Integrated legal team supports global AFIMSC, DAF mission

  • Published
  • By Malcolm McClendon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Judge Advocate Office delivers timely, accurate and proactive legal advice and counsel across AFIMSC’s global mission.

“While AFIMSC has its own legal office (AFIMSC/JA), like any other AFIMSC organization it coordinates and works with offices at all levels of command and around the globe,” said Col. Scott Hodges, AFIMSC’s Staff Judge Advocate.

The Judge Advocate office is divided into three specialized divisions.

  • The Administrative Law Division provides fiscal advice to the AFIMSC Resources Directorate, support for commander directed investigations, legal support for Freedom of Information Act appeals processed within the AFIMSC Installation Support Directorate, legal counsel for the Air Force Security Forces Center, and ethics advice, training and review of public financial and confidential financial disclosure forms for the entire center.
  • The Acquisitions Law Division focuses on supporting the 772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center with the full range of acquisition legal support, such as environmental acquisition, specialized acquisition, the Air Force Contract Augmentation Program, utility acquisition and construction.
  • The Services Law Division supports the full range of legal needs for the Air Force Services Center such as moral, welfare and recreation program legal challenges, non-appropriated funds fiscal law and contract reviews, NAF personnel issues and worker’s compensation claims, commercial sponsorships, and provides subject matter expertise to major command and installation legal offices.

With its team of 28 active duty, reserve and civilian Airmen, the legal team’s support extends across the center’s headquarters and primary subordinate units to the 10 detachments which serve as liaisons and on-site support between the MAJCOMS or service where they’re located and the AFIMSC enterprise.

That support and collaboration was on display earlier this year when AFIMSC’s Detachment 2 (at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii) responded to a fuel spill at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, Hodges said.

“It received a good amount of attention from the media and the Secretary of the Air Force; there were a lot of players in that response, and we contributed coordinated legal support necessary to ensure the Department of the Air Force had a solid restoration plan,” he said.

Maj. Lukas Morse, chief of the future enterprise division for AFIMSC’s Detachment 1 at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, wrote the incident report for the spill. AFIMSC Detachment 1 supports the Space Force.

“AFIMSC’s legal team provided multiple reviews of the incident report to make sure it was clear and concise, and legally sound, taking a huge amount of stress away and letting me focus on the mission,” he said. “Additionally, they worked with Pacific Air Forces legal team to find ways for our team to best collaborate and manage remediation efforts with local community partners and advisors.”  

The Judge Advocate office supports offices across the entire DAF as well.

“We provide legal reviews for all DAF Antideficiency Act investigations, which are referred to the Resources Directorate by the Air Force Financial Management and Comptroller,” Hodges said. “We also review all the Freedom of Information Act appeals.”

These requests are now streamlined, because of increased organizational effectiveness facilitated by the creation of AFIMSC in 2015, and subsequent consolidation of the Air Force’s installation and mission support capabilities, he added.

“In the past, the FOIA appeal process and ADA reviews were handled by 10 MAJCOM legal offices that really didn't have much experience in handling those; it was basically a pickup game for whichever attorney was available at the time,” Hodges said. “Now, we have very experienced, dedicated attorneys in our office who handle all of those appeals and reviews, and it’s a big win for the Air Force, because there’s a lot of litigation risk that come with those.

“And we've gained some organizational efficiencies internally as well,” added Hodges.

Hodges said centralization at AFIMSC has also facilitated professional development within the team.

“We’re able to collaborate and integrate more easily, and learn from each other, so what you get is a highly trained and experienced legal team ready to support the whole of AFIMSC, said Hodges. “So, if you have a legal question or simply don’t know what legal office you're supposed to be talking to, start with us. We’ll make sure you’re working with the right legal team.”