The Army Lawyer | Issue 3 2021View PDF

null Lore of the Corps

Major General Robert H. McCaw (right), TAJAG, 1961–1964, and Major General Charles Decker, TJAG. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Lore of the Corps

A History of the No. 2 Army Lawyer in the Corps

While every member of the Corps knows that the Deputy Judge Advocate General is the No. 2 lawyer in the organization, few know the history of this important position, much less that it did not exist in its present form until after World War II.


The first mention of an assistant to the Judge Advocate General, then-abbreviated as “tJAG,” occurs in June 1864, when William McKee Dunn, was appointed the “Assistant Judge Advocate General” (AJAG) with the rank of lieutenant colonel; he would serve as AJAG from 1875 to 1881.1 That position was abolished in 1874, but then resurrected by the Act of July 5, 1884, when Congress created the Judge Advocate General’s Department (JAGD) and decreed that it would consist of one JAG with the rank of brigadier general, one “assistant JAG” with the rank of colonel, and three Deputy JAGs with the rank of major.2 Since the entire JAGD consisted of five uniformed lawyers, being the “assistant JAG” certainly did not involve much supervision.

As the Army entered the 20th century, the size of the JAGD increased slightly. In the Act of February 2, 1901, Congress provided for a JAGD consisting of one brigadier general (tJAG), two colonels, three lieutenant colonels, and six majors. Since the Department was only authorized one general officer, any assistant JAG was a colonel. This was not, however, a position authorized by either statute or regulation.3

In the 1920s and 1930s, the top lawyer in the JAGD was a major general (tJAG), having gone from one to two stars during World War I, but there were no other general officers in the JAGD. In this regard, the Act of 1920 authorized an Army legal department consisting of 114 officers in the grades of captain to colonel—but no authorization for any of these officers to serve as an assistant JAG.4

Near the end of World War II, the JAGD had a major general as TJAG (Major General (MG) Myron C. Cramer) and four “Assistant Judge Advocates General (AJAG)”—three of whom were brigadier generals. Brigadier General Thomas H. Green had a very large portfolio, as he was AJAG for Claims, Contracts, Litigation, Military Affairs, Military Reservations, Patents, Tax, and Legal Assistance. Brigadier General (BG) John Weir was the Executive Officer and had responsibility for the War Plans Division. Brigadier General James E. Morrisette was in charge of military justice matters and supervised the five Boards of Review and the Military Justice Division. Finally, Colonel (COL) Robert M. Springer had responsibility for the Military Personnel and Training Division, Special Assignments, and all field installations.5

In the rapid demobilization that followed the end of hostilities with Japan, however, the JAGD lost hundreds of officers; by mid-1946, it appeared that MG Thomas H. Green, who had been serving as TJAG since 1 December 1945, would soon be the only general officer in the JAGD. In May 1946, recognizing that he needed more judge advocate (JA) general officers, Green proposed that the Secretary of War promote a JA colonel to brigadier general. According to Green, this person would serve as “Deputy or First Assistant in the Office of The Judge Advocate General.”

6 Figure 1 is a diagram depicting the Office of The Judge Advocate General (OTJAG), JAGD in January 1947; note that the only general officer in the JAGD was TJAG.

On 2 February 1947, TJAG Green finally got his brigadier general and Deputy/First Assistant: Hubert D. Hoover. The JAGD now had two general officers, but only the TJAG position had any formal recognition in the War Department.7

Congress Authorizes the “Assistant Judge Advocate General”

In June 1948, Congress enacted legislation that changed the name of The Judge Advocate General’s Department to The Judge Advocate General’s Corps. This same legislation also provided that the newly-designated Corps now officially would have one “Assistant Judge Advocate General” with the rank of major general. This was the first time in the 20th century that a statute had identified an Assistant with a capital “A” to TJAG and the first time this No. 2 position was given two-star rank.8 As a result of this statute, The Assistant Judge Advocate General soon became known by the acronym “TAJAG.”

