Afghan National Army Legal Staff

Trained by Utah Guard Soldier


Written by Cmdr. Chad Snee

205th Regional Corps Advisory Command

Published November 8, 2006


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Maj. Paul Waldron, left, teaches basic law concepts to the legal staff of the 205th Corps, Afghan National Army, at Camp Shir Zai.

Photo courtesy of 205th Regional Corps Advisory Command

Maj. Paul Waldron, left, teaches basic law concepts to the legal

staff of the 205th Corps, Afghan National Army, at Camp Shir Zai.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan Ten members of the legal staff of the 205th Corps, Afghan National Army, were grounded in basic law concepts recently at Camp Shir Zai, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

Maj. Paul Waldron, a Utah Army National Guard Soldier mobilized from his home in Pleasant Grove, Utah, and now the command judge advocate for the 205th Regional Corps Advisory Command (P), led a focused discussion that covered topics such as the rule of law; separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches; independence of the judiciary; fundamental fairness; due process; impartiality and double jeopardy.

To facilitate the transfer of knowledge, Waldron, with the able assistance of interpreter Abdul Azim Satarzada, prepared slides of the presentation in Dari, the native language of Afghan Army lawyers in attendance.

During the presentation, Waldron referred to similar slides displayed on another computer in English.

The meeting began on an appropriate note, with the playing of the national anthem of Afghanistan.

Satarzada suggested to Waldron that he include the patriotic song, because it would inspire the Afghan Soldiers, and they would be impressed with the fact that this training was specifically for them and for the better good of Afghanistan.

Col. Shir Ahmad Zarak, staff judge advocate for the Afghan 205th Corp, then provided a brief introduction, stating that he and his team were pleased about the training they were to receive.

Waldron emphasized that he wanted a dialogue between himself and his students.

“I want this to be a discussion among ourselves,” he stated. “I want us to talk about issues when they come up.”

Waldron began his lesson with one of the most important legal concepts: the rule of law.

The Afghan lawyers and judges were asked what they believed “rule of law” meant.

One judge responded immediately and with conviction in his voice: “Rule of law means that all citizens of Afghanistan are subject to the same law.”

Waldron affirmed the judge’s answer and replied, “We need to have faith, confidence and belief in the rule of law.”

Regarding the concept of separation of powers, Waldron advised his students that it is “important to understand that the legislative, executive and judicial branches have separate powers that prevent one branch from encroaching on another.”

At times, the discussion became quite animated, as Afghan lawyers wrestled with these important concepts.

It is very clear from their comments and questions that they are committed to expanding their understanding of the law and to putting that knowledge to use in the service of the Afghan people.

Several participants commented that the training was very valuable and useful. So useful, they said, that they didn’t realize that more than two hours had passed when the instruction ended.

This initial block of instruction began with the basics, a foundation upon which more difficult legal concepts may be built, Waldron said.

“We have to show the [Afghan Army] leadership that the law works and how to use it effectively,” Waldron asserted. “We need to be confident experts in our jobs.”

“It is my firm belief that the 205th RCAC is leading the way in ANA training on legal issues,” he added.

The group continued with four more days of training covering the areas of the Afghan Constitution, the Afghan Law of Military Courts Code, Afghan Military Criminal Procedure Code, Afghan Military Punitive Articles, the Afghan Nonjudicial Punishment Code and practice pointers from Waldron.

Reprinted from the Phoenix Patriot, the official publication of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix V.