In a short memorandum dated October 18, 2013, Secretary Hagel ordered a “comprehensive review of the UCMJ.” The complete text of the memo (copy available here), follows:

SUBJECT: Comprehensive Review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice

As proposed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the other members of the Joint Chiefs, I direct the General Counsel to conduct a comprehensive review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the military justice system with support from military justice experts provided by the Services.

Such a comprehensive review is appropriate given the many amendments to the UCMJ since the Military Justice Act of 1983 and to the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) since 1984. The review should include an analysis of not only the UCMJ, but also its implementation through the MCM and Service regulations. The review should consider any report and recommendations issued by the Response Systems Panel. I direct that a report including a recommendation for any appropriate amendments to the UCMJ be submitted within 12 months and that a second report recommending any appropriate amendments to the MCM be submitted within 18 months. The General Counsel will submit an Issue Nomination to the Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, describing the additional resources necessary for this review.

It’s perhaps just an interesting coincidence that the date of this memo is just one day before the four-year anniversary of the October 19, 2009, release of the Report of the Commission on Military Justice (the “Cox Commission II” report) (report available here), which took the #6 spot on our Top 10 Military Justice Stories of 2009.

The first “Cox Commission” report, also known as the Report of the Commission on the 50th Anniversary of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (2001), is available here.

Other notable reviews on the UCMJ include the oft-cited 1960 Report to Honorable Wilber M. Brucker, Secretary of the Army, by the Committee on the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Good Order and Discipline in the Army (the “Powell Report”) (available here), and the less-cited 1971 Report to General Westmoreland by the Committee for Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Administration of Military Justice (available here).

3 Responses to “SECDEF orders comprehensive review of the UCMJ”

  1. Contract Lawyers says:

    I wonder if the taskings for the previous reports were directed at the General Counsel or the TJAGs?  Or perhaps there is no DOD TJAG, the default is for SECDEF to direct the DOD GC?  Perhaps they ought to make the legal adviser to CJCS the Judge Advocate General of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and make the position a four star billet with the mission to win the war on SHARP.  Also, we will need spiffy new MCMs.  Or better yet, as punishment for not doing a good job with the current MCM, make us cut the binding off our current MCM, punch holes in the margins, and update the new manual through errata sheets. 

  2. Christian Deichert says:

    A return to the 3-ring binder MCM, a la the ’84 edition? Well, it would save on printing cost.  (Until the pages fell out.)

  3. Ama Goste says:

    K Lawyer, the Cox Commissions (I and II) were independent undertakings by the National Institute of Military Justice, not DoD itself.