JAG Journal, Days 4 & 5: U.S., Tanzanian militaries share more legal similarities than differences

U.S. and Tanzanian military legal members pose for a group photo during the Military Law Symposium held at the Peacekeeping Training Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. During the symposium, the two militaries exchanged ideas on legal investigations, introduction to operational law and introduction to military justice. (Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa courtesy photo)

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Deegan and U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Peter Tunis, CJTF-HOA judge advocate generals, and U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Sciapli, USARAF judge advocate general, traveled to East Africa to exchange of legal practices with the Tanzanian Peoples’ Defense Force.

Here’s the final day-by-day recap of the visit to Dar es Salaam … (Read Day 1 and Days 2 & 3).

Day 4: Operational Law

On day four, U.S. and Tanzanian team members discussed rules of engagement, the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and the role of operational law attorneys in the U.S. military. The LOAC brief addressed the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Convention, strategic misconduct and the code of conduct soldiers are expected to follow in combat. Beyond the international policies that drove the conventions, the benefits of following LOAC were discussed through the lens of adding legitimacy to a nation’s position in a conflict, furthering that nation’s interests.

The participants also weighed in on the rules of engagement and subjecting service members to criminal jurisdiction under the International Criminal Court.

Maj. Shija Lupi, legal officer and military police commander, Tanzanian 603rd Air Transport Station, highlighted issues from one of his deployments to Lebanon.

“ROE should also include cultural awareness for the area where the contingency [force] is going,” said Lupi.

Tunis then gave an overview of Joint Operational Planning Process, ROE working groups, and the Joint Operations Center concept.

The U.S. and TPDF also discussed application of the planning concepts to experiences of U.S. military attorneys at Combined Task Force – Horn of Africa and in Afghanistan.

Day 5: The Tanzanian Military Justice System

On the last day of the symposium, Mbindi facilitated discussion about the Tanzanian Military Justice System. This was followed by one final block of instruction by Deegan on the role of the staff judge advocate.

The TPDF then conducted a ceremony concluding the week’s exchange of legal practices. Each TPDF judge advocate was presented a certificate by their U.S. counterparts for attending the military law symposium, while each of the U.S. participants was presented wood carvings made by local Tanzanian artisans.

Tunis was deeply moved by the gesture.

“The gift was touching and incredibly thoughtful,” said Tunis. “The three of us were humbled by their generosity. You could really relate to the sense of national pride in the gifts they chose. The same way that many Americans feel about buying things that say ‘Made in the USA’ was the same way that the TPDF felt.”

Deegan summed up the traveling contact team’s week-long endeavor.

“We learned that the U.S. and Tanzania militaries have many more similarities in military law than differences,” said Deegan. “The week was a huge success that we hope transcends to future engagements.”

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