Saturday, August 26, 2006

What I'll Be Doing

On Saturday, Saturday here, we met with most of the JAGs here in country and got training on what each of the various commands are doing. It was pretty cool what kinds of things are happening on the legal side here in country. I'll explain them in a minute. The cool thing is, they want us to help with their missions. What that means is that we are gong to have three major areas that we can work on.

So let me explain. Our first priority is to provide legal services for our commands. Paul and Dusty will have only one command to help. I've been assigned two. My primary command is the 201st RCAG and my second is the 41 TAG. The 201st is where most of my team will be so I'm excited about that. The 201st will be mentoring and training a couple of ANA batallions. The 41 TAG is the American training element within the Kabul Military Training Center. That's where new soldiers and officers go to get their basic military training.

We are also going to get to mentor the military legal process by mentoring the prosecutors, defense counsel and judges. We will get to help them work through the court martial process. We will get to mentor them on how to prepare and present their cases. We will get to mentor them in the presentation of the case and then mentor them in any appellate process. I was concerned about the confict of interest issue since we, the mentor, will be working with all sides. The answer is that we're just going to have to be careful in what we do.

The court martial process here is not as adversarial as our system. In fact, there's only one file that's created. What that means, is that the prosecutor and defense attorney work with the same file. Even the judge gets a crack at the file. Dusty and I kept asking all kinds of questions and it became very obvious that he and I were a prosecutor and defense attorney. It really baffled us at how open their system was but I guess it works for them.

Since the military justice code was only recently enacted, a lot of the JAGs are unfamiliar with it. We will get to work with and train them on the code and help them implement it. We are so excited.

We will also get the opportunity, if there's time, to work with the civilian justice system. That will be our third mission and only if we have time, but it would be great to actually get out into the civilian court system and do some mentoring there as well.

I know that I have left out so many details and you're probably wondering why this is so exciting, but for lawyers, especially military lawyers to get to work in a system that has barely laid the foundation for their entire military justice system, it's incredible. There is no case law written. We hope to help them begin that process. We hope to be able to instill in them a sense of just how important the military justice system is.

We will also get to work with the military commanders and mentor them and get them to understand just how valuable their JAGs/SJAs can be. In many batallions, the JAG is viewed as a non-essential member of the command. It will be our responsibility to change that perception. I can hardly wait.

As we left that briefing, the three of us were so excited to get out and start working.

So, that's kind of a very brief overview of what we'll be doing in the next year. I hope to be able to share with you some really cool and exciting experiences. In some small way, I hope to have an impact on the future of the Afghan Military Justice Code.

It sill boggles my mind that we get to do this stuff!!!

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