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JAG Corps offers accessions programs

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The Air Force's Judge Advocate General Corps gives company-grade officers two opportunities during January through March to join their ranks.

The programs, the Funded Legal Education Program and the Excess Leave Program, allow active-duty officers to pursue law degrees without leaving the Air Force and then serve in the JAG Corps. Both programs, which provide the Air Force with lawyers who already have a good understanding of the military, begin accepting applications in January, JAG officials said.

“The (programs) round out the JAG Corps by supplying a cadre of uniquely experienced officers who combine law school educations with operational Air Force time,” said Maj. Rachel VanLandingham, recruiting branch chief for the Air Force Office of the Judge Advocate General.

As a result, the Air Force gets mature legal advisers with a unique understanding of Air Force missions. “The goal of both programs is to provide commanders with the best legal advice possible, tailored to evolving Air Force needs,” Major VanLandingham said.

FLEP is a paid legal-studies program. Program applicants must be active-duty captains with between two and six years of active-duty service as of the first day of law school.

The ELP is an unpaid legal-studies program. Program applicants must have two to 10 years’ active-duty service before entering law school. They must also be captains with less than three years of time in grade or below as of the first day of law school.

“We would like as many applicants as possible from junior officers representing all career fields across the Air Force,” Major VanLandingham said.

Both programs are very competitive, the major said. The overall 2004 selection rate for the programs was 18 percent, according to the JAG recruiting Web site.

Potential candidates frequently ask me what they can do to make themselves more competitive,” Major VanLandingham said. “That’s the wrong way to approach their careers. It may sound trite, but the best thing young Air Force officers can do for themselves is to give 100 percent to their current duties,” she said.

The major also advised applicants to participate in professional groups, such as local company grade officers councils, that will enhance their chances to be selected for the programs and at the same time help them become better officers and individuals.

Experienced officers are viewed as force-multipliers for the JAG Corps.

JAG officers routinely participate in nearly every facet of the Air Force mission, including developing and acquiring weapons systems and ensuring availability of airspace and ranges where those systems are tested and operated. They also consult with commanders about how those systems are used in armed conflict and assist in the day-to-day running of military installations worldwide.

Applicants must have completed all application forms and applied to a law school that has been accredited by the American Bar Association; however, acceptance into the school is not required at time of application. They must also receive their Law School Admissions Test results and complete a staff judge advocate interview by March 1.

Qualifications are found in Air Force Instruction 51-101, Judge Advocate Accession Program, and online at www.jagusaf.hq.af.mil.

For more information, contact Major VanLandingham at rachel.vanlandingham@pentagon.af.mil, or call (800) 524-8723.

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