Wire diagrams showing the place of TAJAG in the Corps in 1963 and 1983 are at Figures 2 and 3.9 Note that in 1963, there was a TAJAG and three Assistant JAGs (all brigadier generals). In 1983, however, there were three one-star Assistant JAGs plus a one-star JA in U.S. Army, Europe.

“TAJAG” Becomes The Deputy Judge Advocate General

In 2008, Congress enacted legislation that provided that the Army, Navy, and Air Force TJAGs would be elevated from two-star to three-star rank. Section 543 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 also provided that the Army’s TAJAG would now be known as the “Deputy Judge Advocate General.” This so-called “re-designation” was cosmetic—in that the new Deputy now known as DJAG had the same authority and responsibilities as the old TAJAG, but the change in name brought the Army in line with the Navy and the Air Force, as those branches already had a Deputy and not an Assistant Judge Advocate General.10

Major General Daniel V. “Dan” Wright became the first DJAG in 2008—with the position now the only two-star billet in the Corps. A wire diagram showing the place of the DJAG in the current Corps general officer structure is at Figure 4.11

Duties and Responsibilities of the TAJAG/DJAG

When TJAG Thomas H. Green requested the appointment of a “Deputy” or “First Assistant Judge Advocate General” in 1946, he explained that he needed an assistant because the “responsibilities and duties” of TJAG were “beyond the capacities of one officer . . . and a great part of the responsibilities and duties involving the administration and rendition of legal opinions must be delegated to a Deputy or Assistant.”12 According to Green, in the absence of TJAG, “his Deputy or Assistant” must be able to “furnish legal services without interruption . . . to the various War Department agencies, members of Congress, and the public.”13 Green’s vision of what a TAJAG should do is certainly what seems to have occurred in the case of MG Hoover; Hoover’s first Efficiency Report as TAJAG states that Hoover “performed duties substantially similar to those performed by the Judge Advocate General” and that Hoover “[a]cted as First Assistant.”14

Since TAJAG Hoover’s era, the No. 2 lawyer in our Corps has continued to perform as an assistant to TJAG, with his duties very much determined by TJAG. For example, when MG William K. Suter was TAJAG from 1985 to 1989, he supervised The Judge Advocate General’s School, U.S. Army (TJAGSA), the U.S. Army Legal Services Agency, and the U.S. Army Claims Service. Major General Overholt, then serving as TJAG, also put Suter in charge of developing “JAG policies.” Finally, Suter was in charge of “overall force structure” for the Corps and “personnel management,” which included TAJAG Suter being the president of Selective Early Retirement Boards for JA lieutenant colonels and colonels. Major General Suter believes that the “great working relationship” he had with TJAG Overholt resulted from the two men having been faculty at TJAGSA at the same time and because Suter previously had worked for Overholt in the Personnel, Plans, and Training Office.15

Ten years later, when MG Michael Marchand was serving as TAJAG, the TJAG, MG Thomas Romig, wanted Marchand to “be an alter ego” for him as TJAG. Romig also tasked Marchand with overseeing the “day-to-day running of the OTJAG staff” and made Marchand “responsible for USALSA and the Claims Service.”16

More recently, MG Thomas “Tom” Ayres, who served as DJAG under TJAG Flora Darpino, had the following “significant duties and responsibilities”:

Principal Assistant to The Judge Advocate General. Assist TJAG in supervising over 9,500 legal professionals worldwide, and performs the duties of TJAG in her absence. Supervises The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the US Army Legal Services Agency, to include direct supervision of the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, the US Army Claims Service, the Office of the Judge Advocate General, to include all functions of the Personnel, Plans and Training Office, and the Professional Responsibility Branch. Responsible for the proficiency of all military and civilian attorneys in the active and reserve components. Serve as the Chief Information Officer of the JAG Corps. Primary responsibility for the execution of an $82 million budget.17

There is little doubt that future DJAGs will have responsibilities similar to those given to DJAG Ayres, bearing in mind that the No. 2 lawyer in the Corps also always will have duties as assigned by TJAG.

