In this post, I discuss my experience during week 6 of the Army JAG School, particularly the “brief the commander” exercise.
We just completed week 6 of the Army’s JAG School, and we have now spent as long here as we spent at Fort Benning. We have just a little more than a month left before we graduate and head to our various duty assignments or—in the case of members of the reserves and National Guard—back home. This week we completed the fiscal law block, moved through a legal assistance block on estate planning, and began operations and international law.
Brief the Commander
On Monday, we had a “brief the commander” exercise in which we divided up into groups of two to give a briefing on the appropriate ways to pay for supplies and operations desired by the commander. The idea was to provide a simulation of the type of briefings we will have to give should we ever find ourselves in a position as a fiscal law attorney.
To prepare to brief the commander, we received a list of questions from the “commander” regarding how to pay for a variety of items and troop movements. So I had to study for this one. It would have been impossible to fake my way through this briefing, as it was just my partner and me in a room with the instructor playing the role of commander. The brief the commander exercise was nevertheless enjoyable and a highly practical event.
On Tuesday morning, we had our fiscal law exam. It was fifty multiple-choice questions covering the material we covered over the previous week. The exam was open-note, so it was not overly difficult. I believe everyone in the class passed.
From Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning, we covered estate planning and tax issues we may have to address while serving in a legal assistance office. Instead of an exam, we had to write a will and accompanying living will, healthcare power of attorney, and springing power of attorney.
There are more legal assistance matters that we will cover later, but they moved this block to this week because the current instructor is scheduled to deploy prior to the end of our class.
On Thursday afternoon, we started operations and international law. This is a more exciting subject matter, as it covers the law of war and various treaties and other legal obligations we must consider during times of war. We will spend about two weeks on this area of the law, and I will provide updates on what we cover as time progresses.
On Friday morning, we had our JAGEX—that is, JAG exercise. Half the class—including myself—went on Friday, while the other half will go through the exercise in a few weeks. This was an enjoyable experience that was designed to simulate the function and dynamics of real legal office.
Some junior enlisted soldiers attending AIT—advanced individual training—at Fort Lee drove here to join us and the NCOs at the NCO Academy—which is also conducted here—in the exercise. We were given legal issues to address with the assistance of the NCOs and junior paralegals. It was a good opportunity to learn how to interact with and utilize the skill-set of the enlisted personnel working in a legal office.
We had our weigh-in this week. Everyone has to meet the height/weight requirements in order to meet course standards here and—ultimately—to stay in the Army. (You can find the height/weight chart here.)
Next week, we have our record physical fitness test, which everyone must pass to meet the course requirements. Even though we just did the same thing at DCC, we have to do it again to meet the requirements of the JAG School.
Next week we continue through the operations and international law course. I will provide additional updates next week.
I provide a more expansive account of my experience at the Army JAG School in my book The JAG School Survival Guide: Succeeding at the Army’s Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author’s own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, the National Guard Bureau, the Arkansas National Guard, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.