The Year in Review: 2014 Posts

Monthly Archives: December 2014

Cyber War Law and Ethics for Virtual Conflicts

Posted on December 25, 2014

Edited by Claire Finkelstein, Jens David Ohlin, and Kevin Govern

Explores the controversial legal and ethical problems raised by cyber war, critically assessing the received wisdom about its legal implications
Examines the complex questions of which legal regimes apply to cyber attacks, whether principles of humanitarian law work in cyber warfare situations, and how these principles can be translated into the operational reality
Provides an unique analysis of the foundational questions of the legality and morality of cyber warfare
Contributions from a wide range of experts in the field.

$49.95 Paperback

This item is not yet published. It is available for pre-orders and will ship on 19 April 2015

360 Pages 9.2 x 6.1 inches ISBN: 9780198717508


$185.00 Hardcover

This item is not yet published. It is available for pre-orders and will ship on 19 April 2015

360 Pages 9.2 x 6.1 inches ISBN: 9780198717492


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Announcing A New Initiative And Website On Issues Of Legitimacy And Faith

Posted on December 12, 2014

From the Jesus Meets Muhammad About Link:
“Religion is the primary source of those standards of legitimacy that define what we consider to be right and wrong, and in an increasingly pluralistic world in which most people identify as either Christians or Muslims, conflicting standards of legitimacy can lead to religious hatred and violence. (See the Introduction to the J&M Book)

This website presents topics for discussion on issues of legitimacy that are related to the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad. But those ancient teachings did not address critical issues of national sovereignty, just war, democracy and fundamental human rights in our time and place.  That requires that we apply the moral imperative to love God and our neighbors—even our unbelieving neighbors—as a governing principle of legitimacy.  It is a common word of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims, and when reason is used to apply that principle of faith to contemporary issues of legitimacy it enables us to reconcile our religious differences.

Reason requires that people of faith distinguish between voluntary moral standards and obligatory religious laws that are imposed on others.  That is because freedom of religion and expression require that religious standards of belief and behavior be entirely voluntary, in contrast to Islamic regimes that deny freedom with blasphemy and apostasy laws.

This website promotes the premise that both Jesus and Muhammad would support libertarian democracy as a means of loving God and neighbor, and have their followers use reason to conform their ancient holy laws to modern standards of legitimacy, leaving obligatory and coercive laws to elected lawmakers—not to God.

The J&M Book and other resources on this website can help Christians and Muslims better understand their differences and find the common ground needed to reconcile religious differences in a world of diverse and conflicting religious beliefs.

We welome your comments and suggestions on our blog.”

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Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) Biannial Report 2012-2014

Posted on November 25, 2014


Open publication – Free publishing

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Summer Internship Program 2015 Overview

Posted on November 22, 2014

Summer Internship Program 2015

The Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL) is accepting applications for the Center’s 2015 Summer Internship Program. The program aims to increase students’ theoretical and practical understanding of work towards preservation of rule of law values in the face of the changing nature of warfare. Interns in the program will work as a team under the supervision of CERL’s leadership, and will participate in CERL’s activities to the greatest extent possible. They will engage, inter alia, in research on issues of national security law and policy, preparation of CERL’s forthcoming academic publications: “Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority” and “The Weighing of Lives in War; Combatants and Civilians in the Jus in Bello”, planning and organization of CERL’s conferences, managing and updating CERL’s website, and drafting of position statements to Congress and other governmental or private institutions.

Application Process

Law students, as well as graduate students from other disciplines related to CERL’s mission interested in examining the intersection of rule of law values, applied ethics, national security or the law and morality of war are encouraged to apply. Applicants will be required to submit a cover letter, resume, and names of two referees. Potential candidates for the program will be scheduled for interviews (through phone or in person), and offers of internship will be extended to six selected candidates. The internships program will last eight weeks, from June 1, 2015 to July 27, 2015. Applications for the Summer Internship Program will be processed on a rolling basis and may be submitted until January 20, 2015 to the email

Goals and Benefits of the Summer Internship Program

The Summer Internship Program is a part of CERL’s commitment to produce the next generation of ethical and legal scholars for preservation and promotion of rule of law values. CERL does not provide funding for the Summer Internship Program, however, students will be given academic credit for their full attendance during the program and successful completion of the program’s requirements. Students may also receive supervision on a paper in the area relevant to CERL’s mission or conferences. In addition, CERL will hold weekly lunches for the students, the majority of which will be attended by prominent guest speakers from the academia, military, government or the private sector (either in person or via Skype). These meetings will be dedicated to discussing the recent developments in national security law and policy, and the work in progress of the students writing academic papers.

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The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems

Posted on November 22, 2014


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Fall 2014 Reintroduction of Allied Ground Troops Into Iraq

Posted on November 10, 2014

Mon 10 Nov 2014, 7:35am

Australian special forces soldiers had been waiting in United Arab Emirates for deployment to Iraq. (Supplied: Defence Force)

Australian special forces troops moving into Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirms at APEC

ABC Online‎ – 10 NOV 14

Australian special forces are moving into Iraq to advise the country’s military in its fight …

Obama On Iraq: “Now What We Need Is Ground Troops”

In an interview with CBS on Face the Nation, the President refused to rule out sending greater numbers of troops to Iraq, and even admitted the need for boots on the ground.

Obama called the decision, announced Friday, to double the number of “US military advisers” in Iraq “a new phase” in the campaign, denying that the original strategy to combat the IS terror group had been inadequate.

“The air strikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL’s capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making,” Obama said. “Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back.”

