UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Chapter 2

Organization to Support Army Operations




Office of The Judge Advocate General

Field Operating Agencies

The U.S. Army Legal Services Agency

The Judge Advocate General's School

Army National Guard Legal Organizations

U.S. Army Reserve Legal Organizations

Staff Judge Advocate Offices

Command Judge Advocates


The Office of the Legal Counsel to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Unified, Specified, and Subord. Unified Command SJAs

Joint Task Force SJA



Overview of Operational Law Support

Tailoring Operational Law Support



2.1.1    Office of The Judge Advocate General

        The Office of the Judge Advocate General (OTJAG) is an element of the Army Staff. The organization is depicted in Figure 2-1. OTJAG provides legal services to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, members of the Army Staff, agencies of the Army, and members of the Army generally. Two Field Operating Agencies also support The Judge Advocate General in providing legal services to the Army: U.S. Army Legal Services Agency (USALSA), which includes the U.S. Army Claims Service (USARCS), and The Judge Advocate General's School, U.S. Army (TJAGSA).

    The Judge Advocate General (TJAG) is responsible for all Army legal services, heads the Judge Advocate Legal Service, and performs, among others, the following legal functions:36


  • Legal Advisor to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, and Military Legal Advisor to the Secretary of the Army in coordination with the General Counsel.

  • Authority for establishment of the Army Trial Judiciary and U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, and performance of judicial responsibilities prescribed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

  • Principal legal advisor to the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, concerning military justice matters, and supervisor of the administration of military justice in the Army.

  • Principal legal advisor to the Army Staff concerning the organization, powers, duties, functions, and administrative procedures of the Army.

  • Primary legal advisor to the Army Staff concerning operational matters, international law issues arising from deploying and stationing of U.S. forces overseas, and implementation of the DoD Law of War Program.

  • Supervisor of the Army Claims program, and Secretary of the Army designee for settling claims against the U.S. under various, specific claims statutes.

  • Supervisor of the Army Legal Assistance Program.

  • Principal legal advisor to the Army Staff concerning acquisitions, procurements, logistics, security assistance, and fiscal law matters.

  • Overseer of the Army Standards of Conduct Program.

  • Technical supervisor for the Judge Advocate Legal Service; responsible for recruitment, career management, assignment, professional responsibility, and direction in the performance of their duties of all members of the Judge Advocate Legal Service.


Figure 2-1


    The Assistant Judge Advocate General (TAJAG) supervises the organization, administration, and functioning of OTJAG; the Field Operating Agencies of OTJAG; the procurement and professional training of members of the Judge Advocate Legal Service; the proficiency of reserve component judge advocates; and the operations of the judge advocate Guard and Reserve Affairs Department, Regulatory Law and Intellectual Property Division, Legal Technology Resources Office, and Standards of Conduct Office.37

    The Assistant Judge Advocate General for Civil Law and Litigation (AJAG/CLL) supervises or oversees Contract Law Division, Litigation Division, Procurement Fraud Division, Contract Appeals Division, Environmental Law Division, Defense Appellate Division, and Trial Defense Service.38

    The Assistant Judge Advocate General for Military Law and Operations (AJAG/MLO) supervises or oversees Criminal Law Division, Administrative Law Division, International and Operational Law Division and the Center for Law and Military Operations (CLAMO), Legal Assistance and Policy Division, Labor and Employment Law Division, and Government Appellate Division.39

    The Army National Guard Special Assistant to TJAG is the principal advisor to TJAG concerning all matters affecting judge advocates in the Army National Guard.

    The Assistant Judge Advocate General for Operations is an Individual Mobilization Augmentee, and the principal advisor to TJAG concerning all matters affecting judge advocates in the U.S. Army Reserve.

2.1.2    Field Operating Agencies

    Certain enduring and specialized legal missions demand significant synergy or independence from the SJA sections that support various echelons of command. The Judge Advocate General's Field Operating Agencies (FOAs) are organizations designed to meet this institutional need.

2.1.3    The U.S. Army Legal Services Agency

    The primary mission of USALSA is to deliver legal services to the Department of the Army in coordination with OTJAG; support and deliver legal services to field activities; and consolidate delivery of legal services by military judges and defense counsel to guarantee their independence. The organization is depicted in Figure 2-2.


Figure 2-2

    The Commander, USALSA, commands the organization, and as Chief, United States Army Judiciary, directly supervises the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the United States Army Trial Judiciary, the Military Magistrate Program, and Examinations and New Trials Branch. USALSA includes:

  • The United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA). (The Commander, USALSA serves as the ACCA's Chief Judge. There is also an Individual Mobilization Augmentee Chief Judge.) The ACCA performs appellate review of courts-martial pursuant to Article 66, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), when the approved sentence includes death, a punitive discharge, or confinement for one year or more, and considers certain petitions for new trials pursuant to Article 73, UCMJ.

