2013] CLAMO CELEBRATES TWENTY-FIVE YEARS 193
“CLAMO” AT 25: THE CENTER FOR LAW AND MILITARY
OPERATIONS CELEBRATES TWENTY-FIVE YEARS1
FRED L. BORCH*
In December 2013, the Center for Law and Military Operations
(CLAMO) celebrated its 25th anniversary as an Army institution.
Established by then Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh, Jr. in
December 1988,2 CLAMO grew out of the experiences of judge
advocates in Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 and the
recognition gained from other similar events that domestic and
international law affected the planning for, and conduct and sustainment
of, U.S. military operations. This idea behind CLAMO was that it would
examine legal issues arising during military operations, and then devise
“training strategies”3 for addressing those issues. Stated another way,
CLAMO would gather legal lessons learned from military operations,
analyze those lessons, and then disseminate them to judge advocates
throughout the Army—and the entire Defense Department.4 This would
ensure that uniformed lawyers advising commanders during operations
not only profited from the experiences of their predecessors grappling
* Regimental Historian and Archivist for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s
Corps. He graduated from Davidson College (A.B., 1976), from the University of North
Carolina (J.D., 1979), and from the University of Brussels, Belgium (LL.M, magna cum
laude, International and Comparative Law, 1980). Mr. Borch also has advanced degrees
in military law (LL.M., The Judge Advocate General's School, 1988), National Security
Studies (M.A., highest distinction, Naval War College, 2001), and history (M.A.,
University of Virginia, 2007). From 2012 to 2013, Mr. Borch was a Fulbright Scholar in
the Netherlands, where he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Leiden and a
Visiting Researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Military History.
Colonel (Retired) Fred Borch is the author of a number of books and articles on
legal and non-legal topics, including Judge Advocates in Combat: Army Lawyers in
Military Operations from Vietnam to Haiti (2001), and Judge Advocates in Vietnam:
Army Lawyers in Southeast Asia (2004). His latest book is Medals for Soldiers and
Airmen: Awards and Decorations of the United States Army and Air Force (2013).
1 A previous version of this article, titled Spotlight on: The Center for Law and Military
Operations, appeared in The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School’s
Annual Bulletin, 2012–2013, at 13, available at http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/
2 Memorandum from John O. Marsh, Jr., Sec’y of Army, for The Judge Advocate
General, subject: Establishment of a Center for Law and Military Operations (21 Dec.
1988) [hereinafter Marsh Memorandum], reprinted in ARMY LAW., Apr. 1989, at 3.
3 CLAMO Moves Forward, REGIMENTAL REPORTER 1 (Fall 1996).
194 MILITARY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 217
with similar legal issues, but also would help these same judge advocates
avoid any legal pitfalls or failures that had occurred in past military
operations. What follows is the story of CLAMO’s first twenty-five
years in operation. It begins with a look at the impetus for the creation of
CLAMO before examining the evolution of CLAMO in the 1990s and
2000s. This article concludes with some thoughts on the future of
CLAMO. Finally, two appendices contain information on those judge
advocates who have been a part of CLAMO and publications produced
II. Origins of CLAMO
Since the decision to create CLAMO resulted from the emergence of
operational law (OPLAW) as a distinct practice area in the Judge
Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC), a brief discussion of why and how
OPLAW came to exist is necessary.
On March 16, 1968, members of Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th
Infantry Regiment, an element of the Americal Division, murdered some
350 innocent Vietnamese civilians at the small village of My Lai. After
an investigation concluded that First Lieutenant William F. Calley and
twelve men under his command were chiefly responsible for the killings,
Calley was charged with the murder of 109 civilians.5 While the twelve
other soldiers also were charged with murder, only Calley was
convicted.6 On 29 March 1971, Calley was found guilty of premeditated
murder by a general court-martial convened at Fort Benning, Georgia,
and sentenced to life imprisonment.7
While action taken by the convening authority and others
subsequently resulted in Calley being paroled in 1974,8 the end of
“Rusty” Calley’s legal problems did not diminish the negative fall-out
from what was (and is) popularly called the “My Lai Massacre.”9 On the
contrary, the killings at My Lai caused much soul searching and
consternation among Americans in general. The ramifications of this
5 WILLIAM M. HAMMOND, PUBLIC AFFAIRS: THE MILITARY AND THE MEDIA, 1968–1973,
U.S. ARMY IN VIETNAM 220–24 (1996).
7 United States v. Calley, 46 C.M.R. 1131 (A.C.M.R. 1973)
8 HAMMOND, supra note 5, at 252.
9 RICHARD HAMMER, THE COURT-MARTIAL OF LT. CALLEY 18 (1971).