Obama confident US troop surge in Iraq will put coalition on offensive

The Guardian – 9 NOV 14

  • President: new troops will focus on training local forces to fight Isis
  • Comments draw emerging parallel to past US military strategy in Iraq

Jury Finds Blackwater Guards Guilty of Iraq Shootings

Posted on October 25, 2014

U.S. News

Jury Finds Blackwater Guards Guilty of Iraq Shootings

Four Former Security Guards Had Claimed Self-Defense in Shootings of 14 Iraqis in 2007

Former Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten was found guilty of murder on Wednesday. Associated Press


Andrew Grossman

Updated Oct. 22, 2014 3:25 p.m. ET


WASHINGTON—A federal jury Wednesday convicted four former Blackwater USA private security guards in the shooting deaths of 14 Iraqis in a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, closing a chapter in a saga that complicated U.S.-Iraq relations.

The guards were convicted on nearly every one of the 32 charges they faced. Nicholas Slatten, a sniper who prosecutors said started the shooting, was convicted of murder. Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempting to commit voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges.

The jury didn’t reach a verdict on three of the charges against Mr. Heard, but his conviction on other charges would likely still result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Mr. Slatten faces a life sentence for the murder charge while the three defendants convicted on manslaughter charges could face at least three decades in prison.

The four defendants were largely motionless as the charges were read. Lawyers for Messrs. Heard and Liberty said they plan to appeal.

See also:


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Mending Alliance, U.S. and Afghanistan Sign Long-Term Security Agreement

Posted on October 2, 2014

Mending Alliance, U.S. and Afghanistan Sign Long-Term Security Agreement

Ambassador James Cunningham, left, with the Afghan national security adviser, Hanif Atmar.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
KABUL, Afghanistan — American and Afghan officials signed a long-term security pact here on Tuesday, nearly a year after the agreement was cast into limbo by a breakdown of trust at the highest levels of each allied government.

See also:

Govern, Kevin H., Warrant Based Targeting: Prosecution-Oriented Capture and Detention as Legal and Moral Alternatives to Targeted Killing. Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol. 29, No. 3, (2012) (published 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Govern, Kevin H., The ‘Great Game’ & the US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement (May 22, 2012). JURIST Forum, May 2012 . Available at SSRN:

Govern, Kevin H., Right to Peace or Human Rights Per Se in Islamic States (March 13, 2013). Ave Maria Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 103, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Govern, Kevin H., Resigned to Failure or Committed to a Just Cause of Justice? The Matthew Hoh Resignation, Our Current Politico-Military Strategy in Afghanistan, and Lessons Learned from the Panama Intervention of Twenty Years Ago (January 1, 2011). Oregon Review of International Law Vol. 13, 161. Available at SSRN:

Official 9/11 Memorial Museum Tribute In Time-Lapse 2004-2014

Posted on September 11, 2014

Official 9/11 Memorial Museum Tribute In Time-Lapse 2004-2014

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Military Firearms in Ferguson and Beyond: Arms Transfers to Civilian Law Enforcement Under the ‘1033 Program’

Posted on September 4, 2014

ForumOp-eds on legal news by law professors and JURIST special guests

Military Firearms in Ferguson and Beyond: Arms Transfers to Civilian Law Enforcement Under the ‘1033 Program’

Wednesday 3 September 2014 at 7:00 PM ET edited by Kenneth Hall

JURIST Guest Columnist Kevin Govern of Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida, discusses the Department of Defense Excess Property Program—commonly known as the ‘1033 Program’—under scrutiny for the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and concludes that this will result in stricter delineations concerning military cooperation than ever before…

©  WikiMedia (user)


Last year, JURIST highlighted the notable subject of the Defense Support for Civil Authorities [PDF], in the context of man-made and natural disasters. A variety of historic laws and policies are the foundations for providing defense support to civilian authorities. One law garnering very little public scrutiny before the Fall of 2014—but tremendous media coverage since—is the Department of Defense Excess Property Program, commonly referred to as the ‘1033 Program.’ The ‘1033 Program’ is primarily oriented towards counter-drug activities, but sometimes leads to very different capabilities and employments.

Section 1208 of The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1990, allowed the Secretary of Defense to:

[T]ransfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is– (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.”

The law further provided that:

2) The Secretary shall carry out this section in consultation with the Attorney General and the Director of National Drug Control Policy.
(b) Conditions for Transfer-The Secretary of Defense may transfer personal property under this section only if-
(1) the property is drawn from existing stocks of the Department of Defense;
(2) the recipient accepts the property on an as-is, where-is basis;
(3) the transfer is made without the expenditure of any funds available to the Department of Defense for the procurement of defense equipment; and
(4) all costs incurred subsequent to the transfer of the property are borne or reimbursed by the recipient.

In 1996, Congress replaced Section 1208 with Section 1033 that subsequently became Section 2576a, yet is still colloquially called the ‘1033 Program’ through the present.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) notes that “[s]ince its inception, the ‘1033 Program’ has transferred more than $5.1 billion worth of property. In 2013 alone, $449,309,003.71 worth of property was transferred to law enforcement.” As part of its outreach to civilian agencies, the DLA predicted that, “[i]f your law enforcement agency chooses to participate, it may become one of the more than 8,000 participating agencies to increase its capabilities, expand its patrol coverage, reduce response times and save the American taxpayer’s investment.

Critics of the program, such as the ACLU, have remarked that “a disturbing range of military gear [is] being transferred to civilian police departments nationwide” and allege that “one-third of all war materiel parceled out to state, local and tribal police agencies is brand new.”

Accountability problems are also surfacing as 184 state and local police agencies have been reportedly suspended from participating in the Pentagon’s ‘1033 Program’ for losing weapons or failing to comply with other stipulations. Notably, on August 26th the nationally-known sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, admitted that his department had been suspended from the program and is currently missing nine firearms—eight .45-caliber pistols and one M-16 rifle—issued to the agency out of 200 weapons from the surplus program. Twenty to 22 of the weapons vanished over the years, but roughly half were recovered from retired or current deputies who, incredibly, took them home. Under the ‘1033 Program,’ the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office amassed an arsenal of “a Hummer, a tank, 90 M-16 rifles, 116 .45-caliber pistols, 34 M-14 rifles and three helicopters.”

