By Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos
35th Infantry Division Public Affairs
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate for Operation Spartan Shield hosted an all-day continuing legal education seminar Oct. 27. More than 30 military legal professionals from several different units throughout the area of operation attended, including Maj. Gen. Victor Braden, 35th Infantry Division commander, Kansas Army National Guard, who led the discussion.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to get the legal community together and to just have some discussions about trends that we see or issues that come up,” said Braden. “It’s always great to get everybody together and get a feel for what the issues are, and how best to go about appropriately addressing those in a legally sound way.”The attorneys came together to engage in an open forum where they could network, develop a cohesive environment, discuss ethics in law, stay abreast of changes in military law, and engage one another regarding law pertaining to Operation Spartan Shield. The seminar provided an environment to share ideas and issues, and earn continuing education credits.
Participation was not limited by location, and presenters and attendees participated from as far away as the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
“We have nine different presentations,” said Sgt. Maj. Timothy Rains, command paralegal for 35th ID. “The chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court will be presenting via video teleconference. We have all of the brigade judge advocates and we have one from UAE on video teleconference.”
As practitioners of varying types of law, attendees found opportunities to learn from one another.
“At every one of these, you learn something new,” said Braden. “I think I learned quite a bit about operational law today. We discussed how we build interoperability into our engagements and some of the things we need to be thinking about to make sure that those engagements are legally sound.”
Capt. Courtney Sharp, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat team, 1st Cavalry Division, agreed.
“One of the things that I’ve learned today is that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is undergoing a new change that is being implemented in the next year,” said Sharp. “It is good for us, as attorneys, to be aware of such changes and to be ahead of the curve. The more abreast we are of the changes, the better we can advise our commanders.”
Attorneys at this conference received an additional benefit from their host. As a citizen Soldier, Braden is also a civilian attorney.
“One of the really unique things about our conference is that General Braden, as the commanding general, is an attorney himself,” said Sharp. “He brings both a commander’s perspective and the understanding of law. So he gets the legal nuances, but then he also helps us see more from the commander’s perspective; how it is we can better serve our commanders as their special staff.”