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Headscratchers / JAG

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  • Despite the insinuations made in “People v. SECNAV” that Harm and Mac are the very best litigators and legal minds in the Department of the Navy, then why the heck has neither of them ever served in a joint duty assignment (OSD, the Joint Staff, Combatant Commands et al)?
    • Those joint staff assignments were created as a result of the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986 as a response to Interservice Rivalry being a major reason why Operation Eagle Claw (the Iran hostage rescue attempt) was such a failure. Since at that time, the Navy/Marine Corps, Air Force and Army had differing doctrines much less differing methods of operation. These joint staff assignments were there for future operational commanders to familiarize themselves with the workings of other services and come up with unified doctrines. They are therefore plum assignments for line officers. Harm and Mac being staff officers do not neccesarily need such exposure to how the other services work. A joint legal staff accomplishes nothing - since they are all lawyers, there is nothing special one could learn from say an army lawyer.
  • At least during the show's first season, it really seems like these Navy lawyers don't spend much of their time lawyering. Why are they always getting sent off investigating crimes and mishaps? Isn't that work more in line with the Office of the Inspector General or NCIS?
    • The Office of the Inspector General exists primarily to investigate malfeasance, abuse of authority and misuse of funds by government employees. Which in this case would be Department of Defense or Department of the Navy civilian employees or high ranking officers. OIG won't send people to investigate airplane crashes, murders etc. As for the agency that we now know as NCIS, this season was set in 1995. Around that time, NCIS had just been under a cloud of scandal having utterly botched the inquiry into the Tailhook incident. They were originally structured similar to Army CID, even being headed by an admiral, but a bad rap during their investigation of Tailhook led to them being restructured as a civilian federal agency under civilian leadership. Their name was even changed from Naval Investigative Service to Naval Criminal Investigative Service. They were restricted to only investigating outright felonies. Mishap and misconduct investigations would fall under the purview of JAG officers conducting JAG Manual investigations.
  • Why is Singer put in charge of JAG at the end of season 7? I mean she is deeply unpopular and very crassly ambitious, plus Chegwidden seem to resent her.
    • Because she was the only senior officer available at that time. And she isn't in command of the entire JAG corps, she is only running the headquarters staff.
  • Rabb started out as an aviator, which is a line officer slot and takes three years to become. How did his night vision problem remain hidden for that long, and why was he turned into a staff officer when he could've been turned into an aircraft maintenance duty officer due to his existing familiarity with F-14s?
    • Season 4 reveals that Harm was misdiagnosed. It wasn't a degenerative night blindness condition that usually has early onset symptoms, but rather, retinal scarring. Once it is corrected via surgery, he regains full use of his eyesight at night, allowing him to requalify as a naval aviator. He continues to be a fully qualified aviator for the rest of the series. As for why they made him a staff officer, the navy doesn't quite work like that. While junior enlisted have no say in where they are assigned, senior enlisted and all officers have access to Detailers who will offer them a variety of assignments to choose from. So, while an aircraft maintenance officer's position may have been available to Harm, he apparently chose not to take it, opting instead to go to law school and become a military lawyer.


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