10 Good Minutes With Brig Gen Neurock
1. What is your name and duty assignment?
I’m Brigadier General Mitch Neurock. My formal title is “Mobilization Assistant to The Judge Advocate General.” I’m assigned at the Pentagon, and I lead the Air Force’s Reserve JAGs and paralegals.
2. What do you do in your current assignment?
As a reservist, I help The Judge Advocate General – a three-star general, the Air Force’s highest ranking attorney – in giving legal advice to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Chief of Space Operations, and the rest of the Department of the Air Force. We provide professional oversight of more than 2200 JAGs, 350 civilian attorneys, 1400 enlisted paralegals, and 500 civilian support staffers worldwide.
My own responsibilities involve leading the JAGs and paralegals in the Air Force Reserve – 660 attorneys and 219 paralegals assigned all over the world. Our reservists come from widely different personal and professional backgrounds, but we’re all connected by a commitment to serve. Right now I’m taking a short break from my civilian job to serve on active duty as the Director of the JAG Corps’ Operations and International Law Domain in Washington, DC. My team is responsible for the legal work to help Air Force and Space Force commanders accomplish their missions. So we give advice on cyberspace and information law, space law, and international law. We also handle environmental law matters, and we represent the Air Force in environmental litigation and in claims or lawsuits after aviation mishaps. It’s a fantastic group of people, and a really interesting area of the law.
3. What do you do in your civilian life?
I’m a federal prosecutor. I work for the United States Attorney’s Office in Houston. My civilian office has been super-supportive of my military service, and I use my experiences in the JAG Corps to help my team at the Department of Justice.
4. What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had in the military?
There are so many ways for JAGs and paralegals to help the mission! Deploying was a truly meaningful experience, life-shaping. I went to Baghdad and worked as a prosecutor at the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. I really felt like I was making a difference, both for the United States and for the Iraqi people. Other service has been rewarding, too. At two of the places where I’ve been assigned, I’ve helped flood victims during recovery – good people had suffered terrible personal losses, and it was important to me that we do everything we could to help them through that trying time.
5. Why did you join the military?
The most natural draw for me was a family connection. My dad served in the Air Force as a dentist, and I grew up on bases all around the country. But family wasn’t all: the sense of community in everything we do is what really resonated with me. It’s what’s kept me connected and motivated and energized through all these years.
6. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self as you were joining the military?
Get out of the office and meet more people around the base! We attorneys can be such an insular bunch (both in the military and in the rest of our profession). We tend to let people come to us, and then we wonder why we feel out of touch. Myself included. It’s so important to build and maintain connection throughout the legal community, and also in the greater military community we serve. It takes work to do that. But it’s worth it. The best lawyers and paralegals are the ones who know the client’s business.
7. Tell us something you learned from a mentor or supervisor in the military.
I learned to do appellate work as an active duty JAG, and I still use that skill today in my civilian job. My supervisor and mentor taught me that it pays to focus on communicating clearly and concisely, both in writing and out loud, no matter what job we hold. Commanders, courts, and clients look to us for “The Answer,” and it’s our responsibility to know it (or find it) and then communicate it plainly. If we can’t do that, we might as well not be there at all.
8. What does it mean to you to be a military JAG Officer?
It means everything! It’s a wonderful privilege to serve and to lead such committed professional people. Our reserve JAGs and paralegals live all over the world, and they come from all backgrounds and from a million different walks of civilian life. We give the JAG Corps a stable, expert, and close-knit force – the best in the world.
9. Do you have any words of advice for someone considering joining the military/JAG Corps/Reserves?
Do it. Don’t wait. There’s never a “perfect” time to raise your hand to serve – there’ll always be a complication or a stressor or something. Start, commit, and follow through. And make sure you do it for the right reasons. Not for glory or accolades or benefits, but for the privilege of using your skills and talents for a greater calling: service to our nation.
10. What food have you never eaten, but really want to try?
Believe it or not: sea urchin! I don’t have much spare time, but I like watching cooking shows, and it’s always fascinated me how the chefs can get inside those things and then produce dishes that the judges seem to love. (There’s only one way for me to really find out, though, right?)