A Ten-Year Retrospective on the Law and the War on Terrorism: The Role of Army Reserve Citizen-Lawyers

By Beck, Gill P. | Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Spring-Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

A Ten-Year Retrospective on the Law and the War on Terrorism: The Role of Army Reserve Citizen-Lawyers


Beck, Gill P., Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law


I. INTRODUCTION

September 11, 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States and provides an appropriate occasion to reflect on our Nation's response. This article will focus on the response of U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) Judge Advocates, citizen-lawyers who have demonstrated their value as an integral part of the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps ("JAG Corps" or "JAGC"). They are "One team of proactive professional[s], forged by the warrior ethos, delivering principled counsel and mission-focused legal services to the Army and to our Nation." (1) In this article, I will discuss the role that USAR Judge Advocates have performed in the past decade, placing special emphasis on the role of company-grade Army Reserve Judge Advocates. I will argue that the future requires renewed emphasis on the development of agile and adaptive Army Reserve Judge Advocates who can leverage civilian legal skills and leadership abilities as part of One JAG Corps Team of professionals to meet our Nation's future challenges.

II. THE IMPACT OF 9/11

On September 10, 2011, a memorial ceremony was held in Albany, New York, for Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) William Pohlmann, an Army Reserve Judge Advocate assigned to the 4th Legal Support Organization, USAR, who, on September 11, 2001, was on the seventy-ninth floor of the World Trade Center's South Tower when terrorists attacked America by flying aircraft into the World Trade Center. (2) Although ten years had passed since the loss of LTC Pohlmann, the pain his family felt was as palpable during the memorial ceremony as if their loss had occurred the day before. Members of the Pohlmann family related the following events:

On September 11, 2001, not long after 8:46 a.m., when terrorists crashed American Airline Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, LTC Pohlmann called his wife, Linda Pohlmann, to say that he was "OK." Within minutes, LTC Pohlmann's son Chris, who worked on Wall Street, called to check on his father. After reassuring his son that he was "OK," LTC Pohlmann again called his wife but before they could renew their conversation, at 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 struck the World Tower Center's South Tower killing LTC Pohlmann.

Shortly after 10:00 a.m., Chris Pohlmann called his brother Darren Pohlmann, who reported that he had been in the vicinity of the Pentagon shortly after 9:37 a.m. when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. At that moment Chris Pohlmann thought to himself that "[t]he gates of hell had opened." He later said that "[t]he hardest thing to do was to look back at Ground Zero and see the smoke and know that your dad could still be there." (3)

III. THE RESPONSE TO 9/11

President Obama has said that "[l]ike every American, I'll never forget how I heard the terrible news...." (4) Like all Americans who are parents, he recounted the difficulty of telling his children about the 9/11 terrorist attacks but said "[o]ne of the things we've told them is that the worst attack in American history also brought out the best in our country." (5) This article will address how the worst attack on America brought out the best in our uniformed USAR Judge Advocates, citizen-lawyers who, during the past decade, have served with distinction while mobilized in the United States and deployed throughout the world. This article cannot do justice to the incredible contributions of the entire JAG Corps--Active Component, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve--nor to all of the dedicated paralegals, civilian personnel, and legal administrators. Instead, this article will focus on the leadership provided by Army Reserve company-grade officers, who have time and time again excelled as highly skilled legal practitioners and leaders.

Since 9/11, the Army JAG Corps, under the strong leadership of The Judge Advocate General, (6) has successfully adapted to the requirements of a demanding operational environment.

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