Today's operations take place in an increasingly legalistic environment under close scrutiny of the public and press. This environment mandates proactive attention to challenges and opportunities in every aspect of the legal fields of practice. Commanders have found that judge advocates and paralegals offer far more than merely legal counsel. They combine their knowledge of the law with operational expertise to enhance warfighting capabilities and assist commanders and staffs during the decision making and planning processes. They have also served as effective negotiators, spokespersons, writers, and liaisons to host-nation officials and nongovernmental organizations and agencies.
History demonstrates that Air Force judge advocates and paralegals are essential members of the airman's warfighting team. They provide legal support during all phases of Air Force operations. In 1946, when General Carl "Tooey" Spaatz testified before Congress about the creation of a separate Air Force, he carried a strongly supportive legal opinion signed by the Air Judge Advocate. Judge advocates accompanied units of the newly formed United States Air Force to Korea. Later, many judge advocates and paralegals served in Southeast Asia.
During Operation JUST CAUSE, judge advocates were for the first time at the very heart of theater-level combat planning and execution. Throughout Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, a judge advocate was part of the now-famous "Black Hole" planning cell. Judge advocates and paralegals were assigned to other units throughout the theater. In 1991, Lieutenant General Michael A. Nelson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, and Major General David C. Morehouse, The Judge Advocate General, jointly signed a letter stating, "We cannot afford to wait for war to bring judge advocates into the operations and planning environment. We need to work together all the time so that we all understand how and why the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) must be an essential element of our mission." Over the past decade judge advocates and paralegals have been actively involved in a wide-range of contingency operations and exercises to include Operations NORTHERN WATCH, SOUTHERN WATCH, ENDURING FREEDOM, NOBLE EAGLE (ONE), and IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF).
This publication describes the role of legal support to Air Force operations in the 21st Century. We must constantly debate and refine the lessons of history to ensure Air Force legal support doctrine continues to serve tomorrow's airmen.
Contents: Chapter One - The Nature Of Legal Support * Chapter Two - Legal Support For Air Force Operations * Chapter Three - Legal Support For Rules Of Engagement (Roe) * Chapter Four - Legal Support To The Air And Space Operations Center * Chapter Five - Role Of Legal Support In Operational Readiness