ARCHIVED - Chapter 2: JAG Mission & Vision

In January 2011, the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and his senior leadership team unveiled a new strategic guidance document to all civilian and military members of the Office of the JAG (OJAG). The new JAG Mission and Vision was the result of months of analysis, discussions, and examination of lessons learned, as well as consultations with senior Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and departmental officials, including the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff, and the Deputy Minister.

The intent was to provide a clear and unified policy touchstone, against which all future OJAG activities could be measured. The desired outcome was to orient all members of the OJAG, military and civilian, toward the same goals, and to ensure that in pursuing those goals, members of the OJAG could refer to a shared set of principles to guide and shape their actions. Put simply, if the work being done by OJAG personnel cannot be linked to the strategic objectives set out in the Mission and Vision, then it may be time to re-examine the nature of that work, and/or how it is being carried out.

The impact of the Mission and Vision has been significant. It has given members of the OJAG a common direction, and it has assisted in significantly reducing the expenditure of precious resources on “ad hoc” and unplanned activities. Furthermore, it has publicly highlighted how important it is to take care of our people. As a “low-density, high-demand” resource, legal officers and supporting personnel can easily be tasked beyond capacity in an effort to keep up with insatiable demand for military legal services in both official languages. The new direction specifically recognizes this reality and works to harmonize the competing interests of institutional demand for the provision of legal services and the well-being of the members of the OJAG.

The members of the OJAG are operationalizing the Mission and Vision to improve their effectiveness, well-being, and the quality of their service to Canada. They are doing this by setting priorities in a more focussed manner, by seeking work-life balance, by providing advice in a more targeted and concise manner, and by planning ahead to better align resources with demand.

The JAG and the CWO saluting in an official JAG ceremony.

The JAG draws upon the first-hand experience of his JAG Chief Warrant Officer, CWO Gaudreau, in military justice matters.

Mission

In support of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence, the Office of the Judge Advocate General delivers independent, operationally focussed, solution oriented legal advice and services across the full spectrum of military law, and superintends the administration of military justice.

Vision

To be an agile military team of world class, operationally focussed, globally deployable and networked legal professionals, proudly contributing to a disciplined force and mission success in a manner that reflects Canadian values and the rule of law.

Judge Advocate General's Intent

The Office of the JAG will become more responsive, relevant and effective in enabling the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence and Canada in achieving mission success. Responsiveness will be enhanced through the delivery of dynamic, timely, solution oriented and operationally focussed legal advice and services, particularly in times of crisis at home and around the world.

Strategic legal engagement and outreach both inside the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence, and with key external partners, will enhance the relevancy of our work. The Office will be more effective through the adaptation and optimization of its highly motivated, world class team of specialized legal professionals and support personnel. This is a team that has and will continue to provide legal services across the full spectrum of Canadian Armed Forces operations, especially in deployed joint interoperable missions in Canada and worldwide.

At the same time, as the superintendent of the administration of military justice, the Judge Advocate General, with the support of the legal officers, will ensure that as the military justice system evolves it remains a unique, fair and efficient self-contained system that is an integral part of the Canadian legal system. The Office of the JAG will proactively support the chain of command on legal and legal policy matters impacting on discipline, while being direct and fearless in promoting the rights and interests of Canadian Armed Forces members in individual disciplinary cases.

To carry out the JAG’s intent, the Office of the JAG will rely on the members of a unique institution who serve in, and are accountable to, the professions of arms and the law. This team of independent, specialized, networked, mobile professionals will provide the legal advice and services required by the chain of command and the military justice system, often in profound circumstances where life or liberty are at stake.

Importantly, it must be recognized that in executing this intent, our people and their families are essential to everything that we do. We must continue to improve how we recruit, train, educate, develop, deploy and employ our professionals to ensure we are properly focussed on our operational missions and the maintenance of the rule of law. Individual and family welfare will be a crucial consideration in leadership decisions made at all levels. We simply cannot achieve mission success without taking proper care of our people.

To achieve the JAG mission and vision, the Office of the Judge Advocate General will be:

  • A responsive, force enabling provider of legal advice and services in all areas of military law, including all areas pertaining to military operations, whether domestic or international.
  • A force for proactive military justice oversight, responsible development and positive change.
  • A dynamic world class team of specialized professionals and support personnel that punches well above its weight.
  • Vigilant in leading and caring for our people and their families.