TAJAGs and DJAGs in History

Major General Hubert D. Hoover, TAJAG, 1949, (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General Hubert D. Hoover

The first TAJAG was MG Hubert D. Hoover, who served from February 1949 to November 1949. Prior to his elevation to the No. 2 position in the Corps, then-COL Hoover had been AJAG in charge of the Branch Office of The Judge Advocate General, Mediterranean Theater of Operations from 1943 to 1945.18 When he returned to the United States in June 1945, Hoover served as the AJAG in Charge of Civil Matters. He then served as the AJAG in Charge of Military Justice Matters from July 1947 to May 1948.19 Hoover was a brigadier general when he was promoted to major general on 1 June 1948 and appointed as the first The Assistant Judge Advocate General.

Major General Franklin P. Shaw

After Hoover’s retirement, MG Franklin P. Shaw served as TAJAG from January 1950 to December 1953. Born in Kentucky in 1891, Shaw earned his law degree from the McDonald Education Institute in 1914 and served as an Infantry officer in World War I. He entered the JAGD in 1920 and served in a variety of assignments, including duty with U.S. Army Troops in Tientsin, China. As he was the Judge Advocate of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, Shaw spent all of World War II in the United States. After the war, however, then-COL Shaw was overseas as the Judge Advocate, Pacific Air Command, with duty in Manila and Tokyo; he ultimately served on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff as the Judge Advocate General Headquarters, Far East Command, in Tokyo, Japan.20

Major General Claude B. Mickelwait, TAJAG, 1954-1956. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General Claude B. Mickelwait

Major General Claude B. Mickelwait was TAJAG from July 1954 to November 1956. Born in Iowa, he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Idaho in 1916 and was detailed to the JAGD in 1930, after which he earned a law degree at the University of California. During World War II, Mickelwait was the Chief, Military Affairs Division, at the Office of the Judge Advocate General, before deploying to Italy, where then-COL Mickelwait served as the Fifth Army judge advocate. He was responsible for establishing courts-martial in key geographic locations and training court personnel so that there would be “prompt and efficient disposition of military offenses.”21 Mickelwait also anticipated “many problems of occupation” in Italy regarding civil courts, law and order, and operation of the Allied Military Government on the Italian peninsula.22

Major General George Hickman, TAJAG, 1956. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General George Hickman

Major General George Hickman followed Mickelwait as TAJAG on 1 August 1956. At the time, TJAG Eugene Caffey was expected to serve as the top Army lawyer until 1958, but his unexpected—and early—retirement explains why Hickman moved up to be TJAG on 2 January 1957.23 Major General Hickman’s elevation from TAJAG to TJAG was a first in history, since all previous TAJAGs had retired from the position. Note that he served only five months as TAJAG—the shortest tenure for a No. 2 in history.

A 1926 graduate of West Point, Hickman served as an Infantry officer until 1940, when he entered Harvard Law School. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hickman left Harvard to return to the Army. He subsequently served as the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), 98thInfantry Division and XII Corps. At the end of World War II, then-COL Hickman was the Executive Officer, OSJA, Far East Command, in Tokyo.

Hickman returned to Harvard Law School to complete his law studies, graduated in 1948, and then was re-assigned to Japan. He was in Tokyo when the North Koreans attacked American and South Korean forces in June 1950. Colonel Hickman was the SJA, United Nations Command, during the first years of the conflict. He retired as TJAG in 1961.

