By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs
This summer, during PANAMAX 2018 — an annual multinational exercise focused on securing and defending the Panama Canal — several members of the JAG community provided exceptional legal support. In particular, Legalman 1st Class Ashley Alsberry, who currently is assigned to Region Legal Service Office Southeast’s branch office in Fort Worth, was recognized for her outstanding work during this critical evolution.
Alsberry worked in the staff judge advocate office led by Colonel Javier Rivera, where she was responsible for providing legal support for the commanding general of U.S. Army South, Major General Mark R. Stammer. As an operational law paralegal, Alsberry closely assisted a team of seven judge advocated from the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy, as well as from the militaries of Colombia and Peru.
“I am grateful to have been able to be part of the exercise and learn firsthand how a Legalman would be incorporated and utilized in a joint operational environment,” said Alsberry. “It was great to be able to see all branches of the armed forces as well as partner nations come together and learn from each other’s experiences and then focus that on mission accomplishment.”
“I really just tried to be a sponge and soak up as much information about international law, the Law of Armed Conflict, and each individual judge advocate’s real-life operational law experiences,” she added.
Alsberry excelled under stressful circumstances by staying flexible and anticipating the needs of her teammates. She developed key communication tools to keep the office on task; assisted in analyzing static, dynamic and time-sensitive packages; and performed extensive research to ensure the legal office’s advice was timely and accurate.
For her superb work, Alsberry was awarded the Army Achievement Medal. Her citation read, in part: “[Her] technical competence, professionalism and expertise contributed immeasurably to the success of this exercise and served to strengthen the professional bonds between the United States and its partner nations.”
“I felt honored to be recognized by the Army but the biggest reward for me was to be able to work with judge advocates from the Army, Air Force and Navy, and make their lives easier so they could provide the best legal support to the commanding general,” Alsberry said.
PANAMAX began in 2003 with three countries — Chile, Panama and the United States — and originally focused solely on the maritime security of the Panama Canal. Since that time, the exercise has grown to become the region’s largest coalition Command Post Exercise, ensuring the defense of the Panama Canal, which is one of the most strategically and economically crucial pieces of infrastructure in the world.