This ‘1033 Program,’ coupled with National Guard troops deployment to Ferguson, Missouri, became the subject of critical medial focus in August 2014. Following the police shooting of the teenager Mike Brown, the Ferguson Police Department responded to protests and riots with a robust show of force, using gear that one media outlet documented as not obtained through the ‘1033 Program’, yet others speculated to the contrary.

In response to calls for a ‘demilitarization’ of civilian police forces, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said “[a]t a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community…I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message.”

On Friday, August 15th, Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin (D-MI) called for a review of the so-called ‘1033 Program,’ saying:

Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals. We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents. Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended.

Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, also announced she will lead a hearing, observing that:

We need to de-militarize this situation—this kind of response by the police has become the problem instead of the solution. I obviously respect law enforcement’s work to provide public safety, but my constituents are allowed to have peaceful protests and the police need to respect that right and protect that right. Today is going to be a new start, we can and need to do better.

Shortly thereafter, President Obama ordered a “comprehensive review of the government’s decade-old strategy of outfitting local police departments with military-grade body armor, mine-resistant trucks, silencers and automatic rifles,” according to media interviews of senior officials.

Early on August 21st, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced that the National Guard—which was brought in to provide security for the police command center—would be withdrawn from Ferguson; this withdrawal began the next day, some five days after being dispatched to help “quell the unrest” and four days before the burial of Michael Brown.

These recent developments—along with Congressional review of the surplus Department of Defense military equipment program—will lead to even stricter delineations than ever before regarding military cooperation with civil authorities, while still focusing on preparation, partnerships and vigilance.

Kevin Govern is an associate professor at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida where he teaches military law, national security law, administrative law, directed research and contracts I and II. Professor Govern began his legal career as an Army Judge Advocate, serving 20 years at every echelon during peacetime and war in worldwide assignments involving every legal discipline. In addition to currently teaching at Ave Maria School of Law he has also served as an Assistant Professor of Law at the United States Military Academy and teaches at California University of Pennsylvania and John Jay College. Unless otherwise attributed, the conclusions and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the US Government, Department of Defense, or Ave Maria School of Law.

Suggested Citation: Kevin Govern, Military Firearms in Ferguson and Beyond: Arms Transfers to Civilian Law Enforcement Under The 1033 Program, JURIST – Forum, Sept. 3, 2014,

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The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems

Posted on September 1, 2014

Upcoming Events

November 21-22, 2014

The Ethics of Autonomous Weapons Systems

Autonomous Weapons Systems (AWS) are defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as “a weapon system(s) that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human operator.” Since the crucial distinguishing mark of human reasoning is the capacity to set ends and goals, the AWS suggests for the first time the possibility of eliminating the human operator from the battlefield. The development of AWS technology on a broad scale, therefore, represents the potential for a transformation in the structure of war that is qualitatively different from previous military technological innovations.

The idea of fully autonomous weapons systems raises a host of intersecting philosophical and psychological issues, as well as unique legal challenges. For example, it sharply raises the question of whether moral decision-making by human beings involves an intuitive, non-algorithmic capacity that is not likely to be captured by even the most sophisticated of computers?  Is this intuitive moral perceptiveness on the part of human beings ethically desirable? Does the legitimate exercise of deadly force should always require a “meaningful human control?” Should the very definition of AWS focus on the system’s capabilities for autonomous target selection and engagement, or on the human operator’s use of such capabilities?  Who, if anyone, should bear the legal liability for decisions the AWS makes?  The purpose of this conference is to address such questions by bringing together distinguished scholars and practitioners from various fields, to engage in constructive discussion and exploration of the moral and legal challenges posed by Autonomous Weapons Systems.

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Reinforcing the Rule of Law and Human Rights in Mexico Through U.S. Special Operations Forces Missions

Posted on July 13, 2014

Reinforcing the Rule of Law and Human Rights in Mexico Through U.S. Special Operations Forces Missions

This article will assess the roles and responsibilities of Special Operations Forces (SOF) within Mexico, as an active proponent of a so-called smart power national security strategy. In particular, it will outline the economic, political, and military challenges faced in Mexico, and specifically how and why SOF, under the new Special Operations Command Northern Command (SOCNORTH), should become the U.S. force of choice for promoting the rule of law and human rights in Mexico. With the goals of the U.S. military in mind, questions will necessarily arise as to what success looks like for both the United States and Mexico and the roles of each in joint and combined civil-military initiatives. Concluding comments reflect on how these forces must model what right looks like, and the imperative that SOF operations in Mexico meet legal and doctrinal criteria for successful mission accomplishment.

SOCNORTH Assumption of Command Nov. 5, 2013

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National Security Agency (NSA) Surveillance Under 215 of the PATRIOT Act

Posted on July 5, 2014


The Military Legitimacy Review (MLR) is pleased to recognize  University of Pennsylvania Law School (UPenn Law) Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law Research Fellow Ashling Gallagher’s work entitled:

NSA Surveillance Under 215 of the PATRIOT Act


Military Legitimacy Review Award 2014 Announcement

Posted on June 3, 2014


The Military Legitimacy Review (MLR) is pleased to announce that the Barnes Wall Foundation of South Carolina, after careful consideration and deliberation, has selected for its 2014 Military Legitimacy Review Award University of Pennsylvania Law School (UPenn Law) Class of 2015 Juris Doctor Candidate Jon Todd’s work entitled:

Rewriting the AUMF – Bringing Guidance to Executive Decisions on Combatancy and Returning the U.S to the Path of the War Convention


The Barnes Wall Foundation, through the efforts of the MLR and also from recommendations of service academy, university and law faculty professors, sought nominations for this award amongst many deserving student-candidates. Mister Todd was a scholar examining Just War Theory at UPenn Law when he completed this superb and presciently timely work regarding the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from the perspectives of expanded understanding of combatancy in international law and a respect for the longstanding principle of distinction.