Major General Stanley W. Jones

Hickman was followed by MG Stanley W. Jones, who served from January 1957 to January 1961. Born in 1907 in Brooklyn, New York, Jones graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1929. He served as an Infantry officer until 1939, when he entered the University of Virginia’s law school. After graduating in 1942, Jones served in Europe with the 85th Division and XII Corps. Major General Jones is one of the few JA general officers to continue on active duty after leaving the Corps, serving as the Commander, Army Audit Agency from 1962 to 1965. In this position, he oversaw that agency’s audits of Army installations and military assistance programs.24

Major General Robert H. McCaw

Major General Robert H. McCaw became TAJAG in January 1961 and served in that position until February 1964, when he moved up to be TJAG. Born in Boone, Iowa, in 1907, McCaw earned his law degree from Creighton University in 1931. He was in private practice until 1942, when he entered the JAGD. After a tour of duty as the SJA, 78th Infantry Division, McCaw was ordered to the European Theater of Operations. He subsequently served as Task Force Judge Advocate with the 1st Airborne Task Force and as Army Judge Advocate with the 1st Allied Airborne Army. During this period, McCaw took part in the Rome–Arno, Southern France, Rhineland, and Central European campaigns.25

After World War II, then-COL McCaw served as SJA, Berlin District, and Theater Judge Advocate, Caribbean Command. He was the Judge Advocate, Army Forces in the Far East and Eighth U.S. Army prior to becoming TAJAG in 1961.26

Major General Harry J. Engel, TAJAG, 1964-1967. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General Harry J. Engel

When MG McCaw was elevated to TJAG in February 1964, MG Harry J. Engel succeeded him as TAJAG. Engel served from February 1964 to January 1967. Born in April 1908 in Brooklyn, New York, Engel earned his law degree from St. John’s College in 1930. When World War II began, he was inducted into the Army as a private. He completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an Infantry officer in 1943.27

In 1946, Engel was detailed to the JAGD from Infantry and served in variety of assignments and locations, including: SJA, 10th Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas; SJA, 7th Infantry Division, Korea; SJA, Army Communications Zone, France; SJA, U.S. Continental Command; and Judge Advocate, U.S. Army, Europe. He was confirmed as TAJAG in February 1964 and served until January 1967, when he retired from active duty.28

Major General Lawrence J. Fuller

Major General Lawrence J. Fuller followed Engel and served from July 1967 to June 1971. Born in Everett, Washington, in 1914, Fuller graduated from West Point in 1940. He served as a combat engineer in World War II and then attended law school at the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1951. Fuller then served in various locations, including Korea, where he was the SJA, Eighth U.S. Army. After completing his tour of duty as TAJAG in 1971, MG Fuller became the Deputy Director, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). His move to DIA after his service as TAJAG makes sense, as Fuller was fluent in Chinese. He had a masters in Chinese Studies from Stanford University and had “translated three volumes of Chinese law into English.”29 Major General Fuller retired from active duty in 1974.

Major General Harold E. Parker

Harold E. Parker served as TAJAG from July 1971 to June 1975. Born in 1918 in New York, Parker served as a Field Artillery officer in World War II and was serving on the War Department General Staff when he was selected to attend Stanford Law School at Army expense. After graduating in 1951, Parker transferred to the JAG Corps and served in a number of locations and assignments, including: Assistant SJA, Seventh Army Headquarters and 2d Armored Division, Germany; SJA, 1st Infantry Division, also in Germany; Criminal Law Division, Office of The Judge Advocate General; and SJA, U.S. Army, Berlin. Prior to being appointed as TAJAG in 1971, then-Brigadier General Parker served as Assistant Judge Advocate General for Military Law. He left active duty in June 1975.30

Major General Lawrence Williams, TAJAG, 1975–1979. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General Lawrence Williams

Parker was followed by MG Lawrence “Larry” Williams, who served from July 1975 to July 1979. Born in 1922 in Massachusetts, Williams served as a navigator in World War II. He saw duty in North Africa, Italy, France, and England and flew twenty-six combat missions. Afterwards, he became the lead navigator for the 9th Troop Carrier Command on 6 June 1944, which dropped paratroopers over Normandy in the early hours of D-Day.31

