PINELLAS PARK, FL –
Over 300 Judge Advocates, Legal Administrators, Paralegals, Department of the Army Civilians and retirees from 58 units representing all three components of the U.S. Army, gathered at the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center for a Regional Collective Training Southeast, February 24-26, 2023.
The 213th Legal Operations Detachment, a component of the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command, led the planning, coordination and logistics in support of the event. Traveling from over 10 states within the Southeast region of the United States, legal professionals received strategic briefings from senior leaders, networked and conducted breakout sessions to enhance their knowledge and professional development.
Sgt. 1st Class Cassandra M. West, a member of the 213th LOD was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the RCT. West is a second-generation Soldier: her father is a Retired Chief Warrant Officer Four in the Army and her sister is a Retired Sergeant First Class in the National Guard Bureau. The Harrisburg, Pa. native enlisted in the Army Reserve at 31 years old in 2004 and recalls her years of service participating in the evolution of these training events.
“The RCT is a time for us to come together, get some training and network to see where everyone is and what they’re doing,” said West. “It also helps our junior Soldiers get to know their leaders, where they’re located and what else is out there.”
In addition to networking and building their Army career, participants such as Lt. Col. Michael Fritz, a native of Montgomery, Ala. and officer in charge of the RCT, lauded the benefits of the Army investing in their professional development. Fritz explained the Army Reserve covering Continuing Legal Education requirements is a crucial benefit from his service.
“It’s really good for us Reservists to have something like this where we can knock out all of our CLE requirements and beneficial for me a private practice attorney that the Army provides legal training I can take to my bar and get credit for,” said Fritz.
Active component instructors from The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School facilitated CLE courses to over 180 attorneys during the RCT. The course material provided the latest information on current issues impacting the active component, keeping participants up to date on military law.
Courses included Space Law taught by the U.S. Air Force, Defense Support to Civil Authorities, nonjudicial punishments, written advocacy and ethical responsibilities. Attorneys may take the completion of these courses back to their state bar for accreditation towards their annual CLE requirements.
Officers, Warrant Officers, and enlisted personnel divided into groups to focus on professional development, individual training with practical exercises, and mentorship sessions with senior leaders of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
In addition to attorneys, the collective training event dispensed vital, standardized information for a variety of legal services personnel, such as Legal Administrators, Paralegals, DACs and retirees. Training included mapping out opportunities available in a career as a warrant officer, accessions and retirement, JAGC systems and mobilizations.
Another feature of the RCT were its breakout sessions for enlisted Soldiers. Training topics included Administrative Law, Officer Administrative Separations and toolkits for commanders. Soldiers were engaged in practical exercises such as drafting Investigative Officer (IO) appointment memorandums and General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR) actions.
Many shared positive feedback on the RCT, including Maj. Brenna Coleman, a recently transferred Soldier from the 45th Infantry Division in Oklahoma City to the 213th LOD in Decatur, Ga.
“It [attending the RCT] was very helpful especially when learning what jobs are out there outside of strictly what’s in your unit. You can really take advantage of these opportunities and network because you don’t know what you don’t know until you are actually there,” said Coleman.
The RCT also provided opportunities for Soldiers to forge valuable professional connections with fellow Reservists from across the nation to build relationships to have the potential to grow with them throughout both their professional and military careers.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie you get from being in the military. In my civilian job,” he compared, “they all talk to people in their circle. But my circle is the whole country and all these JAGs [Judge Advocates Generals]”, said Fritz. “When we talk, we talk about legal issues that affect the entire world and I get a different perspective.”
This was the first of three RCTs this year. Contact your local LOD to find an RCT near you at https://www.usar.army.mil/Commands/Functional/Legal-Command/USAR-LGL-CMD-Units/. Register online at https://jagu.army.mil/.