  • The United States Army Trial Judiciary, an element of the United States Army Judiciary, providing full-time military trial judges to preside over general and special courts-martial. The Chief Trial Judge supervises Military Judges and provides judicial support throughout the Army.

  • The military magistrate program.

  • Examinations and New Trials Branch, which examines all general courts-martial not reviewed by ACCA, processes petitions for new trials and extraordinary relief, and examines cases involving military commissions and courts of inquiry.

  • The Litigating Divisions, which provide legal advice and litigation services in contract law, procurement fraud, environmental law, regulatory law, intellectual property law, civilian and military personnel law, torts, and other areas of law. AJAG/CLL exercises operational control over the Litigating Divisions.

  • The United States Army Trial Defense Service (TDS), which provides defense legal services for Army personnel as authorized by law and regulation.

  • Defense Appellate Division (DAD), which provides defense legal services to military accused before the ACCA, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), and the United States Supreme Court.

  • Government Appellate Division (GAD), which represents the United States before the ACCA, the CAAF, and, when requested by the United States Attorney General, the United States Supreme Court.

    The United States Army Claims Service (USARCS) administers the Army's claims program, supervising the investigation, processing, and settlement of claims against and on behalf of the United States. It also establishes claims policy and supervises claims training.

    To maintain the independence of defense legal services, The AJAG/CLL exercises technical supervision and operational control over DAD and TDS. The AJAG/MLO exercises technical supervision and operational control over GAD.

2.1.4    The Judge Advocate General's School, U.S. Army

    TJAGSA offers resident and nonresident courses of study for the professional legal training of the Army. TJAGSA conducts and publishes research in all legal disciplines. TJAGSA conducts combat development, manages the Army Law Library Service (ALLS), and produces all instructional material to train and maintain the 71D Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) for both the active and reserve forces.

    TJAGSA also provides technical support for deployed judge advocates. Its academic departments-Administrative and Civil Law, Legal Research and Communications, Criminal Law, Contract and Fiscal Law, and International and Operational Law Departments-have subject matter experts in all the core legal disciplines. Deployed judge advocates reach back for legal expertise from these experts.

    The Center for Law and Military Operations (CLAMO), a resource organization for operational lawyers, is also located at TJAGSA. The mission of CLAMO is to examine legal issues that arise during all phases of military operations and to devise training and resource strategies for addressing those issues. It seeks to fulfill this mission in five ways.

  • First, it is the central repository within The Judge Advocate General's Corps for all-source data/information, memoranda, after-action materials and lessons learned pertaining to legal support to operations, foreign and domestic.

  • Second, it supports judge advocates by analyzing all data and information, developing lessons learned across all military legal disciplines, and by disseminating these lessons learned and other operational information to the Army, Marine Corps, and Joint communities through publications, instruction, training, and databases accessible to operational forces, world-wide.

  • Third, it supports judge advocates in the field by responding to requests for assistance, by engaging in a continuous exchange of information with the Combat Training Centers and their judge advocate observer-controllers/trainers, and by creating operational law training guides.

  • Fourth, it integrates lessons learned from operations and the Combat Training Centers into emerging doctrine and into the curricula of all relevant courses, workshops, orientations, and seminars conducted at TJAGSA.

  • Fifth, in conjunction with TJAGSA, it sponsors conferences and symposia on topics of interest to operational lawyers.

2.1.5    Army National Guard Legal Organizations

    Legal support is embedded in National Guard organizations, including the National Guard Bureau, State Area Commands (STARC), and subordinate guard units. Normally, each state commands and controls its Army National Guard units. When these units are called into federal status and while in CONUS, FORSCOM subordinate units will normally command and control them; the FORSCOM and FORSCOM subordinate command SJAs will normally exercise technical supervision of these federalized judge advocates. When Army National Guard units are assigned, attached, or OPCON to other commands, the SJA of the gaining command will exercise technical supervision over all the assigned, attached, or OPCON judge advocates.

    The National Guard Bureau, while not in the chain of command, formulates and administers programs to ensure the development and maintenance of Army National Guard units. Each state selects, appoints, and assigns its officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted personnel. Notwithstanding, TJAG authorizes state appointments to the JAGC, and ensures that judge advocates in the Army National Guard are subject to the same training, educational standards, and supervision as other members of the JAGC.

    Each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands appoints an Adjutant General as the senior military commander of its STARC, which consists of its Air and Army National Guard units. The State Judge Advocate is the senior judge advocate serving with the state. Army National Guard units are structured like Regular Army units. The major Army National Guard units are divisions, brigades, and regiments. The mission of the office of the Staff Judge Advocate section in Army National Guard units is the same as that of an SJA section in a similar size regular Army unit. Army National Guard enhanced brigades are the principal reserve component ground combat maneuver forces of the United States Army. The SJA section of an enhanced brigade is modeled on, and has the mission of, the SJA section of a separate brigade in the active component.

