Report raises questions about commanders’ ability to handle legal decisions

The DoD Reporter Diary is a weekly recap of personnel, acquisition, technology, and management stories that may have passed under your radar over the past week, but are important nonetheless. It is compiled and published every Monday by reporters from the Federal News Network DoD Jared serbu and Scott Maucione.

A growing body of evidence is emerging that military commanders may not be prepared to handle the complex legal decisions entrusted to them, such as knowing when to prosecute a crime.

A report of the Government Accountability Office found that the military services were unable to report on the legal training taken by military commanders. Additionally, the GAO found that legal training is generally intended for mid-level commanders, who may have previously held command positions and whose decisions could have benefited from the courses. The GAO also found that commanders of similar ranks and legal responsibilities may not have the same level of training.

The report is more fodder for two bills with strong bipartisan support that are currently making their way to Congress. The bills would remove non-military crimes from the chain of command and hand them over to an independent prosecutor.

Military service leaders have spoken out against the complete removal of all non-military crimes from the chain of command, saying it would jeopardize good order and discipline.

Experts have testified before Congress that commanders are not legal professionals and therefore are not equipped to make the decisions for which they are responsible.

According to the GAO, the military services do not have complete records of whether their commanders even received the legal training required to make these decisions.

“Officers who held command positions in 2019 received dedicated legal training at varying rates depending on the service and rank of the commander,” the report’s authors wrote. “For example, at grade O-6, completion rates range from 38% for the Marine Corps to 95% for the Navy.”

GAO has heard stories of missing data variables and inconsistent attendance records.

GAO investigators found that even when commanders took courses, the training sometimes did not meet the legal needs of the decisions commanders had to make.

“Navy participants in two of our four commanding officers’ focus groups said they did not feel ready to deal with legal issues,” the authors wrote. “For example, a Navy O-5 commander said that legal training was not enough and most of what they knew did not come from training but from intuition.”

GAO reported that there were more positive than negative reviews of the preparation.

“Commanders in 13 of our 15 commanders focus groups and 10 of the 16 semi-structured general officer interviews reported that commanders are generally prepared to deal with the legal issues they face,” the investigators wrote. GAO. “Participants in 13 of the 15 commanders’ focus groups and eight of the 16 semi-structured interviews expressed a feeling that they were prepared because of their ability to call a lawyer for help. An O-6 Army commander in a focus group said that commanders are not expected to know everything and therefore call their lawyers when legal issues arise. “

The GAO suggested that given the differences in legal training between ranks and the fact that military personnel may hold multiple command positions throughout their careers, officers would benefit from more in-depth legal training.

The authors of the report offer 15 recommendations. These include using a recording system to better track training data in military services and finding ways to survey commanders more often for better course feedback. – SM

Microsoft has until the end of July to calculate the costs of the now canceled JEDI contract

After deciding to finally end litigation JEDI Cloud sourcing last week, the government wasted no time in putting the litigation that has hampered sourcing for years behind it.

Within 48 hours after defense officials told reporters they were canceling JEDI, attorneys for the Department of Justice filed a movement ask the Federal Claims Court to dismiss Amazon’s long-standing legal challenge as moot; Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith granted the request the same day, since neither Amazon nor Microsoft objected.

According to the contract termination notice The DoD sent Microsoft last week the company has until July 30 to bill the government for all billable costs it incurred as part of ending the ill-fated cloud effort.

“You are requested to destroy all data stored in the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the JEDI cloud contract in question,” the notice reads. “While the government expects this to be a free termination, subject to the terms of the JEDI Cloud contract, you have the option of providing the government with a proposal for termination fees. “

It is unclear how large these expenses would be, as Microsoft and the DoD have been subject to a court order to stop all work on JEDI since February 2020. At this point, the department had only issued Microsoft a single task order for $ 1 million, the minimum. collateral for what was supposed to be a multi-billion dollar contract.

Another bigger upcoming deadline in DoD’s enterprise cloud plans comes next week.

The Pentagon said last week that to date Amazon and Microsoft, to the best of its knowledge, are the only two companies with the technical capability to handle the work that will be required under the JEDI replacement contract, dubbed Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability (JWCC). Other cloud providers have until July 20 to submit “capacity statements” arguing that they too should be part of the JWCC, according to a pre-solicitation notice the ministry released last week.

Defense officials have said the written statements are only part of the market research the DoD plans to conduct by October, when the Pentagon will issue direct solicitations to any companies it believes it can perform in. under the JWCC.

As part of the process, John Sherman, DoD’s acting chief information officer, told reporters last Tuesday that he plans to meet one-on-one with the heads of the five cloud providers. ” hyperscale ”based in the United States, including Google, IBM and Oracle.

These three companies were found not to meet the DoD “entry criteria” defined for JEDI and were excluded from review in this market. Oracle challenged its exclusion by protesting to the Government Accountability Office and the Court of Federal Claims. After losing these cases, she appealed unsuccessfully to a federal appeals court and then to the United States Supreme Court.

Monday morning, Oracle had not decided to withdraw its request to the Supreme Court, leaving this case as the last vestige of a legal drama that has enveloped JEDI for nearly three years. —JS

DoD waives online grocery fees until further notice

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the world’s shops and military commissioners are no different.

Earlier this summer, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced that it would expand its CLICK2GO program to all commissioners in the United States by the end of the year and to commissioners abroad soon after.

Now, the agency says its ecommerce option is waiving its $ 5 service fee until at least the end of the year.

“We’re only weeks away from launch and Internet grocery shopping has continued to grow dramatically nationwide, so we’re excited to be able to waive service charges for a limited time to encourage this growing convenience.” more popular for our clients to take advantage of their curatorial advantage, ”said Bill Moore, director and CEO of DeCA.

Previously, buyers could get one month of service at no cost after signing up.

“We are committed to establishing a strong presence in e-commerce in accordance with DeCA’s strategic objectives to make the commissary advantage accessible to as many customers as possible,” said Moore. “Commissary CLICK2GO builds on the vital benefit we offer exclusively to our military community and their families – we are saving the money and now we’ve made it easier and more convenient. “

The Food Marketing Institute recently reported that online grocery shopping has reached rates previously unpredictable since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF had estimated that 20% of all grocery shopping in the United States would be made online by 2025. However, the expected online grocery sales rates over a 10-year period actually occurred in only six months.

The extension is part of the Commissary CLICK2GO program, which provides users with an online portal to make their purchases.

The program is now enhanced to optimize navigation and search functions, provide improved product details, and provide sales and promotions.

Improvements also include revenue, order history, and online payment.

CLICK2GO already serves Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, Fts. Belvoir, Eustis and Lee in Virginia, Fort. Polk in Louisiana, Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia, Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

A wide band of bases are projected to get service by the end of July.

This year, Military Commissioners opened to 4.1 million new customers.

The changes were mandated by Congress as part of last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. Veterans with a service-related disability, Purple Heart recipients, and former POWs will be permitted to shop at base grocery and retail stores. Their caregivers will also be eligible. The military services are changing their access control procedures so that eligible veterans can access the base using their Department of Veterans Affairs health ID cards. – SM

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