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The Judge Advocate General Visits Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Lt Gen Richard C. Harding
  • Office of The Staff Judge Advocate
Last week, I joined Vice Admiral James W. Houck, The Judge Advocate General for the Navy, and Major General Clyde J. Tate II, the Deputy Judge Advocate General for the Army and visited several joint and coalition JAG offices in Afghanistan. We met with General Petraeus, Ambassador Eikenberry, and a number of combat commanders to discuss the JAG Corps' support for the mission in Afghanistan. The message from these senior leaders is clear: the JAG Corps' contributions are essential to winning today's fight.

Our efforts are contributing to winning this war. From detainee operations under Task Force 435, to contingency contracting, to rule of law training in an interagency environment, and to mentoring Afghan counterparts ... deployed JAGs and paralegals are making profound and positive contributions every day to the OEF mission. Our mission of creating, building, and restoring the rule of law in Afghanistan instills confidence in the Afghan people. Our contingency contracts attorneys help build public infrastructure and sustain logistical support to our deployed soldiers, Airmen, sailors and Marines. In every facet of winning today's fight, JAGs and paralegals are present and making a difference.

One word summarizes my impression of the contributions of our deployed JAGs and paralegals: awesome! I saw great enthusiasm for the mission in Afghanistan, and it made me so very proud. I heard from JAGs who told me their service in Afghanistan was the highlight of their military career.

We also met our Afghan counterparts. I was impressed with their bravery, their dedication, and their devotion to building a lasting Afghan government. They exhibit the same core values of integrity, service, excellence, and the same guiding principles of wisdom, valor, justice, that we hold dear. They are driven to make the nation of Afghanistan survive and thrive.

In life, everyone should want to make a difference. That is what I saw in Afghanistan -- JAGs, paralegals, and their Afghan counterparts making a difference. Your teammates in Afghanistan are making their mark on history. Someday, when their uniformed days are behind them and their actions today only exist in pictures, memories, and anecdotes, others standing their watch will say, "They were giants; they stood tall when it mattered most, and they set the bar for all of us who follow."