FORT SILL, Okla., Nov. 8, 2018 -- On Oct. 25 Cameron University ROTC Cadets gathered in the morning at Burch Hall on campus to learn about the military law of armed conflict (LOAC) and rules of engagement (ROE) from the seasoned 75th Field Artillery Brigade Judge Advocate, Maj. Ryan Little.

"The 75th Field Artillery Brigade has a great relationship with Cameron University and its ROTC program [specifically], so when the head of the program wanted to get his senior class of cadets exposed to the LAOC and ROE, the 75th was the first place they looked," Little said. "I was more than happy to go talk to them and potentially shape the future generation of leaders."

Little began his lesson by asking the cadets about themselves and the branches of the Army they hoped to work under.

One student said military police, while another said the infantry and combat arms.

While these branches differ immensely from the JAG Corps that Little serves under, he emphasized how almost every branch works directly and indirectly, with the Army legal world.

Little, a twice deployed officer -- once with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 75th FA Brigade just this past summer -- has performed his job in multiple capacities.

In his role at 75th FA Brigade he advises the commander on the full range of legal issues facing the brigade, including investigations, ethics, contracts, and funding issues.

Little also runs the brigade legal office and assists with good order and discipline issues regarding personnel. In a deployed environment, many of his tasks are still the same, but the focus is shifted to advising on law of armed conflict considerations, targeting, and the funding of military operations.

In his lecture, he rolled out LOAC and why it's important to today's leaders.

"The first thing future commanders need to realize is that the LOAC are not meant to hinder the commander's ability to carry out the mission," Little said. "The LOAC acknowledge that in war, people are going to die, and property is going to be destroyed. Instead of hampering commanders, it tries to provide baseline protections for civilians and non-combatants and to establish a standard that all sides of military conflict need to adhere to."

Ryaan Villagomez, a senior-year cadet said he had never heard about the LOAC before the lesson.

"I learned about how it can be useful for commanders in order to protect and educate them," said Villagomez.

The LOAC provides a variety of protections for both combatants and non-combatants in an armed conflict, including prohibiting combatants from intentionally targeting categories of people like civilians, noncombatants and prisoners of war.

Villagomez, who hopes to be a commander someday, said, "Commanders should adhere to the LAOC so that as a leader, they can deliver concise and appropriate orders to their peers and subordinates."

"Killing prisoners or civilians and other noncombatants probably wouldn't help the military mission anyway," Little said. "Instead, following the LAOC can help commanders because the LOAC are recognized throughout the international community as values and standards that must be followed."
If commanders were to choose not to follow the LOAC, it could hinder the United States' ability to form coalitions needed to defeat enemy forces and counterpoint adversaries, said Little.

He closed his brief with a lesson on the ROE.

"[The ROE] are a set of tools that commanders can use for command and control of the battlefield," Little said. The Judge Advocate noted that the ROE can be different depending on the theater in which the forces are operating in and the unit concerned.

After his lesson, he opened the floor for questions and discussion with the cadets.