Lawyers on Horseback? Thoughts on Judge Advocates and Civil-Military Relations


Uniformed lawyers—judge advocates—are uniquely situated at the heart of the American civil-military relationship. A recent article published in this law review argued that this placement has hindered military operations and disrupted civilian control over the military; left unaddressed, it will negatively affect the nation’s ability to fight and win future wars.

This Essay takes issue with such assertions. In fact, judge advocates foster appropriate civil-military relations. They participate in the development and application of policy in a manner that enhances civilian control over military affairs. Moreover, judge advocates are singularly well-placed to ensure that civilian leadership preferences are fully understood and followed by the military on the battlefield. The Essay concludes by forcefully rejecting any suggestion that judge advocates pose an obstacle to operational success, charging that those who make such claims reveal their lack of operational experience.

By uclalaw