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Colonel Sharon A. Shaffer is the Staff Judge Advocate for Headquarters Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.  As staff judge advocate, she is the principal legal adviser to the Commander Air Combat Command (ACC) and headquarters staff on all legal issues involving military justice, combat operations, civil litigation, environmental law, claims, international law, and administrative law.  She provides professional guidance to over 300 active duty, reserve and civilian attorneys and to over 300 enlisted paralegals and civilians.  Colonel Shaffer’s office establishes policy oversight for 17 legal offices, including six general court-martial jurisdictions, which provide legal services to over 134,000 active duty members and civilians and their eligible dependents.

Colonel Shaffer was commissioned as an Air Force officer through the direct appointment program and entered active duty on 5 February 1990. She has served as a Circuit Trial Counsel, Circuit Defense Counsel, Military Judge, and Staff Judge Advocate for Headquarters, Air Force Reserve Command.  In 2003, Colonel Shaffer was selected as the first Deputy Chief Defense Counsel for the Office of Military Commissions and assigned to represent one of the first four detainees charged in the Global War on Terrorism.  Following the military commissions, she served as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe.  Colonel Shaffer has tried over 150 courts-martial as either trial or defense counsel and presided as a military judge in 160 general and special courts-martial.  

Colonel Shaffer is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan, the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the United States Supreme Court.  

1985 Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and German, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 
1989 Juris Doctor degree, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Lansing, Michigan  
1992 Squadron Officer School (in residence) Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama  
1998 Air Command and Staff College (in residence), Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama  
2003 Air War College (correspondence)  

2013 Joint Air and Space Operations Senior Staff Course (Hurlburt Field, FL) 


1. March 1990 - February 1992, Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, Air Force Military Training Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
2. February 1992 - March 1994, Circuit Trial Counsel, Second Judicial Circuit, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
3. March 1994 - July 1995, Circuit Defense Counsel, First Judicial Circuit, Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.
4. July 1995 - July 1997, Chief, Accessions and Recruiting Branch, Office of The Judge Advocate General, Pentagon
5. July 1997 - June 1998, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama
6. June 1998 - October 2000, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
7. October 2000 - July 2003, Military Judge, USAF Eastern Circuit Trial Judiciary, Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.
8. July 2003 - January 2005, Deputy Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon  
9. January 2005 - July 2006, HQ AF/JAA, Legal Advisor for SAF/IGS, Pentagon 
10. July 2006 - June 2007, Chief, Military Justice Division, HQ USAFE, Ramstein AB, Germany, & Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, HQ Third Air Force
11. June 2007 - July 2008, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
12. July 2008 - June 2010, Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters, Air Force Reserve Command, Robins AFB, Georgia  
13. June 2010 – June 2012, Director of Staff/Chief, TJAG Action Group, Office of The Judge Advocate General, Pentagon
14. June 2012 – August 2016, Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam, Hawaii 
15. August 2016 – Present, Staff Judge Advocate, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia


Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters 
Defense Meritorious Service Medal  
Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters  
Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster  
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster  
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award with four oak leaf clusters & one silver leaf cluster  
National Defense Service Medal with bronze star device  
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal  
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal  
Air Force Overseas Ribbon (Long)  
Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with one silver leaf cluster  
Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon  
Air Force Training Ribbon


April 2013:  Defence Legal Joint Legal Issues Workshop, Puckapunyal, Australia:  Presenter: “Current Issues in Sexual Assault & Special Victims Counsel Program”
October 2006: The George Washington Law Review Symposium on “The New Face of Armed Conflict”: Presenter: “Practitioner’s Views from Guantanamo”  
October 2006:  National Association of Women Judges: 28th Annual Conference: Keynote Speaker, “Women Judges at War”     
December 2005:  United States Air Force Academy; Presenter: “Loyalties as a Military Officer vs Loyalties to the Constitution”                      
June 2005:  Interview on 60 Minutes with Ed Bradley; “Defending Terrorists”                      
March 2005: Supreme Court Fellows Presentation; Presenter: “Military Justice vs Military Commissions – