Captain Rudy Dambeck, a judge advocate in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), made history by becoming the first-ever commissioned JAG to earn the Expert Soldier Badge.
To earn the Expert Soldier Badge, a soldier must perform 30 battle drills and warrior tasks—such as loading an MK19 grenade launcher and placing an M18 Claymore mine—and also a land navigation test, 12-mile ruck march, and the Army’s Physical Fitness Test. It falls to the unit’s commander to choose the battle drills and tasks.
The Expert Soldier Badge is pretty new, having been introduced in 2019. It is designed to test the combat skills, fitness, and overall readiness of soldiers whose Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) isn’t considered combat, special operations, or combat medic. The Expert Soldier Badge is the equivalent of the Expert Infantry Badge and the Expert Field Medical Badge.
“When you know what the weapon systems look like. When you know what medical treatment looks like. When you know at least your basic level patrol and soldier tasks. When a lawyer knows what that stuff looks like, they’re able to give a lot more informative advice to the commanders of the infantry companies out there that are looking for on the spot advice,” Captain Dambeck said in a press release.
JAGs are military lawyers and licensed attorneys who represent the Army and Army Soldiers when it comes to military legal matters. Their duties extend beyond the expected court-martials and include other legal disciplines, such as civil litigation, labor law, and international law
“You actually get to do army stuff, rather than just talk or think about it all the time. NTC [the National Training Center] is a great example of that and ESB training and testing is another great example of that,” added Dambeck.
Despite being a military lawyer, Dambeck acknowledged that an officer is first and foremost a leader, and he or she is expect to lead from the front and provide the example.
“As an officer, no matter what branch, you’re supposed to be a leader. You’re supposed to lead by example. So, it would be kind of a hard ask for me, a hard sell for me to stand up and ask junior-enlisted paralegals to push themselves during PT or push their land-nav skills or marksmanship skills or get out and try and earn their ESB if I’m standing here and I didn’t even try.”