ARCHIVED - Chapter 5: Review of Military Justice Education and Training

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

5.1 Introduction

One of the roles of the Office of the JAG is to provide assistance in the provision of military justice education and training to the CF community. This mandate is intended to target three groups. The first group is comprised of the CF community as a whole with the objective that all CF members have access to information about their rights and obligations under the Code of Service Discipline (CSD). The second group is comprised of CF members who fulfill specific roles in the administration of military justice, such as commanding officers (COs) and summary trial presiding officers. The third group is comprised of legal officers who require specific training in military law based on their rank and career progression within the legal branch.

5.2 General CF Training and Education

Canadian Forces Military Law Centre (CFMLC)

The CFMLC stood up on 30 November 2007 and is responsible for military justice education and training for the CF. The CFMLC forms part of the Canadian Defence Academy (CDA) located in Kingston, Ontario, and is staffed by legal officers who come under the command of the CDA. As an organization, the CFMLC develops and delivers operationally-focused military legal education, training and doctrine.

Military Justice Training

It is vital that all members of the CF acquire a significant level of knowledge about the military justice system. All CF members receive training in the basic tenets of the military justice system, including familiarization with the CSD, during their basic training at the CF Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. Similar training is also provided to officer cadets at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario, as well as to those undergoing their preparatory year at Richelieu Squadron in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu prior to attending RMC. During the current reporting year, a total of 6781 regular force and 5009 reserve force officers and non-commissioned members (NCMs) received military justice training in this manner. The re-establishment in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu of the Collège Militaire Royal during the reporting period created a requirement to consider the delivery of military justice training within that institution. The CDA is currently examining this issue.

The Office of the JAG, primarily through the legal officers and Chief Petty Officers 1st Class/Chief Warrant Officers (CPO1s/CWOs) in the regional legal offices, provides direct support to the chain of command with regard to general training on military justice. During the reporting year, in addition to providing general military justice training support, legal officers and the Assistant Judge Advocate/Deputy Judge Advocate CPO1s/CWOs provided military justice instruction on numerous courses including the Air Force NCM Intermediate Air Environmental Qualification Course, the Ship's Coxswains Course, the Cadet Instructor Cadre Officer Training Course, and the CF Primary Leadership Qualification Course.

During the reporting period, legal officers continued to provide considerable support to the Officer Professional Military Education Program (OPME) military law course. The OPME program includes courses on defence management, Canadian military history, leadership and ethics and military law. The successful completion of the program is required for officers to be promoted to the rank of Major or Lieutenant-Commander. The course DCE 002 Introduction to Military Law contains a module addressing in detail the administration of military justice in the CF. The second module in the course details the laws applicable to armed conflict. The training is offered through self-paced distance learning and condensed on-site instruction at CF bases and wings, and is available to both officers and NCMs. During the reporting period, 1691 students successfully completed the English-language serial, while 312 students completed the French-language serial of this course.

5.3 Training for the Administration of the Military Justice System

Presiding Officer Certification Training (POCT)

The JAG is responsible for the provision of training and certification of superior commanders, COs and delegated officers in the administration of the CSD at the summary trial level.1 POCT was specifically designed to meet this requirement, and as such, it provides candidates with the tools necessary to discharge their duties in the administration of the CSD. While POCT is primarily designed for the qualification of prospective presiding officers to preside at summary trials, the training is also beneficial to senior NCMs who perform vital roles in the disciplinary process such as investigators and charge-laying authorities. POCT is also taken by junior officers who may be expected to act as assisting officers in the summary trial system. During the reporting period, 89 POCT in-service serials were conducted at which a total of 837 CF members successfully completing the program (647 regular force members and 190 reserve force members). Of this total, 638 were officers and 199 were NCMs.

In the last annual report, the POCT Transformation project was outlined. This comprehensive review of the substance and delivery of the current POCT program includes the review and development of enhanced training in two key areas of military justice: unit investigations and the laying of charges. Over the course of the current reporting period, work continued on the development of a more comprehensive combined distance learning/in-service instructional format that will address administrative training challenges through the use of interactive computer-based learning. The goal is to reduce duplication between distance learning and in-service course content, and thus permit course candidates to receive greater in-service training with emphasis on the practical aspects of presiding at summary trials. There will be increased focus on the critical analysis required of the presiding officer through the use of demonstrational videos. Work on this critical project will continue into the next reporting period.

Presiding Officer Re-Certification Test (PORT)

POCT is valid for four years from the date of successful completion of the training. Re-certification may be achieved by either attending another POCT course or completing the PORT prior to the expiry of the original certification. Most personnel obtain their recertification through completion of the on-line PORT examination.

The PORT is a randomly generated, 90-minute online test that was launched in October 2003. Should a candidate receive a failing grade after attempting the online PORT, the candidate is given the opportunity to rewrite the test after a suitable time delay. In the event of a second failure, the candidate is then required to attend another two-day POCT course in order to be re-certified. During the reporting year, 364 members were re-certified by means of the PORT.

Assisting Officer Training

As reported in the 2007-2008 Annual Report, the CFMLC advised the Office of the JAG of their intent to create an assisting officer training course that would address the spectrum of an assisting officer's roles and duties. That initiative continues to progress during the reporting period. In particular, the CFMLC undertook a detailed and focused analysis of existing regulations and doctrine, military justice training courses and manuals, aides-memoire and briefing packages, as well as input from the CF chain of command with respect to assisting officer training concerns through consultative canvassing.

