ANNAPOLIS, Md. –
The Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps held a change of office ceremony Aug. 18, 2021, onboard U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
During the event – presided over by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday – Vice Adm. John G. Hannink was relieved by Vice Adm. Darse E. “Del” Crandall, Jr., who became the 45th Navy JAG.
“All the authority, the responsibility, and the accountability for the JAG Corps passes from Vice Adm. Hannink to Vice Adm. Crandall with a simple salute, but it is a huge responsibility. Our JAG enterprise is foundational to generating naval power,” said Gilday. “Judge advocates, thank you for your selfless dedication. What you do every day matters to our Navy and our nation.”
Also during the event, Rear Adm. Christopher C. French assumed the duties of the Navy’s Deputy JAG (DJAG). Rear Adm. (sel) David G. Wilson became the first-ever independent commander of Naval Legal Service Command (NLSC), who will report to the CNO.
Crandall previously served as DJAG and commander, NLSC (CNLSC) – before the dual roles were separated into two flag officers billets in 2021. As DJAG, he served as the deputy Department of Defense representative for Ocean Policy Affairs and provided direct support to the JAG and Navy senior leaders. As CNLSC, he led judge advocates, enlisted Legalmen, and civilian personnel assigned to 13 commands, providing legal support to personnel around the globe.
Crandall – who was promoted to the rank of vice admiral prior to the ceremony – will serve as JAG for approximately three years.
“While our challenges may be many, I know that together we will meet them head-on, and deliver the best legal solutions to the Navy, because we are laser-focused on the fleet and the warfighter,” said Crandall while addressing the virtual and in-person audience for the first time as JAG. “Our world has changed dramatically in the last 18 months … but our mission hasn’t changed.”
To Hannink, Crandall said: “You should be proud of all that the JAG community has accomplished, with you at the helm, to support CNO’s Mission One: The operational readiness of today’s Navy, and a Navy ready for tomorrow. We are a better community because of your steady and focused leadership, and I am a better officer because of your mentorship and guidance over the years.”
During Hannink’s tenure as JAG, Navy leaders relied on him for legal counsel on a range of issues affecting national security, as well as the welfare of the fleet, its warfighters, and their families. He helped oversee the Navy’s legal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and other adverse events, enhanced the JAG community’s international partnerships, strengthened legal training curricula, and implemented numerous reforms to increase the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.
“This new team of JAG Corps leaders is going to deliver the superb legal services that our community owes to the Navy,” said Hannink. “But they won’t do it alone …they will joined by all the judge advocates, all the Legalmen, and all the civilian professionals who work with us, diligently serving Sailors around the fleet.”
French – who was promoted to the rank of rear admiral (upper half) prior to the ceremony, as well – will serve as Crandall’s deputy. Most recently, he served as legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“As legal professionals, we play a critical role in supporting the mission and supporting the operator, and I am confident the JAG Corps will continue to do that,” said French. “In the days to come, we’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us, and we’re going to build on the work of all the people who came before us. We’re going to be up to the task.”
As CNLSC, Wilson told the CNO he intends to deliver results.
“I fully recognize the significance of this newly independent position and I intend to deliver, focusing on your priorities, and ensuring the operational readiness of the fleet and our Sailors,” Wilson said.
The first Navy JAG was Marine Colonel William Butler Remey, who assumed the post in 1878. The Navy JAG Corps was formally established nearly 90 years later, on Dec. 8, 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Since that time, the Navy JAG community has grown to include nearly 2,500 active-duty, Reserve component and civilian members.
For more information on the Navy JAG Corps, visit www.jag.navy.mil.