What kind of “clients” do military lawyers serve?  Read on!

Civilian attorneys have all kinds of organizational “clients,” but have you had a chance to learn much about the ones military lawyers serve?  Today’s post by Air Force judge advocates (or “JAGs”) Majors (s) Kyle Carter and Greg Speirs gives you an idea of one of the many such “clients” that JAGs support.  It’s a very unique Air Force unit with a specialized – and very difficult – mission.  As you’ll see, it’s a demanding one for these lawyers.

Greg has a tight connection with Duke Law’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS) even though he is actually a 2014 graduate of North Carolina Central University School of Law.  Through the inter-institutional registration program with NCCU, he took every national/international security law course available here at Duke Law.  I had the honor of commissioning Greg into the Air Force in 2014.

Maj(s) Kyle Carter and Maj(s) Greg Speirs at the 2020 Duke LENS Conference

Kyle is also no stranger to LENS having attended our annual conference last February.  Here’s their description of their unit (I’ve lightly-edited it and added some embedded links and photos):

With cold weather, desert, and chemical bags constantly packed, Judge Advocates with the 621st Contingency Response Wing (CRW) “Devil Raiders” are ready to deploy worldwide with less than four hours notice.

As America’s only CRW, we execute the full spectrum of Contingency Response (CR) operations year round, providing a “go-to” option for America’s senior leaders in establishing a warfighting airbase overseas, or fixing a damaged airport to allow for aid relief in a humanitarian mission.  

Such activities are in direct support of several defense objectives within the National Defense Strategy (NDS), including global sustainment of our Joint Force military advantage and continuously delivering performance with affordability at the speed of relevance. 

The creation of the CR forces traces back to 1994, when the Air Force activated the 621st Air Mobility Operations Group (AMOG), to present forces capable of supporting Airmen able to rapidly establish, expand, sustain and document worldwide air mobility operations.  Through expansion in 2005, the group became the 621st Contingency Response Wing, which paired command and control, aerial port, maintenance and Air Mobility Liaison Officers (AMLOs). 

When deployed, 621 CRW commonly attaches to the US Army and US Marine Corps Expeditionary Forces, with security forces, finance, intelligence, civil engineering and more career fields, to conduct Air Base Opening missions and support their efforts worldwide.  Mission sets vary, from the opening of an airbase either in an austere environment (Iraq 2016), or to help open a damaged airport after a humanitarian disaster (Puerto Rico 2017, Bahamas 2019).

On any given day, Devil Raiders are training and deploying across the globe as America’s uniquely-skilled 9-1-1 force.  Constant mission support to the three groups and eleven squadrons means consistent resolution of legal issues by the CRW/JA office enabling commanders to retain a high ops tempo.  The CRW/JA office is currently comprised of two third-assignment captains serving as Wing Legal Advisors (LEGADs). 

With an overarching theme throughout the CRW that every Airman must be ready to do any job in the deployed environment, the LEGADs undergo the same CR-specific training all members from each different career field attend upon joining the CRW. 

Maj (s) Speirs at MR training

This multi-faceted training includes: construction of structures, pallet loading, building clearing, nighttime weapons certification with NVD goggles, weapons certification in MOPP gear, and MRZR & Humvee vehicle government licensure certifications.  Such efforts demonstrate how the CRW is reforming the way the Air Force does business with greater performance and affordability, as outlined in the NDS.

After certification, the LEGADs constantly sit alert year round, each able to respond anywhere in the world in support of a USTRANSCOM mission.  Additionally, the JAGs frequently travel along for exercises worldwide.

(USAF photo by 1st Lt. Jake Bailey)

Over the last decade, CR forces gained a new mission set: to build partner capacity forces with friendly countries through the activation of two Mobility Support Advisor Squadrons.  Air Advisors travel every few weeks to South American and African countries, in an effort to increase allies’ aviation capacity and contribute to geographic combatant command strategic objectives. 

Both squadrons present fiscal, ethical, contractual and international agreement interpretation issues to the LEGADs daily, in furtherance of the NDS’ goal to “strengthen alliances and attract new partners.”

Advise, direct and project airpower…anytime, anywhere!

The essay was reprinted with permission from the Air Force JAG Corps Online News.

The views expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, or Duke University.


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