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Congratulations and Tribute to Commander Michael J. Adams–from Current and Former Senior Government Attorneys

Mike Adams, who will be familiar to many Just Security readers for his writings, is also familiar to many for his distinguished career in the service of our nation. At a ripe young age, Mike is retiring from the military, and today there will be a retirement ceremony in his honor. I came to know Mike best and witness his professional excellence when I recently served for a year in the Pentagon, where he was Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To know Mike is to deeply admire Mike. I asked leaders in government service to send me their thoughts. This collection speaks volumes about Mike as an extraordinary person and public servant.

Rear Admiral (lower half) Del Crandall, JAGC, U. S. Navy, Legal Counsel to the Chairman the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“Mike will be greatly missed by the Navy and the Joint Force — by both operators and lawyers alike.  He is a brilliant legal mind, a sterling naval officer, a true patriot, and a committed husband and father.  We are all better for having served with him.  I wish Mike all the best in his future endeavors.
Fair winds and following seas.”

Brian Egan, Former Department of State Legal Adviser; Former NSC Legal Adviser:

“Mike reflects the best of the USG national security legal community — smart, articulate, hard-working, open to hearing opposing views, and a terrific colleague.  He was a tremendous asset to, and ambassador for, the JAG community.”

Chris Fonzone, Former NSC Legal Adviser:

“Working in the Government, the questions that arise are frequently difficult and the timelines are often tight.  When he was at Chairman’s Legal, Mike always seemed to be working the hardest issues with the shortest deadlines.  That was an excellent thing for our country, and I’m guessing not an accident:  Mike is a fantastic lawyer and, more importantly, a great colleague.  I wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement, even if, as a citizen, I’m sad to see him go.”

Colonel Matthew Grant, U.S. Air Force, Principal Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“Commander Mike Adams is a master in operational law, that misunderstood niche practice of a small group of military officers who serve as legal advisors to commanders in the field.  Operational law practitioners inform, enable, and advocate for effective military operations through expert knowledge of applicable international and domestic law and policy, infused with the art, science, and ethos of the military profession. Few have done it better than Mike.  His physical and moral courage, brilliant intellectual capacity, and commitment to the profession of arms earned for himself, and his successors, a ‘seat at the table’ with senior commanders as a trusted military and legal advisor.  Mike’s vital contributions to the development of legal frameworks for U.S. counterterrorism and cyberspace operations will endure beyond his service to the Navy and to the Joint Force.  Bravo Zulu, my friend…may you and your family enjoy ‘fair winds and following seas.’”

Brigadier General, US Army (ret.) Rich Gross, Former Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“Mike Adams is a gifted lawyer, an outstanding military officer, and a great friend.  Over the course of my 30-year career in the military, it was rare to meet someone who was equally competent as both practitioner and scholar and comfortable serving at every level of our government – tactical, operational, strategic, and national – but Mike was one of those rare individuals.  I often said if someone had told me to run a legal office with just one person, I would have picked Mike.
Best wishes in your future endeavors, Mike. Fair Winds and Following Seas!”

Caroline Krass, General Counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency:

“Mike Adams is truly an exceptional attorney with a keen intellect and commitment to the rule of law.  We worked together for several years, and I was continuously impressed by his intellectual curiosity, thoughtfulness and expertise, as well as his collegiality.”

Jennifer O’Connor, Former General Counsel, Department of Defense:

“Mike is a brilliant lawyer, with keen strategic insights and a firm sense of where true north lies. I’d want him on any team of mine any time. His retirement is the Navy’s loss but I look forward to tracking many accomplishments to come.”

Robert S. Taylor, Former Acting General Counsel, Department of Defense:

“This Friday, I will have the honor of stepping foot back into the Pentagon for the first time since January 20 to celebrate with scores of others the contributions of Mike Adams as a judge advocate in the US Navy. Officers and lawyers like Mike are the foundation of our strength because it is people like them who ensure that we remain firmly anchored in law and that we remain true to our mission, broadly understood. Even among outstanding colleagues on the joint staff, Mike stood out as a towering intellect and clear thinker.  Going back inside the Pentagon to celebrate Mike is a powerful reminder that the United States has enduring interests and that being able to attract and retain the dedicated service of men and women like Mike Adams is critical to our security and our future. Congratulations, Mike, on a job well done, and congratulations as you take your enormous skills, intellect and drive into the private sector.”

Karl Thompson, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice:

“It was an honor and a pleasure to work with Mike.  He is a superb lawyer, always well-prepared and insightful.  He is also a respectful and uniformly good-natured colleague, who is as gracious when you disagree with him as when you agree.  The Joint Chiefs could not have asked for a better representative in the Lawyers Group.”

 


About the Author

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, Former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016) Follow him on Twitter (@rgoodlaw).