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 currently 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 spanning 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 Air Combat Command Headquarters at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, at Air Education and Training Command Headquarters 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.  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.

Dunlap is also the author of the prize-winning essay, “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).

Dunlap’s legal scholarship 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, Temple Law’s Journal of International & Comparative Law, the University of North Carolina’s Journal of International Law, the Connecticut Law Review, the Tennessee Law Review, and the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, among others.

He’s also authored numerous articles and opinion pieces in a range of publications including The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Air Force Times, Strategic Studies Quarterly, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Business Insider, the Journal of Genocide Research, The Hill, Small Wars Journal, and the blogs, Lawfare and Just Security.

Maj Gen Dunlap founded his blog Lawfire in 2015 and has since written over 300 posts on a wide variety of subjects.

Dunlap's wife, Joy, was a vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters, and later a deputy director of Government Relations for the Military Officers Association of America. She served as the elected president of Duke Campus Club, and is a recipient of the prestigious Order of the Emerald by Kappa Delta sorority. Her blog, Speaking Joyfully, won 3rd place in the blog category at the 2021 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.  They reside in Durham.



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

Recent Courses

Governing Faculty
Center for International and Comparative Law