By Lisa SimunaciMarch 6, 2018
In his first travel opportunity outside the Pentagon, the Army's chief legal officer made Army Materiel Command his first stop since he assumed office early this year.
Army General Counsel James E. McPherson was appointed to his post by President Donald Trump, confirmed by the Senate, and assumed office Jan. 2. He visited Redstone Arsenal Feb. 26-27.
McPherson said he made AMC his first visit based on high recommendations from his staff and the Army's Judge Advocate General, Lt. Gen. Charles Pede.
"They all said 'go to AMC first,'" noted McPherson. "It really is the center of activity now and going forward."
McPherson said he was interested in getting out and meeting the Army and its lawyers.
"It has been a long time," McPherson said, with a nod to his early military career.
The retired Navy admiral served his final assignment as the Navy Judge Advocate General, but his 28-year military career began with an Army enlistment, where he served as a military policeman in his home state of California as well as in South Korea and Kansas. Before taking on the role as Army General Counsel, McPherson served as the executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General.
McPherson began his two-day visit with an audience of lawyers and legal staff from across the arsenal. The town hall was a chance for the legal leader to offer his perspective and field questions.
"My priorities are my client's priorities," McPherson said. Those clients are personified by Army leadership, he said, while reiterating the Army Secretary's top concerns of readiness, modernization and reform.
Much of that reform will likely come as a new Futures Command stands up with a goal of accelerating the acquisition process. While the new command is likely to impact contracting and its legalities, McPherson noted the specifics are still undetermined.
"The energy and commitment is there to reform and it is exciting to watch it happen," he said.
McPherson commended the Army lawyers, both military and civilian, for their choice to serve.
"You have embraced a lifestyle of service. You could be hustling in a law firm, making more money, with a nicer car and a bigger house," he said. "But what motivates you is the lifestyle of service that you chose, focused on one thing - the Soldier."
McPherson said his goal was to come away from the visit with a better understanding of AMC's legal practice.
"I was most excited to talk to people, learn what they do, discuss their frustrations and find out their passions and challenges," he said. "I will go back with a better understanding and determine what I can do to make their job easier, more productive and more rewarding."
AMC's Command Counsel Brian Toland said Redstone Arsenal lawyers and staff gained tremendous insight during the visit. McPherson's visit also included an office call with AMC Commander Gen. Gus Perna, and tours, briefings, and updates at Army entities throughout the installation.
"Mr. McPherson was able to gain perspective on the important and varied legal services we provide to our clients both here and at Army installations worldwide," Toland said. "He stressed the importance of supporting the Secretary of the Army's priorities and reiterated how everything we do must be aimed to support the Soldier. It was a powerful message that I know our legal workforce takes to heart."