After the war, Williams left active duty, earned a law degree from the University of Colorado, and returned to the Army as a judge advocate. He served as an administrative law instructor at TJAGSA and also as the SJA and G-1, 3d Armored Division, Frankfurt, Germany. From 1967 to 1969, then-COL Williams served as the SJA, III Corps and Fort Hood; then, he served as the SJA, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, from 1969 to 1970. He was promoted to brigadier general in July 1971 and became TAJAG on 1 July 1975. Major General Williams retired from active duty in July 1979.32

Major General Hugh J. Clausen

Hugh J. Clausen followed Williams as TAJAG; he served from July 1979 to the summer of 1981, when he became TJAG. Born in Mobile, Alabama, on Christmas Day 1926, Clausen served briefly as an enlisted sailor in the Navy before returning to civilian life. He earned his law degree from the University of Alabama in 1950 and was a member of the 7th Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course—which was the first basic course held at the newly-established TJAGSA in Charlottesville.33

After the basic class, Clausen served in Germany at V Corps and U.S. Army, Europe. After completing the 7th Career Course (today’s Graduate Course), then-Major Clausen taught criminal law in TJAGSA’s Military Justice Division. In 1961, he was sent to study Korean at the Presidio of Monterey as preparation for a tour as Chief, International Affairs Division, Eighth U.S. Army. Clausen subsequently served as the SJA, 1st Infantry Division, Vietnam, and SJA, III Corps and Fort Hood, before being promoted to brigadier general in 1976. He was promoted to major general and assumed duties as TAJAG on 1 July 1979.34

Major General Hugh R. Overholt, TAJAG, 1981-1985, and TJAG, 1985-1989. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General Hugh R. Overholt

When MG Alton Harvey retired after only two years as TJAG, Hugh Clausen moved up from the No. 2 job to be the top uniformed lawyer in the Army. Clausen’s elevation meant that there was a new TAJAG on 1 August 1981: Hugh R. Overholt. A native of Arkansas, Overholt earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Arkansas and entered the JAG Corps in 1957. For the next several decades, Overholt served in various assignments, including: SJA, 7th Infantry Division, Korea; Chief, Criminal Law Division, TJAGSA; Chief, Personnel, Plans, and Training Office, OTJAG; and SJA, XVIII Airborne Corps. Major General Overholt served as TAJAG until July 1985, when he became TJAG.35

Major General William K. “Bill” Suter, TAJAG, 1985-1989, and acting TJAG, 1989-1991. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General William K. “Bill” Suter

William K. “Bill” Suter followed MG Overholt as TAJAG, and served from 1985 until 1991, when he retired from active duty. Suter had been nominated to be TJAG when General Overholt retired in 1989, but the Senate never confirmed Suter for this position, so he served as Acting TJAG from 1989 to 1991. In this regard, while Suter was Acting TJAG, there was no TAJAG.36

After receiving his law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, Bill Suter entered the Corps in September 1962. He served as an instructor at TJAGSA, as the SJA, U.S. Army Support, Thailand, and as the Deputy SJA, U.S. Army, Vietnam, prior to becoming the SJA, 101st Airborne Division. Then-COL Suter was the Commandant, TJAGSA, before his promotion to brigadier general in July 1984. After leaving active duty in 1991, MG Suter was selected by Chief Justice William D. Rehnquist to be the Clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States. Suter retired from that position in 2013.37

Major General Robert Murray

Major General Robert “Bob” Murray served as TAJAG from 1991 to 1993. He entered the JAG Corps in 1962 and, after completing TJAGSA’s “Special Course” (as the Judge Advocate Office Basic Course was then called), Bob Murray served in various locations in the United States, Germany, Italy, Korea and Vietnam. Major General Murray’s assignments included: SJA, 1st Armored Division; Judge Advocate, Headquarters, United Nations Command/Eighth U.S. Army, Korea; and Commandant, TJAGSA. Murray was followed by MG Kenneth Gray, the first Black officer to reach flag rank in the Corps.

