In this post, I discuss international law and week 7 of the Army’s JAG School.
Week 7 of the Army’s JAG School is now behind us, and our time in Charlottesville is quickly coming to an end. We have just three-and-a-half weeks before graduation. This week we completed the teaching portion of operations and international law, and we will take the exam next week.
The International Law Block
This week’s classes were exclusively devoted to operations and international law. This is a very interesting area of the law and more than anything else—with the possible exception of courts-martial—reflects the popular understanding of military law.
Topics for the week included the Geneva Conventions, war crimes, intelligence law, and rules of engagement. We spent most mornings in seminar groups discussing what he had learned the day before and evaluating a variety of hypothetical scenarios to apply our understanding of the law. We then spent most afternoons in lectures.
There was a lot of material to cover, so learning the various topics felt like drinking through a fire hose. The subject matter is manageable, however, and if you’ve taken an international law course in law school, it will probably seem somewhat familiar. Even if you haven’t, though, the material is pretty basic, so anyone should be able to gain the familiarity required with just a small amount of study.
As part of the program, we are divided into professional development groups. These are small groups led by various members of the faculty and are devoted to issues of professional development as officers and lawyers in the Army.
This week, we watched the first episode of Band of Brothers and then broke out and discussed the contrasting leadership styles of Lieutenant Winters—Major Winters by the end of the series—and Captain Sobel.
These sessions serve as good opportunities to speak with and learn from more experienced judge advocates.
We conducted our record physical fitness test this week. We were divided into six run groups when we first arrived in Charlottesville based upon our two-mile run time during the PFT at Fort Benning. The first three run groups conducted their PFT on Thursday with run groups four through six going on Friday.
The maximum achievable score is 300, while the minimum passing score is 180 with 60 points required on each event. Our class average was 278, which is pretty impressive in general but even more so for attorneys, most of whom are direct commission officers. The PT program here is very well run, and most people improved significantly from their time at Fort Benning, where PT was pretty lax.
Next week we take our operations and international law test on Monday morning. After that we move onto administrative law, which is our last major block of instruction. I will continue to provide updates, so please continue to check back if your are interested.
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.