Chicago Journal of International Law


Cicero said, "silent enim leges inter arma," which means in times of war the law falls silent. A judge advocate's primary mission is to prevent this from occurring. To accomplish this objective, the judge advocate performs a variety of functions including participating in the development of the operational plan, drafting rules of engagement ("ROE"), and reviewing target nominations. Inevitably, the operational law attorney faces unique and challenging legal issues that surface during conflict and require immediate resolution. Furthermore, the judge advocate often must provide legal guidance to soldiers on the ground while strategic policy decisions are being debated and finalized. I have been assigned to the Coalition Forces Land Component Command ("CFLCC") since July 2001. After September 11, 2001, CFLCC became responsible for land operations in Afghanistan against al Qaeda and the Taliban during Operation Enduring Freedom ("OEF"). Concurrently, CFLCC began planning Operation Iraqi Freedom ("OIF"). When I arrived at CFLCC, I had recently returned from a deployment to Bosnia, and I anticipated a relaxed, slower paced position as a contract attorney at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Instead, since September 12, 2001, I have spent the majority of my days in the Middle East participating in two high-tempo military campaigns. In this article, I will describe in broad-brush strokes rather than in fine detail my role as a judge advocate during OEF and OIF while discussing the most poignant and interesting legal issues.