Major General Kenneth Darnell Gray, TAJAG, 1993–1997. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General Kenneth Darnell Gray

Born in West Virginia, Kenneth Darnell Gray was commissioned through Army ROTC at West Virginia State College and earned his law degree at West Virginia University in 1969. After joining the JAG Corps, then-Captain Gray served a year in Vietnam before returning to the United States where he received an assignment that would affect the future of African-Americans in the Corps: he was tasked with creating and implementing the newly-created Minority Lawyer Recruiting Program. Gray’s mission was to bring more Black and female lawyers into an organization that was predominantly White and male.38

After completing this assignment in the Pentagon, Ken Gray served in a variety of locations and positions, including SJA, 2d Armored Division, and SJA, III Corps. He was the first African-American JA to serve as the top lawyer in a numbered division and at an Army corps. Prior to becoming TAJAG in 1993, then-BG Gray was the USALSA Commander and the Chief Judge, U.S. Army Court of Military Review.39

Major General John D. Altenburg

John D. Altenburg followed Gray as TAJAG, serving from 1997 to 2001. After serving as a noncommissioned officer in Vietnam, MG Altenberg earned a law degree from the University of Cincinnati. He entered the JAG Corps in 1973 and subsequently served in a variety of assignments, including SJA, 1st Armored Division, and SJA, XVIII Airborne Corps. Major General Altenburg was the first JA to earn the Army’s Scuba Diver Badge while serving as a JA at 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, in 1977.40

Major General Michael J. Marchand

Michael J. Marchand served as TAJAG from 2001 to 2005. After being commissioned through Army ROTC in June 1970, Marchand received his law degree from the University of Minnesota. He subsequently taught contract law at TJAGSA, served as the Deputy SJA, Fort Eustis, Virginia, and was the SJA, 6th Infantry Division (Light) and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Then-COL Marchand was the Executive to TJAG prior to his promotion to brigadier general in 1997. As a one-star general, Marchand served as the Assistant JAG for Civil Law and Litigation and as the Commander, USALSA and Chief Judge, Army Court of Criminal Appeals. Major General Mike Marchand retired in 2005.41

Major General Daniel V. Wright, TAJAG and DJAG, 2005–2009. (Photo courtesy of Fred L. Borch III)

Major General Daniel V. Wright

Marchand’s successor was MG Daniel V. Wright—the last TAJAG and the first DJAG in Corps history. A United States Military Academy graduate, Dan Wright served in key assignments at the 75th Ranger Regiment, Joint Special Operations Command, Southern European Task Force, and XVIII Airborne Corps. During his years as an Army lawyer, he deployed overseas to Somalia, Haiti, Italy, Rwanda, and the Congo. Major General Wright retired from the Army after nearly thirty-seven years of military service.42

Major General Clyde J. “Butch” Tate II

Major General Clyde J. “Butch” Tate II followed Wright as DJAG. An ROTC graduate of the University of Kansas, from which he also received his law degree, MG Tate entered the JAG Corps in 1982. He had multiple tours at Fort Bragg: two at the 82d Airborne Division (one as the division SJA) and one at U.S. Army Special Forces Command. Tate also served in Germany with the 1st Infantry Division during the Cold War era. While the SJA, III Corps and Fort Hood in 2004, then-COL Tate deployed to Iraq as the SJA, Multi-National Corps–Iraq. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2006 and served as the Commanding General and Commandant, TJAGSA; the Commander, USALSA; and, prior to his elevation to be DJAG in January 2010, the Chief Judge, U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals.43

Major General Thomas Ayres

Major General Ayres served as DJAG from 2013 to 2017. After graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1984, Ayres served as an airborne rifle platoon leader and executive officer in Italy before attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania on the Funded Legal Education Program. Highlights of his career included being the SJA, 82d Airborne Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Multi-National Corps–Iraq. Ayres also served as the DSJA at both the 82d Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps. After his promotion to brigadier general, Tom Ayres served as Commander and Commandant The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (TJAGLCS); Commander, U.S. Army Legal Services Agency; and Chief Judge, U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. After retiring from active duty, MG Ayres continued in government service as the General Counsel for the U.S. Air Force. He left that position in 2021.44

