By MICHAEL P. KLEIMAN, U.S. TRANSPORTATION COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE – Since October 1994, U.S. Army Colonel Rick Lear, staff judge advocate, U.S. Transportation Command, has practiced the legal profession in uniform, but in a few weeks, he will transition from the familiarity of his soldier experience to the unfamiliarity of civilian life.
Lear, who joined the Army 30 years ago as an armor officer prior to earning his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law, retires from active-duty service in October, but will depart USTRANSCOM next month.
For the past two years, he has led the command’s 25-member Staff Judge Advocate office, TCJA, while also providing legal counsel to organizational senior leadership on military justice and transportation-, international-, fiscal-, and civil-related law. Some of Lear’s milestones achieved during this tour of duty included spearheading the entire TCJA staff’s synchronized participation in Turbo Challenge 2019. Occurring in March last year, the annual USTRANSCOM-sponsored exercise involved participants’ training in coordination, command and control, and integration of capabilities and functions of USTRANSCOM and its components.
In addition, TCJA had a significant role in the initiation and execution of the command’s historic, first-ever Global Household Goods Contract awarded on April 30, 2020. The GHC represents a part of the Department of Defense’s wider strategy to enhance the relocation process for DOD families. USTRANSCOM’s legal office has also been actively engaged in the command’s response to the subsequent award challenge and reevaluation.
And with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, more than 20 TCJA members have consistently teleworked since, but Lear and his staff have not missed a beat in performing their duties, due, in large part, to the sense of urgency they demonstrated – and experienced – during the TC19 exercise the year before.
“It’s been a privilege and humbling experience to serve in USTRANSCOM. This unique assignment has been the first time as a staff judge advocate I’ve served at the combatant command –level,” said Lear. “The organization has a strong, capable, and confident military, civilian, and contract workforce, which sets the standard for professionalism and performance, not only within the DOD, but perhaps throughout the whole of government. The USTRANSCOM assignment was the thirteenth – and best – of my 30-year military career.”
Before coming to USTRANSCOM, Lear held the position of staff judge advocate with the Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky, for over three years. He cited this particular tour as a tremendous opportunity for an attorney. Some other highlights from his three-decade in-length military career included completing 85 static line jumps during his assignment as chief of operational law with the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in the mid to late 1990s. And while working as the command judge advocate, U.S. Special Operations Command, Europe in the early 2000s, Lear was legal lead for the COCOM’s endeavors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, as well as on the African continent.
While assigned as the Army Recruiting Command SJA, he worked for and with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the USAREC’s 25th commander, in building – and sustaining – the world’s best Army today and tomorrow by attracting top volunteer recruits to become soldiers.
“I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had Rick Lear as my SJA, while leading USAREC. Rick is in a league of his own and a consummate professional. Anyone who has served with Rick knows he is a superb SJA, but he is much more than that — he is also a great leader, teammate, and team builder,” Snow stated. “I consider him to be among the finest leaders I had the privilege to serve alongside in my career and wish him and his lovely spouse Jennifer the very best as they transition from the Army. I have no doubt Rick will continue to excel in any endeavor he pursues.”
After departing USTRANSCOM next month, Lear heads to Huntsville, Alabama, to reunite with his family, and transition to his next chapter professionally and personally.
“During the USTRANSCOM assignment and throughout my 30-year Army career, there were no accomplishments I did on my own. It’s been all about the team – think and value the team,” Lear said. “”I’ve been fortunate to conclude my soldier experience at USTRANSCOM, which I believe is the most-professional, most-respected organization I’ve served in and was proud to be a part of.”
USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the Joint Force, we advance American interests around the globe, and we provide our nation’s leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options, while creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.
PHOTO: U.S. Army Colonel Rick Lear, staff judge advocate, U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, (pictured left) meets with his successor, U.S. Army Colonel Andras Marton. Lear retires from active-duty service in October, after achieving a 30-year Army career. In July, he departs USTRANSCOM for Huntsville, Alabama to reunite with his family, and transition to the next chapter in his life. For the past two years as the USTRANSCOM SJA, Lear has led a 25-member staff and provided legal counsel to command senior leadership. (Photo by Michelle Gigante, USTRANSCOM/PA)