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NEWS | Feb. 11, 2020

Legally proficient, wherever the call

By Lt. Col. Keith Hickox

Dozens of legal professionals from at least five different states attended an officer professional development event hosted by the Pennsylvania National Guard (PANG) at Fort Indiantown Gap on Feb. 8.

The event focused on the legal aspects of military domestic operations and professional responsibility with an audience that included Army and Air Force judge advocates from guard, reserve and active duty as well as civilian legal professionals.

Several general and field-grade officers presented detailed information and professional perspectives on topics related to military domestic operations. Attendees were able to earn two continuing legal education credits, made available through Widener Commonwealth Law School. 

According to Maj. Jeffrey Wallitsch, judge advocate, PANG, the legal challenges in domestic operations are very different than those in combat operations.  

“It is important to talk about domestic operations and be familiar with it ahead of time, rather than trying to figure it out during the operation,” said Wallitsch.

Having representation from multiple states served a key purpose at the event. 

“Heavy state-to-state interaction and a wide variety of state-level decisions are often a part of domestic responses,” said Col. Robert Cameron, judge advocate, PANG. “It’s better for us to get to know each other here and gain a shared understanding to help us work together when we have to.”

This event, now in its sixth year, was the vision of Col. Robert DeSousa, state judge advocate, Joint Force Headquarters, PANG. 

“It’s unique that its guard hosted but active duty, guard and reserve, both Army and Air Force attend,” said DeSousa.  

This professional development event caps off DeSousa’s 27-year Army career as his retirement ceremony ended the day’s activities. At that ceremony he was presented multiple recognitions including the Legion of Merit.