforts on CT rather than drug cases, which were the bulk of our business.  Also perhaps because everyone was too busy to commit crimes?
    I imagine that we’ll go back to that routine before long.  Miljus practitioners may just get a little more busy.

  9. Some Army Guy says:

    More trials.
    Because many of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have joined since 2001 also joined in hopes of (and are used to) deploying.
    I suspect that garrison life will be dull and a little misconduct might spice things up.

  10. Ex TC says:

    The idea that The case load will go up much iis laughable. The line community that would start this process has grown up in a military that did not heavily use the court-martial system.  They won’t turn to a slow , cumbersome, expensive and delayed filled system to solve their problems.  Misconduct will go up bc bored soldiers in garrison get in trouble and I see a small rise in cases.  But the line will turn more and more to admin solutions and we will never see 1990’s numbers again. 

  11. Ama Goste says:

    Another reason we won’t see 1990s numbers is because we have a much smaller military today than we did 20 years ago.  Of course, the sexual assault case numbers should rise, due to other factors.

  12. Jason Grover says:


    A great debate. I tend to agree with Ex TC, those with prosecutorial discretion are unlikely to willingly sign up for the associated delays and costs of discipline in the form of a court-martial – with the exception of sexual assault cases. But EGNB raises a great point. As a new defense counsel and, and then trial counsel before 9/11/2001, I saw NCIS actively running drug sting and undercover operations that resulted in dozens of cases in Great Lakes. One ecstasy ring resulted in easily a dozen courts-martial for distributors and over 35 NJPs and admin seps for users (one of those resulted in the Speedy Trial case, United States v. Cooper, 58 M.J. 54 (2003)). Those cases only happened after NCIS got involved following a few positive urinalyses. Some good questioning led to other suspects who had never popped. A few confessions later and cases start to take shape. There ended up being at least 5 or 6 agents (maybe more) involved in taking statements and running down leads. The basic scheme was a group of sailors would buy a jar of a 100 pills of ecstasy each pay day and keep some for personal use and sell the rest at raves. NCIS sent young-looking agents into raves and did wire-tapes. The full force of NCIS’s investigative powers was leveled at this criminal enterprise (I am being a bit tongue and cheek). But the reality is I would be surprised if NCIS was willing (or even had the general criminal agents available) to devote half a dozen agents to interrogate and investigate a drug ring based on a couple E-2s’ positive urinalysis. Isn’t it much more likely the command NJPs and adseps them and those dozen courts-martial never materialize? In my view, for court-martial numbers to go up, you would not only need commanders willing to accept the costs and delays, but changes with NCIS’s current focus and priorities. I don’t mean to suggest NCIS needs to change. I don’t know enough about their missions and priorities now to have an opinion. But until they have their agents going to raves again and willing to run over to commands to interrogate E-2s that popped, I don’t think the numbers are going up.

  13. AF Capt says:

    Don’t forget changing morays when it comes to drug use.  In the 1990’s we were still fresh off of the Reagan/Bush years and a very strong anti-drug push; it was a big deal that Clinton had used.  Today most drug use is shrugged off.  Cities and states have de jure or de facto legalized it under their own laws, the nation shrugged at news that Obama had used, and with the exception of meth and a handful of other drugs there is no big public service push against using.  This, as much as the down range experience, will likely push convening authorities towards NJP and admin actions rather than courts.  I would expect to see no kidding dealers of anything and meth and harder drugs prosecuted.  Spice and marijuana will by a 15 and a general discharge. 

  14. Jason Grover says:

    Great point, AF Capt. The days of single spec marijuana use cases are behind us for good I suspect. Those were great little cases with the drug lab experts and the fight was over whether the Accused would get 30 or 45 days confinement. Perfect cases for new counsel to learn how to do a trial. 

  15. Ex TC says:

    Why bother to do one spec drug pops when members adjuded mast level punishment after a trial that is delayed forever and cost too much for the government to bother, plus the issues with drug lab testimony.  We, military lawyers, work ourselves out of a job. Enough SJA’s tell the line to adsep and members see the E-2 go to NJP and then adsep’d, why would they bother to adjudged confinement.  Two days before trial another the guy in their division went to mast.  The days of low threat level OJT court-martials are long gone, never to return. They pop up here and there but rarely.  Too bad, this, to me, isn’t a NCIS/CID issue. It’s a culture shift in how lawyers have shaped the administration of justice.  Admittedly, NCIS/CID are often not focused on crime, but lots of their cases are immediately sprinted to the state DA and or US Atty office vice the local military prosecutor.  NCIS/CID/ the line community view the military justice system as weak, ineffective, slow and defense friendly(right or wrong).  And plenty of SJA’s are fine with their criminal cases turning into adsep’s when the state or feds take it.  We’ve all got SJA friends who are our worse mil jus enemies.

  16. AF Capt says:

    I can’t claim to have seen enough SJAs to form an opinion on how they handle cases, but is really the worst thing to take a single use or even single spec divers use marijuana spec to NJP and admin discharge?  My experience has been limited to one assignment, but it has been at one of the top 5 AF bases for justice, and from what I’ve seen these airmen are mostly first enlistment and separate with a general characterization.  They will have lost tens of thousands of dollars in GI Bill benefits, can’t change the characterization thanks to a prior enlistment, and are out of a job in toilet bowl job market.  Seems a pretty fair punishment for one toke.
    At the same time, give me a six year E-5 who does the same thing and I’ll say take it to a summary or a special.  Unlike a knucklehead 18 year old who, like their college bound peers, have smoked a blunt, this guy has been thoroughly inculturated to the military, given a leadership position, and is held to a higher standard.  I bet the wing leadership concurs, we get a conviction, and guy is reduced and given some confinement (though not the BCD).

  17. Some Army Guy says:

    AF Capt says:
    January 11, 2013 at 10:37 am
    Spice and marijuana will by a 15 and a general discharge. 
    This is already how drug cases are handled in the Army.

  18. Ama Goste says:

    AF Capt, considering the sentencing limitations of a SCM, it doesn’t make sense to take an E-5 to a summary court.
    SAG’s right about the Army.  The USAF has long taken drug cases to court that the other services would “chapter out.”  With the progeny of Washington v. Crawford making naked UAs much tougher to prosecute, in addition to the wartime posture, I think the USAF way of handling drug cases will more closely mirror the other services in the future.

  19. stewie says:

    We had an MP a couple of years ago who used spice in his squad car, while on duty, in uniform, and the MJ sentenced him to A15 type punishment. So concur there is no benefit to sending spice/marijuana cases to trial, and not sure there is one for even cocaine level drugs.
    Agree meth, heroin level drugs probably still merit it, and most non-“buddy” distros do.

  20. Joseph Wilkinson says:

    Stewie – Back when Spice was the “new hot topic” but still legal for civilians, I defended six single-spec spice cases in a row – and the MJ’s dished out SCM-level jail terms (2-4 weeks) with no BCD’s.  After that the command went back to Article 15 (or deals to SCM).     I’ve also seen some short jail terms for pure use – just looked up an old case where 2 specs of marijuana and 2 of ecstasy led to 45 days/no kick (actually, the judge said 45/BCD but we had a no-kick deal…but that judge was a stiff sentencer).   So I think it’s very judge-dependent and can be worthwhile for the government, especially if the command has a particular problem, as ours did when spice was legal but couldn’t be tested by UA, and is trying to get a message out.

  21. stewie says:

    it wasn’t the spice part that was annoying, it was the using while on duty, in uniform, as a military police officer that was annoying.