    Members of the JAGC in the Army National Guard serve in a unique status. Each is a full member of the JAGC and also a member of the particular state guard unit. Army National Guard judge advocates support their units' federal mission to maintain properly trained and equipped units that are available for prompt mobilization, and state mission to provide trained and disciplined forces for domestic emergencies or as otherwise required by the state.

    The Army National Guard judge advocate's dual status can be useful. For example, an Army National Guard judge advocate in state status could be permitted to provide assistance to civilian authorities when a judge advocate in federal status might be precluded from providing assistance due to the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act.

    Military judges in the Army National Guard are trained and certified by TJAG similarly to the military judges in the Army and Army Reserve. While in state status, an Army National Guard military judge may, when authorized by applicable state law, preside over courts-martial convened under state law. Upon mobilization and federalization of an Army National Guard military judge, the Chief Trial Judge will review the Army National Guard military judge's training, background, experience, and qualities (demonstrated mature judgment and high moral character) to determine the officer's suitability to serve as a member of the Army Trial Judiciary. Army National Guard officers who qualify for such service may be assigned, as needed, to the Army Trial Judiciary.

2.1.6    U.S. Army Reserve Legal Organizations

    Legal support in the U.S. Army Reserve consists of support embedded in U.S. Army Reserve units, such as in the judge advocate sections of Garrison Support Units (GSUs) designed to provide legal services to power projection platforms, and in Judge Advocate General Service Organizations (JAGSOs).

    JAGSOs are legal units that provide legal services to troops not otherwise provided organic legal support. Additionally, JAGSOs provide CONUS sustaining base support for mobilization, mobilization sustainment, and demobilization operations. JAGSOs consist of judge advocates, warrant officers, and enlisted legal personnel.

    JAGSOs consist of modular teams that provide legal services in all core legal disciplines. JAGSO teams are an integral part of the Total Force and must maintain high standards of professional proficiency and military readiness. TJAG is responsible for the technical supervision, training, and assignment of JAGSO personnel. Training associations between active component and reserve component legal elements ensure quality training and seamless integration during mobilization.

    Each type of JAGSO has specific capabilities. The Legal Support Organization (LSO), which is commanded by a judge advocate, provides operational control and technical supervision for as many as four Legal Services Teams (LST). An LSO will be assigned primary duties as a deploying or mobilization support unit. Those LSOs assigned mobilization support duties are referred to as Mobilization Support Organizations (MSO). MSOs retain a follow-on, post-mobilization, deployment mission. The LSO is modularly organized, and may be split into teams or tailored to support specific mission requirements and split-based operations. The LSO consists of--

  • Support Section A: One chief judge advocate (COL), one legal services coordinator (MAJ), one legal administrator (CW4), and one legal specialist (SPC).
  • Support Section B: One senior judge advocate (LTC), one legal services coordinator (MAJ), one chief legal NCO (CLNCO) (MSG), and one legal NCO (SGT).

    The Legal Service Team is the basic JAGSO and is capable of legal support to all operations. It can provide legal services to a command and its soldiers on the basis of one LST per 6,000 soldiers. The LST is divided into three sections: Command Opinions section, Client Services section, and Litigation section.

  • The Command Opinions section consists of the director, legal services (LTC), a senior legal opinions officer (MAJ), an administrative and contract law officer (CPT), and a senior legal NCO (SFC). The section performs all administrative law functions and provides all legal review and opinions required by law or regulation regarding administrative classifications, reductions, and eliminations. It advises the command regarding statutory and regulatory compliance and acquisitions. It provides international and operational law legal services and investigates and reports on violations of the Law of War.
  • The Client Services section consists of a senior client services officer (MAJ), a legal assistance officer (CPT), a claims officer (CPT), and two legal NCOs (SSG/SGT). The section performs all legal assistance and claims functions. It provides legal assistance and advice to members of the command to assist in resolving personal civil law problems. It receives, investigates, and adjudicates claims against and by the United States.
  • The Litigation Section consists of two Trial Counsel (CPT), a Court Reporter (SSG), and a Legal Specialist (PFC) and advises the command regarding all military justice matters, represents the government in trials by court-martial and before administrative boards, and processes all pretrial and posttrial actions.