Major General Stuart W. “Stu” Risch

Major General Stuart W. “Stu” Risch succeeded Ayres as DJAG in August 2017. Commissioned through the Army ROTC, and a Seton Hall University School of Law graduate, Risch entered the JAG Corps in 1988. He subsequently served three tours at Fort Hood, Texas: Trial Counsel and Chief of Military Justice, 1st Cavalry Division; Deputy SJA, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized); and SJA, III Corps. Major General Risch also was the SJA at both the 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He is a veteran of Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and NEW DAWN. In 2021, MG Risch was promoted to lieutenant general and assumed duties as TJAG.45

Major General Joseph B. Berger

At the time this article was written, the DJAG was Major General Joseph B. Berger. A 1992 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Berger began his career in the Military Police Corps before attending law school on the Funded Legal Education Program. Since entering the Corps, MG Berger has served in various assignments, including: Regimental Judge Advocate, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; SJA, Joint Special Operations Command; and SJA, U.S. Army Cyber Command. Prior to assuming duties as the twenty-second DJAG, Berger was the Commanding General and Commandant, TJAGLCS.46


While the position of DJAG has existed for fewer than fifteen years, the idea of an “Assistant” to TJAG has a much longer history. The first formal recognition that the top uniformed lawyer in the Army needed an assistant originated in the 19th century, but it was not until the JAGD became a Corps that Congress formally authorized an assistant by legislation. For many years, this assistant held the same rank as TJAG—which meant that the Corps had two major generals at the same time. Since 2008, however, DJAG has been the only two-star officer in the Army’s legal branch.

Finally, while it might seem otherwise, the elevation of TAJAG or DJAG to TJAG has not been unique in Army history. Major General George Hickman served briefly as TAJAG before becoming TJAG in 1957; Major General Robert McCaw served three years in the No. 2 spot before being elevated to TJAG; and, in the 1980s, both Hugh Clausen and Hugh Overholt served as TAJAG before being appointed as TJAG. The appointment of MG Stuart Risch as TJAG, however, is the first time that an elevation from the No. 2 spot to the top position in the Corps has brought with it a promotion to a rank of three-stars. TAL

Mr. Borch is the Regimental Historian, Archivist, and Professor of Legal History and Leadership at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia.


1. Judge Advoc. Gen.’s Corps, The Army Lawyer: A History of The Judge Advocate General’s Corps, 1775–1975, at 73 (1975). It was not until January 1924 that “the Judge Advocate General” or “tJAG” became “The Judge Advocate General” or “TJAG.” Id. at 139.

2. Id. at 84.

3. Id. at 90–91. Recognizing that the Army likely would need more judge advocates than authorized, Congress did provide that line officers could be appointed as “acting judge advocates”; however, it was with the rank and pay of captain for “each geographic department or tactical division” that did not have a member of the JAGD assigned to it. Id.

4. Id. at 138.

5. Washington News and Views: Four Assistants JAG, Judge Advoc. J., June 1944, at 30.

6. Memorandum from Major General Thomas H. Green, The Judge Advoc. Gen., to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, War Dep’t Gen. Staff, subject: Recommendation for Promotion (May 20, 1946) (on file with author) [hereinafter Recommendation for Promotion Memorandum].

7. Press Release, Off. of Pub. Info. Press Branch, Major General Hubert Don Hoover (15 Dec. 1949) (on file with author).

8. Selective Service Act of 1948, ch. 625, 62 Stat. 604 (1948). The legislation also provided that the Corps would have three general officers in the rank of brigadier general, and it stated that the number of judge advocates would be no less than one-and-one-half percent of the authorized strength of the regular Army. Id.

