News: Base staff judge advocate tapped for SecNav staff
Story by Cpl. Paris Capers
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – Lt. Col. Christopher Shaw, the staff judge advocate for Marine Corps Base Quantico, is slated to become the secretary of the Navy’s special assistant for legal and legislative matters.
Shaw will be the first Marine to hold the position.
As the base’s staff judge advocate, Shaw currently gives legal advice to the commander and tenant commands across the base. Soon his duties will swell to a level able to impact international policies of the Marine Corps and Navy alike.
“The SecNav primarily has four lawyers,” explained Shaw. “He has the Navy judge advocate general, the staff judge advocate to the commandant of the Marine Corps, the general counsel of the Navy and the general counsel to the commandant of the Marine Corps. My job [as special assistant for legislative and legal matters] will to be to represent the SecNav’s office in legal interface with different organizations within the Marine Corps and the Navy.”
When the position opened, Shaw was nominated by the staff judge advocate to the CMC. The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos approved and forwarded the nomination to Ray Maybus, the secretary of the Navy, who sat on a board to choose who would take the position.
“I went up on a board against two others, both Navy personnel,” said Shaw. “[Maybus] asked professional questions, questions about my working relationships, my deployments and even personal questions about my life.”
Shaw, a graduate of the Boston Latin School - the oldest school in the United States - has served the Corps as an infantry officer, an international lawyer and a judge advocate, but his desire to be a Marine began at the Naval Academy, where he originally attended to become a Navy pilot.
“The academy was the first place I was exposed to Marines,” said Shaw. “It’s where I was exposed to the lore of the Corps and met the type of leaders I wanted to be: the leaders who took care of their subordinates. Leaders who ate only after every single one of their guys had eaten.”
Shaw’s experiences interning as an officer candidate helped him make up his mind: he was going to be a Marine. He went to The Basic School in 1994 and, upon graduation, was selected to lead Marines as an infantry officer.
During his time leading Marines, Shaw felt the rules of engagement to which his Marines were held were good, but could always be better. He decided he wanted to become a judge advocate help create ROE that would better serve Marines in theatre. He was selected to attend law school and became a staff judge advocate.
“[Shaw] is the supervisor who has challenged me the most in my career,” said Maj. Christopher Hoover, deputy staff judge advocate. “He asked ‘why do it this way?’ when he came in as staff judge advocate and has challenged the processes for the better.”
Shaw’s diverse career has led him to many opportunities and now, as special assistant to the SecNav, he plans to take the same approach he always has.
“Going into the secretary’s office, my goal is to learn and absorb information,” said Shaw. “I want to use my knowledge to advise the decision makers toward the best course of action.”