    The Regional Trial Defense Team (RTDT) provides operational control, training, and technical supervision for as many as four Trial Defense Teams. The RTDT assigns cases, provides training and general supervision, and assists trial defense counsel in counseling clients and preparing actions for trial before administrative boards or courts-martial. The RTDT consists of a regional defense counsel (LTC), a senior defense counsel (MAJ), and a legal NCO (SSG). The Trial Defense Team (TDT) performs duties as defense counsel in proceedings before administrative boards, under Article 15, UCMJ, and in courts-martial. It is capable of providing defense services on the basis of one team per 12,000 soldiers. A TDT, which currently exists separately from the RTDT, consists of a senior defense counsel (MAJ), three defense counsel (CPT), and one legal NCO (SSG). To maintain their independence, when not mobilized, regional and trial defense teams assigned to defense legal support organizations operate under the technical supervision of the Chief, U.S. Army Trial Defense Service. Upon mobilization, defense teams organic to LSOs/MSOs will be under operational control of the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service.

    The Senior Military Judge Team performs judicial duties and supervises Military Judge Teams. Its members preside at general and special courts-martial, perform duties as military magistrates, and serve in various other judicial capacities. The team consists of a senior military judge (COL) and a legal NCO (SSG), and is capable of providing judicial services on the basis of one team per 15,000 soldiers. The Military Judge Teams, which currently exist separately, consist of a military judge (LTC) and a legal NCO (SGT). Upon mobilization and IAW 10 U.S.C. 826(c), military judge teams organic to LSOs/MSOs will be reassigned to the U.S. Army Trial Judiciary, will come under the supervision and control of the USALSA, and will be employed as directed by the Chief Trial Judge and attached, as required.

    The Army assigns JAGSO teams to theater armies, theater army area commands, corps, corps support commands, and other organizations as required. To prepare and train for operational missions, it is important for active component SJAs to establish close relationships with supporting JAGSOs. The gaining organization SJA, therefore, is responsible for planning for the employment of JAGSO team personnel. Except for regional and trial defense teams and senior and military judge teams, JAGSO teams fall under the technical supervision and administrative control of the SJA of the organization to which a JAGSO team is assigned. The JAGSO teams may augment the SJA section or may work as a remote detachment. The active component SJA is responsible for tasking the JAGSO to perform operational missions.

    Upon mobilization, JAGSO teams depend on the unit to which they are assigned for all logistical and administrative support. Personnel services, finance, communications, transportation, maintenance, automation equipment, and supply are all areas of support needed by the JAGSOs to enable them to deliver the operational law services for which they are designed.

    While not on active duty, JAGSO team duties depend on the units to which they are assigned (regional support command or regional support group) for all support and administrative functions. Typical areas of heavy support include maintenance, unit reporting requirements, common soldier skill training, and transportation.

    Each LSO and LST is designated to provide legal services in support of either mobilization or other military operations. When supporting mobilization, the LSO or LST provides legal services to United States Army Reserve, National Guard, federal, and state agencies affiliated with mobilization. It assists Continental United States Army (CONUSA) SJAs in premobilization planning and in coordinating use of legal assets within the CONUSAs. It coordinates with regional support commands (RSC) or regional support groups (RSG) to provide required legal services, such as Soldier Readiness Processing, to expanded troop populations. It coordinates with RSC, RSG, STARCs, and installations to provide responsive legal services to family members and other authorized personnel. It assists in the re-acquisition of federal property for installation expansion, helps develop or revise Department of Army civilian work rules as required, and provides advice and assistance on acquisition matters while monitoring streamlined acquisition procedures for possible fraud or abuse.

    Upon mobilization, one LSO and at least one TDT will be assigned to FORSCOM subordinate commands (most likely the CONUSAs) in each of the ten standardized federal regions to perform mobilization support and CONUS sustainment base missions. Twenty LSTs will be assigned to these missions and will be assigned as needed under the supervision of the ten mobilization support LSOs.

2.1.7    Staff Judge Advocate Offices

    The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA) is organic to units commanded by a general court-martial convening authority. An organization with a General Officer in command may also be assigned an OSJA, even if there is no general court-martial convening authority. OSJA provides all legal services to the organization except those which must be provided independently. The OSJA normally is composed of a Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), a Deputy Staff Judge Advocate (DSJA), Division Chiefs, judge advocates, a Legal Administrator, a Chief Legal Noncommissioned Officer (CLNCO), legal specialists, and federal civilian legal support staff.

    The Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), the senior judge advocate, is a member of the commander's personal staff40 and, as such, communicates directly with the commander to provide legal advice for all matters affecting morale, good order, and discipline of the command. Additionally, the SJA is a member of the commander's special staff.41 As such, the SJA serves under the supervision of the Chief of Staff, provides legal services to the staff, and coordinates with other staff members to provide responsive legal services throughout the organization.

