Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. USAF (Ret.)
Professor of the Practice of Law
Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics and National Security

Charles J. Dunlap Jr. joined the Duke Law faculty in July 2010 where he is a professor of the practice of law and Executive Director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security. His teaching and scholarly writing focus on national security, law of armed conflict, the use of force under international law, civil-military relations, cyberwar, airpower, military justice, and ethical issues related to the practice of national security law.

Dunlap retired from the Air Force in June 2010, having attained the rank of major general during a 34-year career in the Judge Advocate General Corps. In his capacity as Deputy Judge Advocate General from May 2006 to March 2010, he assisted the Judge Advocate General in the professional supervision of more than 2,200 judge advocates, 350 civilian lawyers, 1,400 enlisted paralegals, and 500 civilians around the world. In addition to overseeing an array of military justice, operational, international, and civil law functions, he provided legal advice to commanders and civilian leaders at all levels.

In the course of his career, Dunlap has been involved in various high-profile interagency and policy matters, including his testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives concerning the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Dunlap previously served as the senior lawyer (staff judge advocate) at Headquarters Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, at Headquarters Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, and at U.S. Strategic Command, Omaha, Nebraska, among other leadership posts. Additionally, he served on the faculty of the Air Force Judge Advocate General School where he taught various civil and criminal law topics. An experienced trial lawyer, he also spent two years as a military trial judge for a 22-state circuit. He served tours in the United Kingdom and Korea, and deployed for operations in the Middle East and Africa, including short stints in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also led military-to-military delegations to Colombia, Uruguay, South Africa, and the Czech Republic.

A prolific author and accomplished public speaker, Dunlap’s commentary on a wide variety of national security topics has been published in leading newspapers and military journals. His 2001 essay written for Harvard University’s Carr Center on “lawfare,” a concept he defines as “the use or misuse of law as a substitute for traditional military means to accomplish an operational objective,” has been highly influential among military scholars and in the broader legal academy. His article, “Lawfare 101: A Primer,” appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of Military Review.

Dunlap’s legal scholarship also has been published in the Stanford Law Review, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, the Harvard Law’s National Security Journal, the Wake Forest Law Review, the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, the University of Nebraska Law Review, the Texas Tech Law Review, and the Tennessee Law Review, among others.

He is the author of “The Origins of the Military Coup of 2012”, originally published in 1992, which was selected for the 40th Anniversary Edition of Parameters (Winter 2010-2011). He also authored “Airpower” in Understanding Counterinsurgency (Thomas Rid and Thomas Keaney, eds., Routledge, 2010), and his essay on “The Military Industrial Complex” appeared in the summer 2011 issue of Daedalus.  His article on international humanitarian law was published in 2012 in the German Red Cross in their Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, and No Good Options against ISIS Barbarism? Human Shields in 21st Century Conflicts, in the American Journal of International Law (Unbound) in 2016.

His chapter on military law appeared in The Modern American Military (David Kennedy, ed., Oxford University Press, 2013).  His op-ed “Bringing Bergdahl Home Was the Right Choice—Deserter or Not,” was published by Time Magazine (online) in March 2015, and “Can Defense Counsel Ever Be Lawfully Surveilled by the Government?” on Just Security in 2017.“Clarifying the Law of Military Orders” appeared on CAAFlog in 2018.

Additionally, he’s authored numerous commentaries in a range of publications. In 2018 these included: “The Case for a Big, Beautiful Military Parade, in The Atlantic; “Want to save teens? Driving restrictions could save at least as many lives as gun control,” in The Hill; “Why the Mueller Indictment Doesn't Allege the Russians Swung the Election,” on Lawfare; “Let’s Temper the Rhetoric About Civil-Military Relations, in Small Wars Journal; and “No, Ceasefires and Armistices Are Not “outmoded”,” on Just Security.

Dunlap’s articles on cyberwar include “Perspectives for Cyber Strategists on Law for Cyberwar” in Strategic Studies Quarterly (spring 2011) and “The Hyper-Personalization of War: Cyber, Big Data, and the Changing Face of Conflict,” in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (fall 2014).

His article, “Ethical Issues of the Practice of National Security Law,” was published by the Ohio Northern University Law Review in 2012, and re-published by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law & National Security. His chapter, “Clever or Clueless? Observations About Bombing Norm Debates,” appeared in The American Way of Bombing: Changing Ethical and Legal Norms, from Flying Fortresses to Drones (Matthew A. Evangelista and Henry Shue, eds., 2014).

Dunlap’s 2016 publications included “The DoD Law of War Manual and its Critics: Some Observations,” (International Law Studies) and his essay, “Accountability and Autonomous Weapons: Much Ado About Nothing?” appeared in Temple Law’s Journal of International & Comparative Law. In 2017 the University of North Carolina’s Journal of International Law published his essay “’Cybervandalism’ or ‘Digital Act of War’? America’s Muddled Approach to Cyber Incidents Will Not Deter More Crises.” Also in 2017, the Connecticut Law Review featured his, “Social Justice and Silicon Valley: A Perspective on the Apple-FBI Case and the “Going Dark” Debate.”” In 2018 Dunlap published “Targeting of Persons: The Contemporary Challenges,” in the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law.

Dunlap’s 2019 writings include “Trump's next top military adviser wants Americans to forget 4 'myths' about war, but he needs to explain a few things first,” in the Business Insider; “Reviewing the Facts on Trump's Proposed Pardons in Military Justice Cases,” on Lawfare, “Booksplat: A Misfire on the Use of Force by Western Democracies” in the Journal of Genocide Research, “Body Counts Are Terrible Way for the Public to Assess US Counter-Terrorism Operations” on Just Security, and “Housing privatization brings corporate attitude onto bases,” appeared in the Air Force Times.

Additionally, his “Practitioners and the DoD Law of War Manual” chapter in The United States Law of War Manual: Commentary and Critique was published by Cambridge University Press in January 2019. His chapter on “Civil-Military Relations” will be published in the National Security Law and Policy: A Reader (forthcoming 2019).

Maj Gen Dunlap’s blog is Lawfire, and since its founding in 2015 he’s written over 200 posts on a wide variety of subjects.

Dunlap's wife, Joy, was formerly a vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters, and later a deputy director of Government Relations for the Military Officers Association of America. In 2016 she completed her term as the president of the Duke Campus Club, and in 2017 she was awarded the Order of the Emerald by Kappa Delta sorority. Her blog, Speaking Joyfully, won 2nd place in the blog category at the 2019 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.  They reside in Durham.


portrait: Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF (Ret.)