By Lt. Adam Sitte, Region Legal Service Office Europe, Africa, SW Asia (EURAFSWA)
Region Legal Service Office Europe, Africa, SW Asia (EURAFSWA) sent two first tour judge advocates, Lt. j.g. John O. Wilson and Lt. j.g. Derek Kandt, on an exercise with U.S. Sixth Fleet in March 2018. During the two-week Juniper Cobra 2018 exercise, they supported Sixth Fleet Force Judge Advocates in providing legal advice to commanders and operators. Juniper Cobra is a joint exercise across the Army, Marine, Air Force and Navy components and Israel. The exercise strengthens American-Israeli military cooperation against regional threats and promotes long-term security.
Hosted by the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), U.S. Sixth Fleet’s flagship, Wilson and Kandt learned the basics of life at sea, how the Fleet supports the theater’s mission, and assisted in conducting exercises for stability in the Levant Region. During the exercise they briefed Flag leadership on Maritime Warning Zones, collaborated with Air Force components on Rules of Engagement, Maritime Interdictions and Law of the Sea. Cmdr. Gregory Saybolt, Cmdr. David Lee and Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Murray (FJAs Sixth Fleet) provided guidance throughout the exercise, with Lt. Cmdr. Alison Hoyt, JAG Corps, acted as an operational law resource.
“All of my past experiences had really only involved tactical level thinking,” says Kandt, a former Navy Master-at-Arms. “It was very interesting to understand what the considerations are on a strategic level, and how those decisions and desires are expressed to the warfighters.”
Despite the demands of the exercise, Wilson and Kandt also learned the basics of a sea deployment, including navigation, engineering, the wardroom, and ship life. Also, during a port visit in Israel, they were able to explore Haifa and Jerusalem’s Old City, including the Western Wall and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“Coming into the JAG Corps, I had ideas and heard stories of what it is like to be a lawyer at sea,” says Wilson. “Now, having lived that experience for two weeks, those ideas pale in comparison to reality.”