     The SJA, as a field representative of TJAG, provides technical supervision over all JAGC personnel and legal services in the command, including planning and resourcing legal support, conducting and evaluating training, and assignment and professional development of JAGC personnel assigned to the command. The SJA may also use the legal technical channel to communicate with TJAG and other Supervisory Judge Advocates.42

    The SJA is responsible for all legal services required by the command in operational law and the core legal disciplines described in Chapter 3. Normally, the SJA's duties include:43

  • Providing military justice advice and performing military justice duties prescribed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
  • Resolving legal problems regarding administrative boards, investigations, or other military tribunals.
  • Technical supervision and training of legal personnel in the command and its subordinate units.
  • Providing legal advice and assistance concerning contracts, health care, environmental matters, and compensation matters.
  • Providing legal counsel to the civilian personnel office, equal employment opportunity office, and the command.
  • Providing counsel to the family advocacy Case Review Committee.
  • Serving as the command ethics counselor.
  • Providing international and operational law assistance, to include advice and assistance to implement the DoD Law of War Program.
  • Assisting with litigation in which the United States has an interest.
  • Operating the command's legal assistance, claims, procurement fraud, federal magistrate court, victim-witness assistance, and military justice training programs.
  • Assisting in implementing training programs for reserve component legal personnel and units.
  • Providing legal advice concerning intelligence activities.

    The Deputy Staff Judge Advocate (DSJA) is the second most senior judge advocate. While the SJA is the principal legal advisor to the command, the DSJA, acting for the SJA, is responsible for the organization, administration, and functioning of the OSJA; supervises legal services at a location during split-based operations (e.g., the Army of Excellence Corps DSJA supervises legal operations at the Corps Rear Command Post, or acts as provisional rear SJA when the SJA deploys with the commanding general); and manages collective training for all legal personnel.

  are responsible for providing all legal support within a particular core legal discipline, such as military justice or legal assistance. They supervise judge advocates, civilian attorneys, legal specialists, and civilian legal support staff in the delivery of legal support within the particular discipline; advise the SJA concerning all matters falling within the scope of the particular discipline; and train subordinates in the legal skills required by the discipline.

  perform legal duties in one or more particular legal disciplines under the supervision of the SJA and Division Chief. They review actions for legal sufficiency; investigate factual matters related to legal actions; write legal opinions; advise commanders, staff officers, and personnel; participate in staff working groups or teams; prepare legal actions; advocate before courts-martial and administrative decision-making bodies; and provide legal assistance and other necessary client services to soldiers and their family members. Judge advocates supervise legal specialists and civilian legal support staff, who assist in the performance of these functions.

 assigned to the SJA office perform legal duties described in the previous paragraph, except advocating before courts-martial. They regularly provide great depth of expertise in a particular legal discipline. They also have supervisory responsibilities, which may include Division Chief responsibilities.

    The Legal Administrator, a warrant officer with special training in law office management and operations, serves as Chief of the Administrative Division and performs the following duties:

  • Coordinates personnel actions for officers, NCOs, enlisted soldiers, and civilians.
  • Serves as resource manager: develops fiscal requirements, executes program budget guidance, authenticates funding obligations, monitors expenditures, and manages the Internal Control Program.
  • Serves as information management officer (IMO), supporting correspondence, telecommunications, records management, automation, micrographics, forms, printing and publication, and visual aids.
  • Serves as Security Officer.
  • Monitors and certifies training records for all assigned and attached personnel.
  • Advises the SJA on methods of improving the administration of legal services.
  • Manages manpower staffing and utilization programs.
  • Implements Army Law Library Service policies, procedures, and systems.
  • Reviews and authenticates military justice and administrative documents.

    The Chief Legal Noncommissioned Officer (CLNCO) is the senior enlisted soldier in the section and performs the following duties.

  • Serves as principal advisor to the SJA, commanders, and their staffs concerning all legal specialists and paralegals.
  • Ensures common soldier skill proficiency of all legal personnel, and MOS proficiency of all legal specialists.
  • In coordination with the SJA, manages taskings by installation and higher headquarters.
  • Provides technical supervision of legal specialists performing duties in support of the SJA, DSJA, and Division Chiefs.
  • Reviews military justice and administrative documents and files.
  • Supervises technical training of all legal specialists located at subordinate brigades and battalions, including legal specialists deploying as part of a separate legal section or a Brigade Operational Law Team (BOLT). Ensures timely legal technical and automation training, including use and care of the RDL.
  • Assists the Legal Administrator in monitoring and certifying training records for all assigned and attached personnel.
  • Ensures logistical support for each team in the SJA section, to include procurement, issue, turn-in, accountability of equipment, and preparation for predeployment, deployment, and redeployment.
  • Coordinates the assignment of legal specialists.
  • In conjunction with the DSJA, serves as liaison between unit staff sections and the OSJA to coordinate field training.
  • Revises and updates the enlisted portion of the SJA's Field Standard Operating Procedures (FSOP).

