History of the Army JAG Corps: 11 Cool Facts

The world can maintain a resemblance of sanity if laws are made and followed. The Army is no different. Laws and rules are there for a purpose, but they also must be enforced and punishments must be deemed when necessary.

There must be a system that is essentially “fair” and non-prejudicial. This is why the Army JAG Corps was developed. JAG stands for Judge Advocate General. The JAG Corps handles all matters of legal issues within the Army.

In today’s post, we are going to research 11 cool facts about the history of the Army JAG Corps.

1: When The JAG Corps Began

In July of 1775, the Commander of the Continental Army, George Washington founded the original United States Army JAG Corps.

2: First JAG Commander

William Tudor had graduated from Harvard and studied law under John Adams. When he joined the Continental Army, he gave legal advice to George Washington. Upon founding the JAG Corps, Washington appointed Tudor Judge Advocate and gave him the rank of Colonel. In August of 1776, Tudor was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and made Judge Advocate General making him the first Commander of JAG.

3: JAG Abolished

In 1802, many of the staffing positions within the Army were done away with. JAG Corps was abolished, and all legal issues were handled by the State Militias.

4: JAG Reestablished

In 1849 during the Presidency of Zachary Taylor, Congress reestablished the JAG Corps. President Taylor appointed John Fitzgerald Lee as the Judge Advocate General.

5: Officially A Corps

In 1862, the JAG Corps officially became a corps operation. Judge Advocates were appointed to the field under certain field commanders.

6: First JAG School

The first JAG School was established in 1942 at the University of Michigan. For a short time, the school was closed down after World War II, but in 1951 the school was reestablished at the University of Virginia. Before the JAG School started in Michigan, JAG Officers were trained at the National University Law School in Washington D.C.

7: Department of Defense

When the Department of Defense was started in 1947, one of the first priorities was the creation of a complete military criminal code. The JAG Corps had the responsibility of creating the code that the Department of Defense uses for all branches of the United States military.

8: UCMJ

In 1951, the Uniform Code of Military Justice went into effect. All JAG officials had to adapt their systems to this new system that actually creates a system of military justice that is quite similar to civilian law and justice standards. All who are a part of the JAG Corps must learn the UCMJ inside and out.

9: First Female Judge Advocate General

In September of 2013, the first female took command of JAG. Lieutenant General Flora Darpino became the Judge Advocate General which has a term of 4 years.

10: Qualifications To Enter JAG Corps

There are some stringent qualifications to enter the JAG Corps. Basically, the person must:

  1. Be a graduate of an ABA accredited law school and be admitted to the bar in their State or Federal.

  2. Complete a 6 week Direct Commission Course held at Fort Benning, Georgia.

  3. Complete 11 weeks of Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course held at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Enlisted soldiers can become paralegals with proper ASVAB scores, and a Secret Security Clearance.

11: Current JAG Leadership

The current leaders at JAG Corps are:

Judge Advocate General: Lieutenant General Flora D. Darpino

Deputy Judge Advocate General: Major General Thomas E. Ayres

Director of Soldier & Family Legal Services: Mr. Mortimer C. Shea, Jr.

Chief Warrant Officer Of The JAG Corps: Chief Warrant Officer Five James E. Steddum

Command Sergeant Major: Command Sergeant Major Joseph P. Lister

Final Thoughts

The JAG Corps is what keeps the Army running in a sane manner. No one likes courts of law, but they are needed and the JAG Corps is the ones who make sure the military courts run properly within Army and Department of Defense guidelines.

Here are some great links for more information on the JAG Corps:

If you are a member of the JAG Corps, we would love to hear your views and any other advice you may want to offer someone who desires to enter the JAG Corps.

If you have any questions or comments about the JAG Corps please post them in the comments area below this post. Thank you.

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