Lieutenant-Colonel MacGregor delivers an address to the Canadian Bar Association while the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, looks on.

Strategic Goal #1

Deliver responsive, force-enabling legal advice and services in all areas of military law.

Operational, policy and administrative authorities are entrusted with the responsibility to make decisions, including those respecting the professional lives of Canadian Armed Forces members, life and liberty, and the role Canada plays in the world. Such decisions often involve significant risk and conflicting priorities, and may have to be made in days, hours or minutes in a dynamic environment. The responsibility of these decision-makers is profound. It is in this context that the Office of the Judge Advocate General must deliver responsive, force-enabling legal advice and services in all areas of military law in a manner that achieves the following four strategic objectives.

Strategic Objectives

1.1 Provide operationally focussed, solution oriented, independent legal advice and services.

1.2 Champion fairness, effectiveness and efficiency in the application of military discipline.

1.3 Promote the fair, just, effective and responsive administration of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.

1.4 Effect strategic legal engagement

Strategic Goal #2

Lead proactive military justice oversight, responsible development and positive change.

Military justice is a unique, self-contained system that is an integral part of the Canadian legal mosaic. This strategic goal and subordinate objectives reflect the Judge Advocate General’s superintendence, reporting and review functions set out in the National Defence Act. The Office of the Judge Advocate General performs this legislatively mandated stewardship function in furtherance of the operational mandate of the Canadian Armed Forces and the requirement of the military justice system to both be, and be seen as a fair adjudicative system.

Strategic Objectives

2.1 Discharge the statutorily mandated superintendence function in a manner that facilitates the fair and efficient administration of Canada’s military justice system.

2.2 Advance the principled development of the military justice system ensuring it continues to be fair, efficient and responsive to the unique needs of the Canadian Armed Forces within Canada’s free and democratic society.

2.3 Promote a broad understanding of the military justice system.

Legal Officers complete intermediate training on military justice, administrative law, and, as in this photo, field-based operational law.

Strategic Goal #3

Optimize a dynamic world class team of specialized legal professionals and support personnel that punches well above its weight.

We are a low-density high demand team of military and civilian professionals. We are world class in many areas, and this has allowed us to lead in the shaping of domestic and international legal frameworks, which in turn has facilitated Canadian Armed Forces, Departmental and Governmental mission success. Our core strength is our people and their expertise. The Office of the JAG intends to enhance its effectiveness by ensuring our ability to deliver independent legal advice is preserved. The Office of the JAG will develop all aspects of resource allocation, career progression and legal knowledge and expertise, in a planned, proactive and structured way that is neither ad hoc nor crisis driven.

Strategic Objectives

3.1 Preserve and promote the independence required to ensure the delivery of candid legal advice from a military perspective.

3.2 Achieve high levels of efficiency and effectiveness in furtherance of all strategic goals.

3.3 Attract, develop, train, educate, retain and empower high quality professionals to achieve excellence in all areas of military law.

3.4 Demonstrate legal knowledge management and legal information mastery.

Military and civilian members of the Office of JAG participate in the Red Shirt Walk-Run in support of those who support the CAF.

Strategic Goal #4

Be vigilant leaders in caring for our people and their families.

As a low density, high demand organization, the requirement for our legal services has consistently exceeded our resources, imposing significant stress on our people. While our people have always stepped up and met the challenge, it has come at a cost--to them and to their families. In keeping with the Judge Advocate General’s intent, we will be operationally focussed and solution oriented. At the same time, we will ensure that we are able to care for and support our people, military and civilian – recognizing that they are the core strength of the organization and fundamental to our ability to meet all other strategic goals. Individual and family welfare will be an important consideration in leadership decisions taken at all levels. Innovative and novel means of balancing the unique, and often unavoidable, stresses of military service will be actively pursued in advancing the well-being of our people and their families.

Strategic Objectives

4.1 Create a working environment that will allow people to maintain a reasonable balance between their home life and workplace responsibilities.

4.2 Responsibly prioritize taskings and resource accordingly.

This strategic goal is also complemented by the JAG Work-Life Balance Directive that was significantly updated in November 2010.

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