  (all NCOs and enlisted soldiers with 71D MOS) provide paralegal and clerical support in all core legal disciplines under the supervision of the SJA, Division Chief, and judge advocates. They investigate the facts relating to legal actions, conduct legal research, prepare legal documents, schedule appointments, assist clients under the supervision of an attorney, provide all logistical arrangements for courts-martial or administrative hearings, review legal documents and actions for technical accuracy, process claims, maintain records and statistics, and prepare reports of legal actions. Legal specialists with the additional skill identifier (ASI) C5 are court reporters. In addition to the above duties, they record and transcribe verbatim proceedings of courts-martial, administrative proceedings, Article 5 tibunals, and other proceedings as required by law or regulation.

    Legal specialists at the battalion and brigade provide commanders basic paralegal services under the technical supervision of the SJA and subordinate judge advocates. They act as liaisons between their units and the OSJA. They prepare legal and administrative documents such as records of nonjudicial punishment, adverse administrative separations, courts-martial documents, powers of attorney, will worksheets, confinement orders, preliminary criminal investigation and AR 15-6 investigation report forms, Article 139 claims investigation report forms, and statistical reports concerning legal actions. They maintain offical files for all unit legal actions. They apprise the commander of the status of all command legal actions.

    Legal specialists must be proficient in managing a legal office in the field in support of operations. They must know how a commander and his staff operate in a tactical operations center (TOC) or other headquarters structure. They must also perform traditional NCO functions-training and taking care of troops. In addition to legal, staff, and office skills, 71D personnel must train to proficiency in soldier common tasks. They must be able to survive on the battlefield, and be able to help other soldiers survive.

     Finally, legal specialists maintain a deployment legal office package (forms, supplies, equipment, references, etc.) ready to deploy in support of the legal office and the command. When required, the legal specialist provides administrative support during Soldier Readiness Processing (SRPs), and Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercises (EDREs), and to any other mobilization preparation process.

     Civilian Legal Support Staff may include paralegals, court reporters, legal clerks, legal secretaries, and other supporting staff who provide paralegal and administrative support under the supervision of the SJA, Division Chiefs, judge advocates, and civilian attorneys.

2.1.8    Command Judge Advocates

    A Command Judge Advocate (CJA) is the senior judge advocate in a legal office serving a commander who is not a general court-martial convening authority, and who is not otherwise authorized an SJA. The CJA is the commander's personal legal advisor for all matters that affect the morale, good order, and discipline of the command and is a member of the commander's special staff. The CJA's relationship to the commander, subordinate commanders, and staff is similar to that of an SJA. The Regimental Judge Advocate of the Ranger Regiment is an example of a CJA.

    The CJA supervises the legal specialists. With their assistance, the CJA provides legal support in required legal disciplines to the commander and the staff. Normally, the host installation OSJA will provide legal support in the disciplines of legal assistance, military justice, and claims. Nevertheless, a CJA may provide such services in accordance with the policies of the commander and the SJA of the host installation or the next higher command, and consistent with professional responsibility requirements.


     An OIC of a Law Center is a judge advocate responsible for supervising the provision of all legal services in a designated military community. The Law Center is a branch office of a senior headquarters SJA office. Law Centers are particularly common in Europe. Unlike CJAs, OICs typically are responsible to provide legal support in all core legal disciplines and to supervise legal services provided by law center personnel. The OIC typically advises the installation and tactical commanders in that community.


    Legal organizations are embedded in each joint organization, including the Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; each unified, specified, and subordinate unified command; and each joint task force. Army legal organizations support army organizations designated as a component command, or otherwise a part of a joint organization.

2.2.1    The Office of the Legal Counsel to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

    The Office of the Legal Counsel advises the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concerning the legal basis for conducting operations, rules of engagement, and other international and domestic law affecting operations.

2.2.2    Unified, Specified, and Subordinate Unified Command Staff Judge Advocates

    SJA offices in these commands provide legal support to the command. Their specific organization and functions vary according to the mission of the Unified, Specified, or Subordinate Unified Command. Nevertheless, these offices are composed of an SJA or Legal Advisor, judge advocates with required specialities from various services, legal specialists, and civilian employees. These offices provide legal advice in international and operational law, law of the sea, air and space law, military justice, administrative law, civil law, claims, legal assistance, and any other required areas of law.

2.2.3    Joint Task Force Staff Judge Advocate

    When a Combatant Commander forms a Joint Task Force (JTF), the combatant command SJA designs and staffs the JTF SJA office based on the JTF mission and organization. The JTF SJA provides the legal services required by the JTF, supervises legal services in organizations subordinate to the JTF, and coordinates additional legal support through the combatant command SJA. The JTF SJA will receive technical supervision from the combatant command SJA and will exercise technical supervision over legal personnel in organizations under JTF operational control.