9. Fred Borch, 1963 Wire Diagram (illustration) (on file with author); Fred Borch, 1983 Wire Diagram (illustration) (on file with author).

10. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-181 § 543(a), 122 Stat. 3, 114 (2008).

11. Fred Borch, 2010 Wire Diagram (illustration) (on file with author).

12. Recommendation for Promotion Memorandum, supra note 6.

13. Id.

14. Id. See also War Department Adjutant General’s Form 67-1, Efficiency Report, Hubert D. Hoover, 1 June 1948 to 31 May 1949, 3 July 1949.

15. Email from Major General (Retired) William K. Suter to author (Apr. 30, 2021, 10:04 AM) (on file with author).

16. Telephone interview with Major General (Retired) Thomas J. Romig (Apr. 30, 2021).

17. U.S. Dep’t of the Army, DA Form 67-9-1, Officer Evaluation Report Support Form, Ayres, Thomas E. (Oct. 2011) (on file with author); email from Lieutenant Colonel Shay Stanford to author (May 5, 2021) (on file with author).

18.Major Cicero C. Sessions, The Branch Offices: Two Years of Achievement in MTO, Judge Advoc. J., Mar. 1945, at 46.

19. Memorandum from Major General Thomas H. Green to Dir., Pers. & Admin., War Dep’t Gen. Staff, subject: Recommendation for Promotion (Aug. 16, 1946) (on file with author).

20. General Promotions—JAG—Army: Major General Franklin P. Shaw, Judge Advoc. J., Jan. 1950, at 3, 3–4.

21. Honor Roll: Legion of Merit, Judge Advoc. J., Sept. 15, 1944, at 59.

22. Id.

23. Major General Caffey was forced to retire for his outspoken endorsement of racial segregation. For more on Caffey and his career, see Fred L. Borch, The Remarkable—and Tempestuous—Career of a Judge Advocate General: Eugene Mead Caffey, Army Law., May 2014, at 1, 1–6.

24. Stanley W. Jones Dies, Wash. Post (Dec. 3, 1982),

25. Judge Advoc. Gen.’s Corps, supra note 1, at 238–39.

26. Id.

27. U.S. Dep’t of Army, Pam. 27-101-150, Appointment of The Assistant Judge Advocate General (1964); Harry J. Engel, U.S. Army Off. Candidate Sch. Alumni Ass’n: Hall of Fame, (last visited June 4, 2021).

28. Supra note 27.

29. Obituaries, Wash. Post, (last visited June 4, 2021).

30. Major Percival D. Park, The Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, 1975–1982, 96 Mil. L. Rev. 5, 14 (1982).

31. Id. at 11.

32. Id. at 12–13.

33. The first six judge advocate basic classes were held at TJAGSA on South Post, Fort Myer, Virginia.

34. Id.

35. Id. at 16–17.

36. Resumes of Retired Officers, Gen. Officer Mgmt. Off., (last visited June 4, 2021) (login is required to access this website; MG Suter’s resume can be found by searching under the retired officers with last names starting with “S”).

37. Clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States, Wikipedia, (Jan. 24, 2021).

38. Resumes of Retired Officers, supra note 36 (MG Gray’s resume can be found by searching under the retired officers with last names starting with “G”). See also Fred L. Borch III, A Brief History of African Americans in the JAG Corps, Army Law., no. 5, 2019, at 14.

39. Borch, supra note 38, at 14.

40. Resumes of Retired Officers, supra note 36 (MG Altenburg’s resume can be found by searching under the retired officers with last names starting with “A”).

41. Id.

42. Id. (MG Wright’s resume can be found by searching under the retired officers with last names starting with “W”).

43. Resumes of Retired Officers, supra note 36 (MG Tate’s resume can be found by searching under the retired officers with last names starting with “T”).

44. Id.

45. Resumes of Active Officers, Gen. Officer. Mgmt. Off., (last visited June 22, 2021) (MG Risch’s resume can be found by searching under the active officers with last names starting with “R”).

46. Id.