The award includes publication in MLR as well as a monetary prize ($500.00).

This award is not intended to recognize a paper for academic credit in an independent study, but an award for the best paper in a class or group of 3 or more. The topic and paper should relate to legal and moral issues in military operations and/or strategy (e.g. democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and religion/cultural issues), with the winning paper being posted with the author’s permission on the Military Legitimacy Review (MLR) website at http://

With this award a new cycle for 2015 begins, with submissions solicited for the next year’s competition encouraged and accepted through April 7th, 2015. For additional details please contact the Editor in Chief of the MLR, Professor of Law Kevin Govern, via info@ and / or for additional details.



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Military Scholarship Award 2014 Announcement

Posted on June 3, 2014


The Military Legitimacy Review (MLR) is pleased to announce that the Barnes Wall Foundation of South Carolina, after careful consideration and deliberation, has selected for its 2014 Military Scholarship award United States Military Academy (USMA) Class of 2016 Cadet Anna L. Gulbis’ work entitled:


The Barnes Wall Foundation, through the efforts of the MLR and also from recommendations of service academy, university and law faculty professors, sought nominations for this award amongst many deserving student-candidates. Cadet Gulbis was a scholar examining Special Topics In Just War Theory at USMA when she completed this superb and presciently timely work regarding armed humanitarian intervention and the principle of the Responsibility to Protect from the perspectives of United States national security.

The award includes publication in MLR as well as a monetary prize ($250.00) given in this inaugural year of competition for military scholars and those pursuing a career in uniformed service for having written the best paper on a topic related to military legitimacy.

This award is not intended to recognize a paper for academic credit in an independent study, but an award for the best paper in a class or group of 3 or more. The topic and paper should relate to legal and moral issues in military operations and/or strategy (e.g. democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and religion/cultural issues), with the winning paper being posted with the author’s permission on the Military Legitimacy Review (MLR) website at http://

With this award a new cycle for 2015 begins, with submissions solicited for the next year’s competition encouraged and accepted through April 7th, 2015. For additional details please contact the Editor in Chief of the MLR, Professor of Law Kevin Govern, via info@ and / or for additional details.

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Civil Affairs: The Army’s hottest job is hiring now

Posted on June 3, 2014

Civil Affairs: The Army’s hottest job is hiring now
Jun. 1, 2014 – 06:00AM
1st Lt. Benjamin Riley, right, a civil affairs officer, meets a villager during a patrol to the Arghandab River, Afghanistan. The Army is looking to bolster its civil affairs ranks. (Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras / Air Force)


By Joe Gould
Staff writer
Related Links

  • Switching to Civil Affairs brings fast promotion, big bucks

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The Army is looking to bolster its cadre of “warrior diplomats” by adding hundreds of enlisted soldiers and officers. To entice applicants, the service is touting big bonuses, instant promotions, high job satisfaction and assignments all over the world.

Combined, these perks arguably make Civil Affairs the hottest job in the Army today and one that will set you up for a long career in uniform.

Although the active force continues to shed thousands of soldiers, Civil Affairs estimates adding nearly 250 enlisted and 150 officers annually over the next several years.

“We are looking for people who are intelligent, have high physical fitness and endurance, strong character, good interpersonal skills,” said Civil Affairs branch commandant Col. James Wolff. “We’re not an ‘engage from 2,000 meters’ unit, we’re face to face.”

Active-duty Civil Affairs troops are conducting peacetime operations in more than 40 countries. In small, four-person civil affairs teams — made up of a captain and three noncommissioned officers — they work with civilian agencies and organizations in a low-profile way, leveraging soft power to quietly strengthen and stabilize friendly governments, while fending off destabilizing groups.

You may find yourself building cyclone shelters in Bangladesh, teaching civil-military operations in Africa, supporting military field clinics in the Philippines, supporting security operations in Colombia, or assisting the country of Georgia as it builds a Walter Reed-style amputee care program for vets.

For qualified candidates, Civil Affairs’ growth over the last decade equals opportunity. The demand for Civil Affairs NCOs is so high the Army is offering bonuses of more than $70,000 for mid-grade as well as retirement-eligible NCOs. Language proficiency can significantly increase a soldier’s re-enlistment bonus and mean up to $400 per month in language pay.

Growth has fueled high promotion rates, meaning Civil Affairs must continuously replenish the ranks of its NCOs.

“We have one of the highest promotion rates in the Army for our NCOs, and our officers remain above the Army average,” Wolff said.

Civil Affairs has only existed as a branch since 2007, growing from a functional area into a military occupational specialty (38B) and an active-duty regiment with two brigades. The 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) under Army Special Operations Command, and the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade under Army Forces Command each supply five regionally aligned battalions.

While the Reserve component continues to play a pivotal role, the active component’s share of Civil Affairs troops has grown from four percent to 30 percent over the last decade or so. With two wars raging, the high op tempo required Civil Affairs to expand and the active component to absorb more of the mission from the Reserve — which at one point transformed field artillery units into Civil Affairs.

“The Reserve component was hit hard by two wars going at the same time, and … a lot of reservists went back again and again and again,” Wolff said. “We’re really rebuilding our force structure to meet the demands of the nation.”

More than money and promotion potential, civil affairs leaders say the unique mission is the most compelling reason to join. In civilian clothes and with their weapons holstered, teams can deploy anywhere in the world for four- to eight-month missions. Within 24 hours of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) sent in five teams from across U.S. Southern Command.