    Legal organizations may be embedded in multinational headquarters to provide legal advice and support to multinational military operations.45 These multinational headquarters may derive their authority from the United Nations, a regional alliance, a bilateral or multilateral international agreement, an ad hoc coalition agreement, or a combination thereof.46 Regardless of the applicable international legal authority, U.S. Forces and personnel remain subject to the U.S. National Command Authorities (NCA) and domestic law.

    Legal organizations in multinational headquarters provide advice concerning command authority, the legal basis for operations, rules of engagement and the use of force, the status of multinational forces, and other issues. Legal advisors in multinational headquarters must find legal solutions that satisfy the legal standards of the international community and each troop contributing nation, or must forward issues to superior national and international authorities for resolution.


    All the legal organizations described above provide legal support to operations in the deployment theater and at home station throughout all stages of the mobilization and operation. Organic legal organizations provide support to unit C2, sustainment, and support operations. JAGSOs and other reserve component judge advocates, such as the judge advocate sections GSUs, augment organic legal support in required core legal disciplines. SJAs of superior commands provide technical legal supervision and support to subordinate units. OTJAG, the Field Operating Agencies (USALSA & TJAGSA), and CLAMO provide additional required technical legal support.

    The challenge for the SJA is to provide legal support to operations that meets the organization's mission-specific requirements. The SJA meets this challenge by detailing operational lawyers (judge advocates) to each key operational cell (e.g., G-3 Plans, G-3 Operations, Information Operations, targeting cells, tactical command posts, civil military operation centers, and Brigade main CPs), providing all core legal disciplines at each division or corps command post and home station, and coordinating technical legal supervision, technical legal support, and augmentation requirements.

2.4.1    Overview of Operational Law Support

    Operational Law (OPLAW) is that body of domestic, foreign, and international law that directly affects the conduct of operations. OPLAW tasks support the command and control and sustainment of military operations, including the military decision-making process and the conduct of operations. OPLAW supports the commander's military decision-making process by performing mission analysis, preparing legal estimates, designing the operational legal support architecture, wargaming, writing legal annexes, assisting in the development of Rules of Engagement (ROE), and reviewing plans and orders. OPLAW supports the conduct of operations by maintaining situational awareness; advising and assisting with targeting, ROE implementation, and information operations. Judge advocates performing OPLAW also provide or facilitate support in the core legal disciplines. Therefore judge advocates performing OPLAW must be well-versed in all core legal disciplines, skilled in managing legal operations, and effective in relations with military commanders and staffs. The general OPLAW support concept is depicted in Figure 2-3, below.

    Organizations on the left side of the diagram (DoD and other government agencies, OTJAG, CLAMO, USALSA, USARCS, and TJAGSA) provide technical legal support. Immediately to their right are depicted OSJAs, which support their parent organizations and deploy to provide required legal support. Beneath these are depicted LSOs, which deploy to augment organic legal support. MSOs support force projection and other mobilization and CONUS sustainment base missions, and can deploy as a follow-on mission. LSOs and MSOs are composed of LSTs, which provide legal support in a variety of disciplines. Within the deployment theater, organic legal organizations provide legal support, and are augmented by LSOs and LSTs (depicted by small circles throughout the theater, corps, division, and brigade areas) as required.

    Legal organizations provide OPLAW support throughout all stages of mobilization and operations in the deployment theater and at home station. Legal personnel organic to deploying active and reserve component units support their units and unit personnel. Legal personnel organic to installations provide home station legal support. Legal personnel organic to nondeploying units at the installation may provide home station support subject to their unit readiness and operations. Mobilized LSOs deploy to the theater to support deployed forces; however, they may be employed in CONUS prior to deployment to assist MSOs consistent with the LSO's requirements to prepare and deploy.

    MSOs provide legal support throughout CONUS during all stages of mobilization to active and reserve component units, organizations, installations, soldiers, and family members. Upon mobilization, they will be assigned to active component FORSCOM subordinate commands (most likely a Continental United States Army or CONUSA). They may be placed under the operational or tactical control of mobilization stations or RSCs, or of STARCs, in the event the STARC is mobilized or federalized. During peacetime, MSOs assist USAR and ARNG personnel in Personnel Readiness Programs. During the stages of mobilization, MSOs provide legal support for:

  • mobilizing USAR and ARNG units at home station in Soldier Readiness Processing;
  • mobilization stations during peak surges of mobilization and deployment;
  • family members of mobilized USAR and ARNG personnel at home station or mobilization stations;
  • mobilization stations during peak surges of redeployment and demobilization;
  • redeployed and demobilized USAR and ARNG personnel and family members at home station.

