Althouse: "When I arrived back in 2001 I found 10,000 lawyers in the Department of Defense."

“When I arrived back in 2001 I found 10,000 lawyers in the Department of Defense.”

Says Donald Rumsfeld:

They’re there at every level. We live in an enormously litigious society and the Congress contributes to that. As a result, there’s practically no step that’s made by anyone in the Pentagon and in the Department of Defense where they do not take into account the legal implications and consult lawyers about it….

via Althouse: “When I arrived back in 2001 I found 10,000 lawyers in the Department of Defense.”.

There should be 2 lawyers in a brigade combat team. One for the prosecution, one for the defense. And they should have absolutely no say in operational matters.

As to commanders, if you don’t have the gumption to take a stand that isn’t behind a lawyer’s skirts, you shouldn’t be in command.

8 thoughts on “Althouse: "When I arrived back in 2001 I found 10,000 lawyers in the Department of Defense."”

  1. Unfortunately, the workload requires 3 lawyers in a BCT; two captains and a major to oversee them…. Plus a team of clerks.
    But seriously, while I appreciate and generally concur with the gist of your remarks, I have found that my lawyer has stayed closely to the realm of providing informed analysis to the CDR for ultimate decision BY the CDR. Interestingly, my own lawyer was the only officer on my BCT staff that I did not write the evaluation on, he being rated by the DIV SJA (excepting a couple that were done by my S3).

  2. Frankly, I think 3 lawyers in a BCT is 2 too many. If the load is so heavy you need 3, then some serious thinking about what they are doing needs to be done. JAG officers need to stay intheir offices and completely away from opoerational matters. They need to sdtay away from Courts Martial as well, except as advisors to the board. The kind of foolishness we have seen in Iraq and AFG with JAG ossifers being consulted on trageting is utterly stupid. Brad is exactly right about commanders that need JAG skirts to stand behind.

  3. I have not seen the entire dialog, and thus don’t have a full appreciation for the context of the remark. BUT, having run around the National Capital Region for some time now on business, I would say YES there are too many lawyers on DoD payrolls. We need to consider how complex the regulatory oversight has become. Oversight is a necessary process under our system of government. But it is one thing to say the military strives for zero defects at the operational/tactical level – lives are on the line. It is another to hold the military to a zero defect standard reporting paper clip purchases.

  4. I have served as Chief of Operations, S3 and Brigade XO in deployed TOCs. I have never witnessed my commander at the squadron or brigade level, during two OIF rotations, allow the lawyer to stop him from taking an operational action. We are a nation that has committed to abiding by both national and international standards, including the Law of Armed Conflict, various conventions, security agreements. Bottom line is that the lawyer is the best trained staffer to provide informed and objective analysis of that and make recommendations to the commander. As to dispensing with them, it sounds tough and cool, but they are an integral part of the brigade staff, and I frankly, needed one or two more, not less. They provide legal support to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines of my unit; provided operational law analysis, contracting support, ensured investigations were done to standard, trained my subordinate units in ensuring that we met the evidentiary requirements to get the Iraqi Criminal Court to convict terrorists we detained, provided invaluable judiciary support for training the Iraqis in Rule of Law, oversaw detainee operations, and even served as Red Team for my staff analysis. And yes, they participated in my targeting process. Lawyers were absolutely indispensible to us, and even though my boss grumbled, they kept him straight. He was free to accept or deny their recommendations. While i don’t doubt that there are some commanders that hide behind legal opinion, I have not personally witnessed it. If someone has real examples, i would like to hear them.

    1. The two are complimetary. Accountants alone aren’t nearly as bad as Lawyers by themselves. Accountants don’t sue you, although they can be irritating. Lawyers will impoverish you and smile while they do it.

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