“My medic in the 95th delivered two babies in Haiti, so it’s incredibly rich as far as operational experiences go,” said Capt. John Toll, who supervises civil affairs assessment and selection.

According to Wolff, it has the highest retention rates and one of the lowest officer loss rates of any career field.

“When people get here and do the job, they love it,” he said.

Inside civil affairs

The teams are made up of regional experts with the autonomy to create their own operational plans based on broad strategic guidance from the Defense Department, an ambassador and the Army.

“Nowhere else in the world does an O-4 talk directly to a one-star or two-star, or to an ambassador; neither does an E-7 or a captain,” said Maj. Virgil Dwyer, operations chief for the 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion.

For Sgt. 1st Class James Lunn’s team, civil affairs meant assessing the needs of the Zaatari refugee camp near the Syrian border in Jordan in 2012. As part of a coordinated multinational effort, his team provided the camp with 5,000 tons of gravel. Modest by design, the project was a foot in the door to later establish schools and a relationship with the camp’s food distribution program.

“The effect we’re trying to achieve is to help the Jordan government, to show it’s capable of working with the international community to help the Syrian people,” said Lunn, a team sergeant with Delta Company, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade. “The challenge is finding your niche. Everyone is asking, ‘What can you do?’ and we’re representing U.S. interests.”

Teams can work alongside their special operations brethren, conventional units or partner-nation militaries, providing populationcentric, non-lethal capabilities as part of a “holistic SOF approach,” according to Maj. Patrick Blankenship, executive officer for the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion. A civil affairs team analyzes the roots of instability in a given region or country, identifying civil vulnerabilities a potential enemy could exploit.

Working with a U.S. ambassador-led country team, a team could be working with the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, or the FBI as well as any number of local or international organizations — quietly, more often than not.

Each region varies by political climate, the terms under which the Army operates with the host government and what funding is available.

“A lot of those organizations really don’t want to be seen as working with the [U.S.] military, so there is also a coordination you’ve got to be able to do without tainting how they’re seen, of not being a tool of the U.S. government,” according to Wolff, the Civil Affairs branch commandant.

Soldiers must also be careful not to overshadow the host government, but help it foster a bond with its people.

“To have that balance between assisting someone with their issue and not solve it for them, the teams have to be very candid and very careful,” said Dwyer, of the 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion. “We want to do as much as we can and not do it for for them.”

Civil affairs troops, through their ground-level interactions and understanding of local cultures and the people, are able to glean a sense of local dynamics. In the Zaatri refugee camp, for example, they were able to get a sense of whether Syrian refugees planned to return if Syrian president Bashar Assad’s government was overthrown.

“Who better to shed light on that common operating picture than a civil affairs soldier who ate from that market, who buys their groceries from that market, that has friends they deal with in that market or that village all the time,” Dwyer said. “The people in those places are key to our ability to operate and do what we’re able to do. We look for influencers in those communities. If I need to change something, who better to know how to impact it and who I have to talk to.”

Civil affairs troops have increasingly gone to Africa and the Pacific on counter-terror missions. Soldiers have served in West Africa, in hotbeds of insurgent activity and also trained local forces in East Africa, where the al-Shabab militant group has launched terror attacks.

Civil affairs leaders acknowledged that hard power has its limits.

“We realized in SOF as a whole that bad guys are like gremlins; you keep killing them and they keep popping up,” said Brandon Swygert, operations sergeant major for the 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion. “How do we affect through relationships, communities surrounding those bad guys and governments surrounding those bad guys so they are non-supportive to insurgents?”

Inside assessment and selection

On April 23, 1st Lt. Josh Jenks and his teammate tentatively entered the mock clinic at Bragg’s “Freedom Village” to engage with the nurse running it, first establishing rapport with her by sitting, laying down their weapons and asking about her needs.

But when Jenks asked whether the nurse was married, it sounded like a misstep. “That’s a really personal question,” the role player said.

This was the fifth day of Civil Affairs’ tough 10-day assessment and selection process. Civil Affairs looks at about 700 candidates each year to compete in the assessment — only about 62 percent make the cut and go on to the yearlong qualification course and foreign language course.

On this particular mission, 15 small teams were to engage “officials and influencers,” assess the village’s needs and devise a plan. The scenario was filled with figurative landmines and pitfalls, and mysteries.

What’s causing the tuberculosis outbreak? Why does the police chief need dozens of guns when he insists there’s no security problem? Who are the gangs menacing the village? Does the American presence help or increase the threat?

“The answers are there; it’s whether they’re able to retain them and come together to form a plan as a team,” said Toll, who supervises assessment and selection.

Observers assess whether candidates get rattled and acquiesce in a meeting. Are they carefully considering who they help and what the ripple effects may be?

“One of the pitfalls is someone asks for a generator, these guys give them a generator: check,” Toll said. “But what does it do if you give them a generator? Are we giving them fuel and spare parts? What happens when we leave in nine months? Are we creating more problems?”

The mission is all about stability, not taking credit, and not necessarily about helping people.

“Uncle Sam doesn’t have friends or enemies, Uncle Sam has interests,” Toll said. “Sometimes we help people, and man, that feels good, but we don’t go places to help kids; we go there because Uncle Sam says there’s a national security requirement.”

The course involves a combination of daunting physical and cognitive challenges, most with little sleep. Outside of the real-world scenarios, candidates are running and rucking. On the fifth day, candidates build an apparatus out of scrap parts that must carry several hundred pounds, an analogue for the complex problems civil affairs troops face with limited resources.

“At some point in the course, the apparatus will fail,” Toll said. “Seeing how they push through that, whether or not they can persevere, is really what we’re looking for.”