    Finally, MSOs may be required to deploy and provide legal support to deployed forces. For more information, consult Army Regulation 500-5, Army Mobilization and Operation Planning and Execution System (AMOPES).47

    The diagram also depicts communication and automation linkages from the company area to the CONUS sustaining base. Each Judge advocate must be linked to the Army Battle Command System (ABCS), particularly to Maneuver Control System - Phoenix (MCS-P), to Global Combat Support System - Army (GCSS-A), and to legal information networks through the Legal Automation Army-Wide System (LAAWS). Only then will judge advocates know the situation and have the complete and current legal information required to provide the proactive, timely, and accurate legal advice that will empower and sustain the force.

    Not depicted in the diagram, but vital to effective legal support, are the equipment and transportation requirements. Legal organizations must be as capable as the units they support. The OSJA element in a corps, division, or brigade Command Post must have the workspace, communications and automation capabilities, and transportation assets to function in coordination with the staff. Other critical equipment requirements include radios linked with tactical nets, global positioning devices, and the RDL. (The RDL and its components are discussed in Chapter 4.) In addition, many legal functions require mobility: the SJA must travel to supervise legal services (as must the DSJA when managing legal services at another command post); foreign claims and war crimes investigation teams must travel to investigate claims and potential war crimes; judge advocates must attend Joint Military Commission meetings and meetings with international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and private volunteer organizations; trial and trial defense counsel must travel to counsel commanders or clients and investigate cases.

2.4.2    Tailoring Operational Law Support

    The SJA begins tailoring legal support to an operation by analyzing METT-TC (mission, enemy, troops, terrain and weather, time available, and civilian considerations) to determine the potential legal issues, the extent of support required within each core legal discipline, and the legal resources available. Substantial and helpful information is available to assist the SJA in this analysis in the Operational Law Handbook, which is published annually by the International and Operational Law Department at TJAGSA, and in lessons learned on file with CLAMO.

    Next, the SJA must design the legal support architecture for the operation. There are two requirements: first, judge advocates, and any required legal specialists, must deploy with each key operational cell; second, the SJA must provide support in all core legal disciplines to both the deployed force and home station, even if support in some disciplines is not deployed. These requirements place significant demands upon the legal organization. SJAs must consider the need for augmentation and address concerns through legal technical channels.

    To meet these two requirements, there are two complementary strategies. First, the SJA may deploy a legal organization equipped to provide support in all legal disciplines. This structure may contain a proportionate slice from each division. (Significant efficiencies are obtainable by deploying personnel skilled in multiple legal disciplines. Therefore, SJAs must ensure that judge advocates and legal specialists are trained in multiple disciplines.) Second, the SJA may deploy legal support in a particular legal discipline, while providing other legal support from the home station or other location. (For example, if a commander deploys an organization to perform a mission of brief duration and likely to involve claims issues, the SJA may deploy all or part of the claims division.) These approaches are not mutually exclusive; they may be blended to meet mission requirements.

    Finally, the SJA must coordinate technical legal supervision and support. Judge advocates receive technical legal supervision (i.e., guidance, direction, and assistance in the discharge of their duties) from TJAG and SJAs of superior commands.48 Judge advocates may receive technical legal support (i.e., legal information or expertise) from any Army legal organization. Technical legal supervision and support normally follow the chain of command. In joint operations, or when Army units are operationally controlled by other Army organizations, technical supervision follows operational control; superior parent and supported headquarters should both provide required technical support. Nevertheless, technical supervision and support arrangements must be coordinated for each specific core legal discipline. For example, military justice supervision and support could either lie with the parent command or the joint headquarters. In allied or coalition legal organizations, technical legal supervision will be dual (national and international). SJAs supporting allied or coalition organizations must coordinate thoroughly to define the parameters of technical legal supervision, as well as to resolve the myriad legal concerns arising during operations.

2.5    SUMMARY

    TJAG heads and directs all legal services in the Army, and provides legal support for operations at all levels of command. Embedded legal organizations (OSJAs or CJAs) in the active and reserve components and in joint organizations provide operational law and core legal discipline support to their parent organizations. Special legal units (JAGSOs) augment legal support as required by the mission. Judicial and trial defense services are provided by independent legal organizations in order to preserve the integrity of the military justice system. Joint and multinational legal organizations provide operational law support and supervise legal operations of subordinate units within the parameters of international and domestic law.

    SJAs tailor, or task organize, legal support for each specific operation, by detailing judge advocates and any required legal specialists, to all key operational cells, providing support in all core legal disciplines to the deploying force and home station, and ensuring effective technical legal supervision and support. The result is responsive, proactive, flexible, and expandable legal support in every operational contingency.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list