Area Defense Council: Justice for all

Story and photo by Senior Airman Aaron-Forrest Wainwright
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Ramstein Area Defense Counsel helps Airmen who face court-martial charges, non-judicial punishment and various administrative actions. The ADC works with paralegals in assisting with investigation and preparing for cases, trials and presentations to commanders.

The main role of the defense counselors is to help Airmen to understand their rights as an Air Force member and their constitutional rights to ensure that those rights are represented at courts-martial and in administrative actions against members.

“We see more of the big picture and help Airmen make the best chain of choices,” said Capt. Andrew Halldin, ADC attorney. “Anytime someone is suspected of doing something, it’s always a complex situation so we help them to figure out how to best help themselves.”

The ADC is completely independent; their chain of command goes directly to Washington, D.C. They have no obligation to assist the command here at Ramstein, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, or 3rd Air Force. This helps the ADC support the accused member exclusively.

Airmen also have confidentiality with the ADC, meaning anything that an accused member says to the defense team cannot and will not be revealed to anyone.
The ADC is different from the legal office because the base legal office assists your chain of command’s interests in good order and discipline. Unlike the ADC, the base legal office will not assist you if you are suspected of committing a crime.

At Ramstein, there are four ADC representatives who serve all Air Force members of the KMC and geographically separated units. Airmen who are suspected of committing a crime have the option of requesting a defense counsel by name. Attorneys here are primarily tasked to provide defense in court for Ramstein and its GSUs, and they also travel all across Europe to provide representation in courts-martial.

“This is our exclusive job, to make sure people understand their rights and that we are looking out for their well-being, and to protect their legal rights,” said Capt. Karl Vogel, ADC attorney. “We defend the men and women (who) defend America.”