As in the field, sometimes there’s no way to “win” a scenario, and candidates overly fixated on a successful meeting may get rattled.

“Sometimes you’re going to go into a meeting and it’s not going to be friendly,” said Maj. Stephen Ward, of Echo Company, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion. “Are you going to plow through and risk burning a relationship? Sometimes the only thing you can do is set a time for the next meeting, and that’s success.”

It’s not a ‘full-on smash’

Though Civil Affairs is open to all MOSs, operational experience in combat arms or combat support helps. The majority of candidates tend to be infantrymen.

“A lot of guys come over here because they realize you don’t have to pull a trigger to win a war, that sometimes moving at a 45-degree angle instead of a full-on smash is the answer,” Toll said. “If you’re an 11B [infantryman] who goes to his gun every time, you’re not going to make it here.”

Civil Affairs wants well-rounded candidates, so a “physical stud” or a “rocket scientist” might not make it, Wolff said. Adaptability, capability, perseverance, courage, professionalism, charisma and the ability to work on a team are all desired qualities.

“The ones coming over simply for the promotion rates don’t make it past [assessment and selection],” Toll said.

According to Swygert, a former commander of the selection and assessment detachment now with 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion, the process targets whether a soldier is psychologically ready for civil affairs. What decision might a soldier make when his commander is 2,000 miles away?

“I can’t train initiative, I can’t train morality,” Swygert said. “I’ve got to see in their character, when they come into the pipeline, are they able to make the right decisions. If I go to a country and … compromise myself personally, it might have strategic consequences for the U.S. government.”

Those who can thrive under the pressure and independence will reap the rewards of a long, fulfilling career.

“The development opportunities far outweigh anywhere I’ve ever been in the military,” Dwyer said

Thank You For Barnes-Wall Award Nominations

Posted on May 8, 2014

The Barnes-Wall Foundation of South Carolina thanks the many who submitted nominations for the following award to a deserving student:

The foundation will consider providing an award ($500.00) to the best paper on a topic related to military legitimacy.

The award is not intended to recognize a paper for academic credit in an independent study, but an award for the best paper in a class or group of 3 or more. The topic and paper should relate to legal and moral issues in military operations and/or strategy (e.g. democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and religion/cultural issues), with the winning paper being posted (with a non-exclusive right of publication, rights reserved by author) with the author’s permission on the Military Legitimacy Review (MLR) website at

Award and publication decisions should be announced over the Summer of 2014.

Emergent Challenges of (Semi)Autonomous
Weapons Systems

Posted on April 2, 2014

Emergent Challenges Emergent Challenges of (Semi)Autonomous
Weapons Systems

Based in part on materials from:

Robotics in future warfare 09 finkelstein – Slideshare




International Humanitarian Law and New Technologies of Warfare Lou Maresca Legal Adviser ICRC. DRONES, WARBOTS AND AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS.

The Late Fred Phelps, The First Amendment and Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012

Posted on March 26, 2014

The Passing of Fred Phelps and Challenges to First Amendment Freedom of (and from) Speech

JURIST Guest Columnist Kevin Govern of Ave Maria School of Law considers the life and times of the late First Amendment advocate-antagonist Fred Phelps …

JURIST has previously examined the strident First Amendment struggles of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), founded in Topeka, KS in 1955, that became notorious for picketing military funerals, public events and businesses, attacking Christians, Jews, gays and others with hateful signs and shouted slurs. That church’s charismatically confounding founder, Fred Waldron Phelps, died at age 84 on March 19, 2014. Phelps ironically turned down a West Point appointment and a career in the military, to serve as civil rights advocate, only to be disbarred in his home state for having “little regard for the ethics of his profession,” and then served as an ordained minister of God to preach a false gospel of hate. With his passing, perhaps America will find relief from his outrageous efforts to defame and outrage others while seeking the protection of the First Amendment.

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April 11-12, 2014 Conference on The Weighing of Lives in War: Combatants and Civilians in the Jus in Bello

Posted on March 22, 2014

The Weighing of Lives in War: Combatants and Civilians in the Jus in Bello
University of Pennsylvania Law School Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL)

The weight assigned to combatants’ lives has further implications beyond the battlefield.  For example, the more risk on the battlefield soldiers are expected to bear, arguably the greater the national obligation to compensate and care for wounded warriors.  An argument for minimizing combatant exposure, on the other hand, would have implications for the technologies we should be willing to use in order to minimize combatant casualties, even if some such technologies pose an increased risk of collateral damage. CERL’s roundtable discussion will foster an interdisciplinary discussion on these and related topics, drawing together academics and practitioners to discuss the concept of combatancy and the policy its implications.

View Details and read, The Legal Way Ahead Between War And Peace 


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U.S. Navy SEALs take over oil tanker for return to Libya / Perspectives on U.S.’ current counterterrorism and counterpiracy strategy in Africa

Posted on March 19, 2014

U.S. Navy SEALs take over oil tanker for return to Libya

Esam Omran al-Fetori/Reuters – The oil tanker Morning Glory is docked at the Es Sider export terminal in Ras Lanuf, Libya, on March 8. Libya threatened Saturday to bomb the tanker if it tried to ship oil from a rebel-controlled port.

By Ernesto Londoño and Abigail Hauslohner, Published: March 17 E-mail the writer

A team of U.S. Navy SEALs boarded an oil tanker Sunday night in the Mediterranean Sea in an apparent bid to prevent the delivery of Libyan crude worth several million dollars that members of a militia had been attempting to sell, according to U.S. and Libyan officials.

