I’m in favor of divesting commanders of their prosecutorial discretion for all serious offenses.
But, even I acknowledge that this poll did not convey the arguments of those who favor a commander-driven system faithfully. Specifically, the wording of the poll completely failed to account for the most prominent argument by those who wish to have commanders retain their authority to prosecute offenders: that a commander’s ability to compel his or her subordinates to follow orders that may kill them or require them to kill another human being depends on that commander’s ability to punish those subordinates for any and all noncompliance, including criminality.
Additionally, I don’t know that I would describe judge advocates as “independent” of the chain of command. Judge advocates depend on their service for their office’s funding, manpower, promotions, assignments for them and their families, and even their continued appointment as commissioned officers. A judge advocate is first and foremost a commissioned military officer. Any appearance of independence is, at best, theoretical. Even when they wear a robe.
Week In Review