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Day 15: Admin and Civil Law - 167% Pure Adrenaline

February 23, 2011 | Captain Thomas Harper

With the introductory stuff out of the way, today marked the first full day of class. 

     Before I get into today’s happenings, I completely forgot to mention a major event yesterday, which was the faculty icebreaker.  Once we were finished the last class of the day, we headed up to the 5th floor to get acquainted with our faculty advisors.  Each advisor has about 3-4 JAOBC students, and I managed to not write down my sponsor’s name before coming upstairs.  I also forgot that we were supposed to meet up with advisors, so I tried floating around to different groups where faculty members were standing.  After thoroughly confusing a couple advisors as to why in the world I was standing there, I ran downstairs to copy down my advisor’s name.  After getting that mishap ironed out, I had a great conversation with my advisor, who teaches criminal law to JAOBC classes.  She was incredibly nice, and I can tell she’ll be a huge asset moving forward.

     Now that my most recent blog error has been straightened out, we can finally move into the present.  As I mentioned in the last post, Wednesdays are reserved for road marches or recovery days.  Today was the class’ first road march, which was for all of two miles.  The main objective was to get everyone used to the concept of spacing as well as marching with gear on.  C-Ville is a much different place to do these sorts of things than Ft. Lee (in terms of vehicles being all over the place), so our road guards stayed busy. 

     As active as the JAG school is around campus and town, I thought drivers would be a little more aware and respectful of formations, but (for the most part) I was wrong.  Cars sped by, nearly ignored road guards, and generally posed a bigger threat than those on post (which know to slow down to 5mph when passing troops).  The gold medal winner was the man who was stopped by a road guard, rolled down his window, and started loudly protesting that he had to be at work in 20-minutes.  Everyone made it back in one piece, and we generally kept the formation spaced well, which was encouraging.

     Our first block of instruction is in administrative and civil law, which was like having an IV of caffeine, 5-hour energy, and human adrenaline hooked into you.  Factitiousness aside, the instructors did a great job of taking important, but potentially dry subject matter, and making it engaging and interesting.  The first class involved standards of conduct, which included a long talk on gifts.  It sounds boring, but with tons of things out there such as military discounts, gifts for departing commanders, etc, it was really useful information. 

(I was approximately this amped up after today's block of instruction.)

     Next came administrative investigations, which marked my first time feeling overwhelmed with information.  It might seem like three months is plenty of time to impart information, but judging by today, that’s about as far from the truth as possible.  The instructors have been great about making grading and exam expectations clear: if today is any indicator, they’re clear about what information must be focused on, and which information isn’t examinable.  The investigations material was really interesting, considering often they occur in regular practice. The rest of the day followed a similar pattern, with a 2-hour block on the freedom of information act and privacy act. 

     With all of the information being thrown at us, one thing was made clear: Even though we may not know everything, we’re expected to be experts in our field.  Other soldiers and officers see JAG attorneys as officers with more schooling than nearly anyone else, and as the go-to for all things legal.  It’s an intimidating fact, but one that I think will help me keep a little more focused on trying to absorb as much information as possible.

     Once class let out, I made my way over to the UVA gym, and made up my mind that I’ll be joining it once our first paycheck comes in early next week.  Tomorrow morning will come early, and will mark my first day with my PT group.  Group 1 consists of the faster runners, and I’m just hoping to keep up.  Our group leader has already posted the next two weeks worth of workouts, and although it’s good to know exactly what’s coming, it’s definitely looking pretty intense.

Nothing to do but dive in headfirst and drink the Kool-Aid, I suppose.

("Ohhh yeeahhhh! Time for a fast enough run to make you hurl right out of the starting gate!!")


  • Emily
    2/24/2011 5:43 PM
    I just wanted to say thank you for the time you put into your posts. I've been reading them since the beginning. I know that if I get into Army JAG (applying for my first board this March), they will be invaluable. I'm sure there are many other people who read your blog but never comment, but are just as thankful as I am. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures at JAOBC.

    Oh, and love the pictures. :)
    • LT Harper
      2/24/2011 6:11 PM
      Thanks for the compliments! It's definitely good to hear from people that read it and haven't been completely turned off by my miserable writing or weak attempts at humor. Good luck with the board, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions going forward.
  • John Smith
    7/16/2011 11:41 AM
    Enjoying your blog. I have a son-in-law who just started the July4 course and I feel like I can follow his progress as he goes through the classes. I served in the 60's and remember how a group of young men can come together and form a tight group and get the Job done. My son-in-law's name is Maj. Mike Lipking. He just arrived in UVA last weekend. I sure your path's will cross.
    Good Luck with your army career.

    Former 3ed class petty officer USN Patrol Squadron 50

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