For additional perspective on this operation, and the U.S.’ current counterterrorism strategy in Africa, see Drone Operations in Current US Counterterrorism Strategy in Africa and regarding the related problems of piracy and maritime terrorism see National Solutions to an International Scourge: Prosecuting Piracy Domestically as a Viable Alternative to International Tribunals,


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Advancing or Repressing Rule of Law in Ukraine? “Russian upper house approves use of military force in Ukraine”

Posted on March 1, 2014


Russian upper house approves use of military force in Ukraine

By Tom Watkins, Laura Smith-Spark. and Ingrid Formanek, CNN

updated 1:19 PM EST, Sat March 1, 2014

Troops stand guard in Balaklava, Crimea, on Saturday, March 1. Ukraine suspects Russia of sending new troops into Crimea and provoking separatist tensions in the region. Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine with an ethnic Russian majority. It’s the last large bastion of opposition to Ukraine’s new political leadership after President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster.


  • NEW: “Impose those consequences without further delay,” Sen. McCain demands of Obama
  • Russia’s upper house approves sending of Russian troops into Crimea
  • Ukrainian official: 300 gunmen in Russian uniforms trying to seize a coast guard site
  • Scuffles break out in eastern city of Kharkiv between pro-Russian, pro-EU protesters

Simferopol, Ukraine (CNN) — Russia’s upper house of Parliament voted unanimously Saturday to approve sending Russian military forces into Ukraine, amid mounting tensions in the country’s Crimea region and in defiance of warnings from Western powers.


Civil Affairs Association’s Board Meeting – Saturday, 22 March 2014

Posted on February 25, 2014

The Civil Affairs Association’s Board Meeting well be held on Saturday, 22 March 2014 at the Arlington Court Suites Hotel, 1200 North Courthouse Road.Arlington, VA. Telephone number is (703) 524-4000. When calling the hotel for reservations, ask for the Civil Affairs Association Room Rate which will be available Thursday through Saturday, March 20 to March 22. The meeting will start at 9:00 am.

Please confirm your attendance by emailing

Hotel information can be located at the following URL:

On the Friday prior to the CAA board meeting, the  George Mason University Peace Operations Policy Program, Reserve Officers Association, Alliance for Peacebuilding, Civil Affairs Association, UN Association of the United States National Capital Area, Better World Campaign, and Foreign Area Officer Association will conduct their 20th Civil Affairs Roundtable on “More than Monuments Men: Military Support to Governance in the 21st Century.”

The date and location are as follows: 21 March 2014, from 8:00 a.m. to 3 the George Mason University Arlington Campus, Room 125, Founders Hall, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22201.

A detailed agenda  for the Roundtable will be posted in early March. To pre-register please go to:

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United States reveals ‘specific’ threats to Olympic Games

Posted on February 4, 2014

United States reveals ‘specific’ threats to Olympic Games

By Laura Smith-Spark and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

updated 9:27 PM EST, Tue February 4, 2014

U.S. reveals ‘specific threats’ to Sochi


  • NEW: Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee complains about cooperation
  • Austrian team receives threatening letter
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi three days before the Winter Olympics open
  • Organizers are scrambling to get everything ready for the Games

Sochi, Russia (CNN) — U.S. officials say they have specific reasons to worry about security in Sochi, only three days before the Winter Olympic Games are set to open in the Russian city.

Speaking at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, highlighted concern over the Games and whether Muslim fundamentalists in disputed regions of Russia — or other groups — could launch deadly attacks on selected targets.

7 civil affairs soldiers at Fort Bragg honored for valor in Afghanistan

Posted on January 27, 2014

7 civil affairs soldiers at Fort Bragg honored for valor in Afghanistan

Staff photos by Johnny Horne

7 civil affairs soldiers at Fort Bragg honored for valor in Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Michael P. Pate was awarded the Silver Star at the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion Valorous Awards Ceremony on Thursday at Fort Bragg.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014 9:21 pm | Updated: 9:31 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

By Venita Jenkins Staff writer

A group of soldiers honored for their valor during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2012 say they did what any other soldier would have done to help a wounded colleague.

Seven civil affairs soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg were honored Thursday during the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion Valorous Awards Ceremony at the JFK Memorial Auditorium. The men were serving with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Michael P. Pate, a former paramedic, received a Silver Star Medal, the military’s third-highest award for valor, during the ceremony.

Pate, 30, of Charleston, S.C., is a member of Civil Affairs Team 611, A Company. Pate was humbled by the recognition. He said the team did what they were trained to do.

“I am humbled because of the sheer number of people who have received these awards,” Pate said. “The company that we keep is pretty profound. I’m proud to represent my organization and the guys who could not be here that should have been recognized. Definitely mixed emotions about the entire thing.”

According to a citation for his award, Pate was part of a Nov. 1, 2012, civil reconnaissance patrol when his unit was ambushed east of the village of Sardar Kala, Afghanistan.

With only ankle-high irrigation berms for cover, Pate found himself fewer than 200 yards away from two fortified heavy machine gun positions and at least six other enemy shooters hiding in a dense orchard.

With one of his teammates critically wounded in the ambush, Pate risked his life to save the soldier by running more than 50 yards toward the enemy.

Pate and Capt. Jacob Allen dragged the wounded soldier behind a berm, and Pate performed surgery for more than 10 minutes while returning fire to the enemy position.

He then “remained exposed while hundreds of enemy bullets impacted all around” as he coordinated air support and a medical evacuation.

For his role, Allen, 32, of Williamsburg, Va., earned the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device. The leader of Team 611, Allen also doubled back to save the wounded soldier and helped Pate render aid in the open field.

Allen fired the wounded soldier’s heavy weapon until it jammed, according to the citation for his award, then began firing with his own rifle, remaining exposed until he could direct other soldiers to the location of the enemy.

“I don’t think anything I did would have been different than anything the guys around me would have done,” he said.

Pate witnessed several courageous acts by other soldiers who have not been recognized, he said.