As a result of this information gathering and analysis process, an assisting officer training plan was developed. It now forms the basis for a computer-based training package to be delivered via DNDLearn, the CF on-line learning environment enabling members to engage in distance education wherever they may be located.2 During the reporting period, the CFMLC completed the design and development of a trial version of this course which will be run and evaluated during the 2009-2010 reporting period. Once lessons learned from the testing of the beta version of the course have been integrated into the training package, it will be submitted to the Office of the JAG for review and approval prior to being launched for CF-wide use.

5.4 Additional Training Initiatives

As mentioned in the last annual report, several areas have been identified which require additional training for CF members. In the context of developing educational and training programs to address these needs, the CFMLC has been engaged in other training development projects to enhance the military justice system within the CF. In addition to the training for assisting officers discussed above, the following projects will be commenced or will continue during the 2009-2010 reporting period.


Bias at the summary trial level was identified as an issue requiring greater emphasis in POCT training. Amendments to the instructor lesson plan and the development of a summary trial video training aid are underway to specifically address this issue. Greater emphasis is being placed on the requirement of presiding officers to understand the concept of reasonable apprehension of bias, and the need to continually consider this responsibility throughout all aspects of the disciplinary process, up to the final disposition of a matter.

Training of Unit Investigators and Charge Laying Authorities

As was reported in the 2007-2008 Annual Report, the CFMLC identified the need for further training in the conduct of unit disciplinary investigations and charge laying that is aimed at senior NCM's and junior officers. The design and delivery of this training continues to be developed in this reporting period and will be addressed further in the next reporting period.

CSD Familiarization Project

Increasing the awareness of CF members of their rights and obligations concerning military justice was an issue identified in the last annual report. The CFMLC reviewed several options to address this issue during the reporting period. For example, an effort to identify every course module within CF training programs which addresses the issue of military justice continues, in order to determine how existing training may be used to increase awareness of disciplinary rights and obligations. It is expected that an examination of the feasibility of a CF-wide poster campaign to inform CF members of their rights and obligations will be initiated in future reporting periods.

Review Authority Enhancement Training

During this reporting period, the CFMLC conducted an evaluation of the merits of establishing an on-line training course pertaining to the role, function and procedural considerations for senior officers expected to act as review authorities. Instead of a separate on-line course, it was decided to expand the training provided during the POCT with respect to review authorities. The preparation of this training remained on-going at the end of this reporting period.

Referral Application Aide-Memoire

The development and promulgation of a referral application aide-memoire was outlined in last year's report. This general reference document will assist referral authorities with the efficient and proper execution and processing of the documentation required to refer a matter to court martial. It will detail the best practices for regulatory compliance and for maximizing the effectiveness of the referral package to the Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP). The development of the aide-memoire will continue during the next reporting period.

Disciplinary Investigation Independence

The 2007-2008 Annual Report discussed the importance of emphasizing the need to respect the independence of the disciplinary investigation process. Both unit and military police investigations into allegations of a breach of the CSD need to be conducted in the absence of interference from the chain of command. Consequently, the Military Police Policy and Technical Procedures Manual has been amended with the assistance of the CFMLC. Further, specific teaching points have been developed in the POCT to highlight the issues of chain of command interference in disciplinary investigations.

5.5 Military Justice Legal Officer Training

Entry Level Training

While those joining the CF as legal officers are qualified legal practitioners in a province or territory, they have rarely been exposed to military law in law school or during the bar admissions process. In order to adequately prepare them for their military legal duties, it is necessary for all new legal officers, regardless of their previous legal or military careers, to undergo a rigorous training and educational program which includes self-study courses, in-class education, on-the-job training and operational experience. Legal Officer Basic Training (LOBT) and Legal Officer Intermediate Training (LOIT) are designed to expose new legal officers to the three pillars of military law (military justice, military administrative law and operational law). With specific regard to military justice, all legal officers in the early stage of their careers must successfully complete the POCT, a self-study program and examination on military justice, and act as junior counsel in the prosecution or defence of an accused at a court martial.3

LOIT is conducted in the areas of military justice, administrative law, operational law, and the law of armed conflict. These intermediate courses are required for promotion to Major or Lieutenant-Commander. During this reporting period, a total of eight legal officers completed the LOIT. Additional to this training, legal officers of the Office of the JAG also participated in instruction on Special Operations Forces Law, Targeting and the conduct of Boards of Inquiry.

Continuing Legal Education

In addition to the entry-level training, the Office of the JAG actively promotes continuing legal education and, through the Deputy JAG/Chief of Staff (DJAG/COS), provides the necessary funding for legal officers to attend courses, conferences, seminars and symposia related to the three pillars of military law. During the reporting period, legal officers participated in supplemental training and education programs relevant to military justice, including courses on criminal law and advocacy training. Additionally, a number of legal officers attended criminal and constitutional law seminars and conferences sponsored by organizations outside of the CF. Twelve legal officers attended the National Criminal Law Program in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in July 2008, with its focus on criminal procedure, advocacy and Charter issues. Legal officers also attended a variety of other educational and training programs concerning issues such as trial advocacy, expert witnesses, evidence and criminal law reform provided by organizations outside of the CF.

The Office of the JAG conducts a two-and-a-half day continuing legal education workshop each year, usually in conjunction with the annual JAG conference. While the themes of the workshops change from year to year, military justice issues are normally allocated time on the workshop timetable. The Canadian Military Prosecution Service and Defence Counsel Services also hold annual training workshops concerning issues affecting their respective organizations.


1 Queen's Regulations and Orders [QR&O], articles 101.09 and 108.10 (2)(a)(i). Before superior commanders and COs assume their duties, they must be trained in accordance with a curriculum established by the JAG and certified as qualified to perform their duties.

2 DND Learn.

3 In order to complete the practical requirement to act as junior counsel at a court martial, the matter must be a contested one. A court martial which consists of a guilty plea without trial will not suffice.

Date modified: