Air Force JAG turns 20
by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs
7/2/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- Celebrating 20 years of providing the Air Force with trained and qualified judge advocates, civilian attorneys and paralegals, the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School recently commemorated the historic occasion.
"The 20th anniversary of the JAG School building dedication is a momentous day in the JAG School's history," said Col. Kenneth Theurer, commandant of AFJAGS.
The school offers opportunities for attorneys and paralegals to enhance their legal education.
"The in-resident courses, distance education and publications provided by the JAG School give our students the legal training needed to properly advise commanders on many of the Air Force's day-to-day operations around the world," he said.
Events to celebrate the anniversary included a dinner inviting leaders, donors and military retirees who took part in the planning and development of AFJAGS. Army retired Brig. Gen. Malinda Dunn was the guest lecturer at the fourth annual Maj. Gen. David C. Morehouse distinguished lecture series June 20.
Twenty years ago in May, Morehouse, the 10th judge advocate general of the Air Force, held the official dedication ceremony for the William L. Dickenson Law Center housing AFJAGS. Thus began the school's legacy of education at Maxwell as the educational home of the Air Force JAG Corps.
The Morehouse lectures honors his memory.
Dunn served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps for 28 years and is currently the executive director of the American Inns of Court Foundation.
Speaking on the relationship among the rule of law, professionalism and leadership, Dunn provided insight, inspiration and personal experiences from her time deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her examples showcased the essential characteristics law has on economic growth, foreign investments, citizens' confidence in government and "for everything else to function in a governing country," said Dunn.
She told the attorneys present that as leaders and "torch-bearers of the rule of law," they are given the utmost responsibility to protect liberties essential to a free society.
"It is the highest honor to lead in any context. It's not about us, it's about the difference we can make," said Dunn. "As lawyers our ultimate responsibility is to protect the principles of the rule of law."
"It is our responsibility," she added, "To uphold the profession of law and to ensure by our actions that the public respects the rule of law. We owe it to the profession, we owe it to the country and if we don't do it, who will do it? If we aren't keepers of the torch, who is?"
Dunn served as the first female staff judge advocate of the 82nd Airborne Division, the first female chief of personnel for the Army JAG Corps, the first female staff judge advocate for the 18th Airborne Corps and the first woman to become an active-duty general officer in the Army JAG Corps.
Originally established in 1950 as the Judge Advocate General Division of the Air Command and Staff School, the program began as a small 12-week course teaching 70 judge advocates, three times a year. Five years later it was moved to the United States Air Force Chaplain's School where it taught introductory training in military law.
Later, the school was moved under Air University's Institute for Professional Development, where its legal curriculum broadened into several different courses offered for judge advocates and paralegals. It was not until 1993 that the AFJAGS began its permanent residence on Maxwell's Academic Circle.
The school transferred from Air Education and Training Command to the Air Force Legal Operations Agency in 2006 and continues to add new courses to its curriculum, which now encompasses paralegal, deployed fiscal law and contingency contracting, area defense counsel and distance learning courses.
Today, AFJAGS instructs more than 3,000 students during 30 resident courses taught each year. Faculty also provides instruction to students attending the Air University schools.