The United States Army is rich in tradition. Among others, the change of command is particularly impressive. All the troops standing on line and then marching in review. By the time you place an entire brigade on line your eyes will be really, really big.
Well, change of command requires a commander and we in the JAG Corps have very few. The last time I checked, The Judge Advocate General, the Commandant of the School and the Chief of the Claims Office were our only commanders. So staff judge advocates, in charge of offices on post had no change of command. This led me to write the following article back in 1982 as I was getting ready to deploy for my next assignment.
Judge is a Short-timer (April 9, 1982)
Guess what? I’m a two-digit midget. Yep, after three great years here at Fort Riley, I’m going to check out in the middle of July.
A couple of people have asked me if the Staff Judge Advocate has a change of command. I’m not a commander, so that means no parade, no band and no little munchies afterwards.
Now when the Adjutant General moved on, he had a change of stewardship (whatever that means). But, of course, he had the 1st AG company to stand tall. Maybe my last official act here will be to submit a suggestion to the Suggestion Awards Program recommending the creation of the 1st JAG Company.
Just because we don’t command or know what stewardship means doesn’t mean we won’t have a ceremony. At my last assignment (in the Puzzle Palace), each chief in our office used a different colored ink. The division chief used green, the deputy used red and the branch chiefs used blue. The actions officers wrote their draft opinions in black. This was necessary when four attorneys were all correcting the same draft legal opinion. You only had to know which ink outranked which.
A poorly drafted opinion would come back to the drafter looking like a Christmas tree. Anyway, when I moved up from branch chief to deputy, the deputy bundled up all of his red government pens in a rubber band and presented them to me. I was moved.
The ceremony we have planned here at Fort Riley will be held in our crowded little law library. The entire office will attend, each bringing their own jelly donut in a small brown paper bag. We have selected 200 Supreme Court cases. The ceremony begins when I stand up and begin to read the first case. I will continue reading case after case until I become exhausted and collapse. At the time the new SJA takes over and it is done. Then everyone can eat their jelly donut
I forgot to mention that I am entitled to receive assistance from members of my office. While I am reading, should I begin to doze off, they can all rattle their paper bags to revive me. Whether they actually will assist me may depend upon how hungry they are.
This column should satisfy even the hard to convince that I have never let the absence of quality nor the lack of a topic stand in the way of meeting a deadline.
Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com