The Chairman's Legal Counsel, Brigadier General Robert Borcherding, hosted the Combatant Command Staff Judge Advocates for a series of briefs in the Pentagon designed to build relationships across the interagency and to share lessons learned on the issues facing the combatant commanders across the globe and across the warfighting domains.
“The eleven Combatant Command Staff Judge Advocates represent the premier warfighting lawyers in the Department today -- those who dedicated their professional lives to service in some of our most demanding assignments,” said Borcherding.
In this current cohort are five Navy Judge Advocates including CAPT Tom Leary (U.S. Central Command), CAPT Greg Bart (U.S. Special Operations Command), CAPT Jon McCleod (U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command), CAPT Megan Smith (U.S. Southern Command), and CAPT Dom Flatt (U.S. Indo-Pacific Command).
None of these positions is assigned to a particular service. Each officer is selected through a nominative process by the Combatant Commander to serve in their assigned role. Notably, the selection Greg Bart is the first instance of a Navy Judge Advocate assigned as the SJA to SOCOM, and Tom Leary is the second Navy JAG assigned to CENTCOM, and the first in the past 20 years.
After the event, CAPT Flatt observed, "we lead offices of lawyers and paralegals from the active and reserve components of the joint force. This group knows full well the tremendous value each service brings to the fight -- but you couldn't help notice that every other seat at this table was filled by a Sailor. And our colleagues from the other services, to a person, couldn't say enough about the performance of their assigned Navy JAGs -- many of them serving as the Ops Deputies. I think we all returned to our headquarters with a deep sense of pride in the Navy JAG Corps."
"The proportion of Navy JAGs serving as Combatant Command Staff Judge Advocates is not by accident" said RADM Christopher French, the Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy, "but is a testament to the warfighting ethos of our JAG Corps and the trust and confidence each of these individual officers have inspired in our senior military leaders."
The recently promulgated strategic framework for the Navy JAG Corps describes the mission as "to provide full-spectrum legal services to enable naval and joint operations in support of our national security." The framework envisions all members of the JAG Corps as warfighters serving as part of a global team of legal experts ready to meet today's challenges and those on the horizon tomorrow.
"It is easy to see that those serving at COCOMs are delivering now on the warfighting mission, but the mission is common to us all regardless of the nature of our work. All of our activity must be seen through the warfighting lens-- our work enables naval and joint operations in support of our national security," said French.