Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

April 10, 2006 21:44 ET

Appointment of New Judge Advocate General for the Canadian Forces

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 10, 2006) - Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor is pleased to announce that Col. Ken Watkin will be promoted brigadier-general and assume the responsibilities of Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the Canadian Forces on April 14. Pursuant to Section 9 of the National Defence Act, the new JAG was appointed by an Order-in-Council for a term of four years.

"Col. Ken Watkin has broad experience in the administration of military justice and impeccable credentials in the critically important area of operational law," said Minister O'Connor. "The latter is particularly important as my senior legal advisor will be a key player as we rebuild the Canadian Forces, integrating a three-ocean navy, a robust army and a revitalized air force into an effective team at home and abroad. I have the utmost confidence in his abilities."

A graduate of Queen's University Law School with Bachelor and Master of Laws degrees, Col. Ken Watkin has served as a Canadian Forces legal officer for 24 years. He has been trial counsel at courts martial and appellate counsel before the Court Martial Appeal Court. Since 1993, he has specialized in the field of operational law. He was Government counsel for various national and international investigations arising from the Rwanda Genocide, and provided legal advice to Canadian commanders in Bosnia and the Canadian Navy during the turbot dispute with Spain. He has published widely on operational law, the law of armed conflict, discipline and human rights.

Col. Watkin replaces Maj.-Gen. Jerry Pitzul, who is retiring from the CF after eight years as the senior Canadian Forces legal advisor. He has been appointed honourary professor of law at the University of Western Ontario.

Minister O'Connor praised Maj.-Gen. Pitzul's reform of the military justice system through a tenure that began on the heels of the 1997 Report of the Special Advisory Group on Military Justice and Military Police Investigation Services. "I realize how far-sighted National Defence was in appointing him to this position," said the Defence Minister. "He has brought a wealth of experience to the job and has implemented the most significant revision of the military justice system since 1950."

During Maj.-Gen. Pitzul's tenure as JAG, he has overseen the provision of operational legal advice during a number of complex conflicts such as the Kosovo air campaign, and the post-September 11 campaign against terrorism, as well as numerous international and domestic operations.


The Judge Advocate General

Pursuant to Section 9 of the National Defence Act, the Judge Advocate General (JAG) is the principal legal advisor to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, the Canadian Forces (CF) and the Department of National Defence on matters of military law. The JAG also has overall responsibility for the administration of military justice, ensuring that reviews are conducted regularly and an annual report is submitted to the Defence Minister for tabling in the House of Commons.

The Governor in Council appoints the JAG for a term of up to four years. Responsible to the Defence Minister for the performance of duties and functions, the JAG holds a minimum rank of brigadier-general and has at least ten years standing at the bar.

The JAG has command over all legal officers whose duty is the provision of legal services, except where they are posted to a military judge position. There are 120 Regular Force and 67 Reserve Force legal officer positions established within the Office of the JAG.

CF legal officers are employed across Canada, as well as select locations in the U.S., Europe, and with CF contingents deployed overseas. They are organized under the three pillars of military law: military justice, operational law and administrative law.

Visit for more information about the Office of the JAG.

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