Legal Quandary

Monday, December 03, 2007

LQ Answers More Questions!

JAG-To-Be posted the following question:

Deployment seems to be volunteer-centered, so how do JAGs become aware of the opportunities to deploy? Is it simply word of mouth or does the Judge Advocate General handpick who he presents the opportunities to? Also, I am wondering what you know about deployments to the Middle East.

I don't know that I would say that deployments are totally volunteer-centered, although there are some deployments which you can volunteer for. The way things typically work is that once you arrive at a base, you'll be assigned to an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) number. Basically, the AEF is a concept that came about approximately 8 years ago when the Air Force realized that its folks were deploying pretty regularly, and hey, wouldn't it be cool if they could give their folks some sort of advance warning and predictability? And voila - the AEF system. Essentially everyone who is on "Mobility" status (more or less anyone without serious health issues) is assigned to an AEF "bucket." So, let's say you're in the current AEF - this means if any taskings come down during the 3 month window of the AEF, your name is in the hat for the opportunity to go. The great thing about the AEF system is that many of the taskings are made well in advance, so you're able to plan. It also helps that you generally know your AEF from the first month or so that you're on base - so there's really no reason not to be prepared. This isn't to say that the system is perfect. Things happen. People get sick, break legs, get pregnant, etc., so sometimes people who weren't assigned to a particular bucket wind up getting tasked. OR the mission changes and where we planned for say, 10 people, for a bucket, we end up needing 25...and people who weren't assigned wind up getting tasked. And sometimes the Air Force will take over another service's tasking. Any way you look at it though - it's definitely better than the old willy nilly system the AF used to have.

With regard to your question on how one becomes aware of opportunities to deploy, there are several different ways this can happen. As I mentioned, the AEF planners will know how many people and what skill sets they'll need to meet the requirements for the upcoming AEF. They'll match these up against the names of the people assigned to that particular AEF. In an ideal world, these will all match up, but sometimes they might need more people with, say, Military Justice backgrounds, and another time they'll want folks with contracting backgrounds. In those situations, the word might go out through the various headquarters channels that certain skill sets are needed and/or you might see it posted on the JAG Corps website that volunteers are needed. Also, sometimes your base Staff Judge Advocate might get a call directly asking either for a particular person by-name, or for a Captain with x number of years of experience. At that point your SJA may ask for volunteers or come up with the short list and handpick someone to go. (Word to the wise - it's almost always better to volunteer than to be "voluntold." If you hear about a deployment you think would be cool - or at least cooler than some others - by all means volunteer!)

And yes, to a certain extent TJAG does personally manage some deployments.

I don't have any personal experience with Middle East deployments...yet. That said, I know several people (JAGs and non-JAGs) who have been, are, or will be deployed to various locations. Although I think that most of them would say it was hard work at the time, as well as a valuable experience, a lot depends on both the location and the job itself, so it's hard to make any sort of generalization about what to expect.

Keep the questions coming - the more you ask, the more I write!

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