“I think everybody we were with, as soon as bullets started kicking off, ran to the fight because you never know when someone will need your help,” Pate said.

Two other soldiers from Team 611 were awarded for valor for the same patrol.

Sgt. 1st Class Kevin L. Hargrove, 31, of Mount Holly, N.J., and Sgt. 1st Class Kevin W. Oakes, 36, of Bad Hersfeld, Germany, received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device.

According to medal citations, Hargrove and Oaks drew fire away from their injured teammate during the ambush.

Hargrove led soldiers through stream beds while under fire to outflank the enemy and send them fleeing from their fortified positions.

His soldiers were able to seize hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The three other soldiers honored were Staff Sgt. Philip A. Aubrey, Sgt. 1st Class Donovan S. Johnson and 1st Sgt. Jamie T. Mullinax.

Aubrey, 32, of Santa Fe, N.M., received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device. According to a citation, Aubrey was the medic on a patrol out of a remote Afghan base on Nov. 5, 2012.

When his unit came under attack, Aubrey maneuvered from the back of the patrol to treat a soldier from a partner force who was injured, sprinting 50 feet through incoming fire to treat the wounded soldier while completely exposed.

Mullinax and Johnson, also members of Team 611, received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device for actions during separate patrols, according to their citations.

Johnson, 28, of Crossnore, was part of an April 26, 2012, group that came under attack during a village stability operation in an enemy-dominated village.

During the attack, Johnson was trapped with four other soldiers in a narrow pathway flanked by mud walls.

Isolated from the rest of the patrol, Johnson maneuvered through the exposed alley, jumping over walls to spot enemy fighting positions to relay to his commander.

“He selflessly exposed himself to the enemy at least a half dozen times, as rounds snapped overhead and impacted the walls around him,” according to the award citation.

Mullinax, 43, of Catawba County, was on a different village stability operation Sept. 27, 2012, when his patrol came under attack from a “highly organized enemy.”

Mullinax bounded across open terrain to a defensive fighting position, then called out the direction and location of enemy fighters.

Then, with two other soldiers, Mullinax sprinted to another post while avoiding bullets and an incoming rocket-propelled grenade, according to the award citation. Mullinax again engaged the enemy while relaying information to his commander during the 30-minute firefight.

Capt. Jacob Allen said the men’s action is “representative of what happens regularly in our community.”

“We were recognized, but there are a lot of brave men and women who do this job every day,” he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Hargrove said the men never second-guessed what they needed to do to save the wounded soldier.

“We train together before we leave. You are together pretty much 24/7 when you are deployed,” he said. “Your teammates become part of your family.

“If you know your teammate is out there, that instinct just kicks in to help them – and make sure that they make it home to their families.”

Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, presented the soldiers with medals and a certificate.

The seven men faced the ultimate test of a soldier – confronting an enemy of the country, he said.

Cleveland said what was a described as a normal reconnaissance patrol become more than routine.

“What is routine for our special operators perhaps is extraordinary for others,” he said. “… Your actions and the actions of your comrades amazed and inspired those of us who came before you.”

Staff writer Venita Jenkins can be reached at or 486-3511.

Reference Links

Posted in Military, Local, Military news, Morning news, Top news on Thursday, January 23, 2014 9:21 pm. Updated: 9:31 pm.

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2014 Winter Olympics – Averting And Responding To Terrorist Threats

Posted on January 18, 2014

With the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympics from 6 to 23 February 2014 coming up, the topic of military legitimacy, and the role of the military in averting and responding to terrorist threats is more timely than ever!

Bill Rathburn, a former police chief in Los Angeles and Dallas, directed security for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta and served in various planning roles for six other Olympics says “The security threat is higher than it’s ever been in the history of the Olympic Games,” Rathburn told Yahoo News. “In my opinion, it’s not a matter of whether there will be some incident, it’s just a matter of how bad it’s going to be.”

See Jason Sickles, Security expert: It’s not if but when for Sochi Olympics terror attack, Yahoo News, Jan. 16, 2014,–its-not-if–but-how-bad-for-sochi-olympics-terror-attack-150717940.html

Two bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd over the last two months, one at the city’s central railway station and another on a bus, killed dozens of people and raised anxieties about the safety of the Olympics.  See Tom Cohen and Jethro Mullen, Russia bombings raise questions about Sochi Olympics security,, Jan. 4, 2013,

U.S. officials said U.S. and Russian authorities have engaged in extensive contacts regarding security preparations for the Games. The United States is expected to share with Russia information it might collect about possible threats to the Games, with the

National Counter-terrorism Center coordinating and integrating the intelligence community’s support to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Many are hoping, praying and working towards the end that the Winter Olympics will be a peaceful event – but this is not likely – and the security threat for the Rio Summer Olympic games are considerable as well.

All of this is aside from the certainty that wars will continue to rage for the months and years ahead.

For additional readings, see, e.g.,

UNH Sochi Terrorist Threat
The Sochi Predicament – Sample




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Global Law, World Events, and US National Security

Posted on January 14, 2014

Global Law World Events and US National Security
13 JAN 14 CCRC Presentation – Govern
Presented at January 13, 2014 meeting of
the Charlotte County Republican Club|

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2013 Military Legitimacy Review

Posted on January 3, 2014

2013 Military Legitimacy Review

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a reply Edit

The Year in Review – 2013 Posts

Posted on January 3, 2014


The Year in Review – 2013 PostsPosted in Uncategorized | Leave a reply Edit

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) teacher training event February 7 and 8th in Provo, UT.

Posted on January 3, 2014

BYU and the ICRC are hosting an IHL teacher training event on February 7 and 8th in Provo.  Registration is $250. There is more info and the agenda here:   Registration deadline is January 17th.


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