By Lt. Kyle Elliott
Navy Reserve JAG officers met in Dallas, Texas at the 2018 Military Law Training Symposium for the West Coast April 7-8, 2018. Rear Adm. John G. Hannink, Deputy Judge Advocate General, and Rear Adm. Carol M. Lynch, Deputy Judge Advocate (Reserve Affairs and Operations), addressed more than 115 judge advocates assigned to Reserve units.
The annual symposium focused on Navy Reserve JAG Corps’ readiness and capabilities in support of the U.S. Navy; Commander, Navy Reserve Forces, Ready to Win initiative; the Military Justice Act of 2016; updates in command services; and developing issues in operational law. Lynch highlighted the importance of strengthening the warfighter every day while stressing the importance of initiative and innovation in maintaining an effective Reserve force.
Hannink extended his gratitude to the Navy Reserve JAG Corps, citing examples of how the Reserve had been instrumental in supporting the active duty component. He recognized the unique skill set present in the Reserve community noting that a Reserve member with considerable admiralty expertise was recalled to active duty to assist in the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald collision investigations.
During the symposium, Lynch announced the winners of the 2018 Rear Admiral Hugh H. Howell, Jr. Award of Excellence, recognizing both individual and unit accomplishments, named in honor of the first Navy judge advocate reservist to attain flag rank and the first Director, Navy Reserve Law Program. Lynch presented individual awards to Cmdr. Kevin Gerrity, of Navy Reserve Trial Judiciary Activity (senior officer), and Lt. Cmdr. Marcus Lawrence of Navy Reserve Pacific Fleet Legal (junior officer), for their outstanding efforts during the past year.
Capt. Michelle Pettit, Commanding Officer of Navy Reserve Trial Judiciary Activity, nominated Cdr. Gerrity, noting he went well beyond the call of duty in a complex, high-stress environment: “[his] job description was to advise the Commander of JTF-GTMO on all legal matters and to review actions to secure compliance with applicable ethical and fiscal guidelines, but in reality, he coordinated all the day-to-day activities of the largest deployed legal office in the Department of Defense (DoD).”
Capt. Matthew Muenchrath, Commanding Officer of Navy Reserve Pacific Fleet Legal, praised Lt. Cmdr. Lawrence’s operational law contribution for “leading the Fleet Judge Advocate exercise team in the combined US/AUS regional exercise, Pacific Sentry 17/Talisman Saber 17. He was personally involved in Flag Leadership briefing, Maritime Fires process, ROE working groups, COP/FOP development, and coordination with PACOM and Fleet SJA Teams.”
Lynch also recognized the winner of the best active duty supported command, Navy Reserve Region Legal Service Office Midwest based on their contribution of “over 1600 days (including ADSW/ADT/AT/IDTT and full drill days) of support to RLSO MW.” The supported command also noted that Reserve officers and enlisted served “in key trusted roles during the period of need including commanding officer, executive officer, leading petty officer, and staff judge advocates to key RLSO MW clients.”
Finally, Admiral Lynch congratulated the recipient of the best Reserve command, Navy Reserve Region Legal Service Office Southwest, led by Capt. Jeff Ames. Facing stiff competition, NR RLSO SW demonstrated seamless integration of new members while the command grew from 18 to 33 members. NR RLSO SW was noted for placing “an emphasis on utilizing its full complement of 14 enlisted Legalmen beyond the traditional legal assistance duties, routinely giving Legalmen opportunities to broaden their professional development by supporting command services and trial functions.” NR RLSO SW provided crucial support in a time of need while RLSO SW “suffered the tragic death of one of its new lawyers. [Reserve XO] CDR Molldrem provided superb leadership to [RLSO SW] during this tragedy and coordinated effectively with key leaders, including the RLSO COs and the DJAG. He also ensured that the command Casualty Assistance Calls Officer was properly resourced and supported to assist the family of the officer.”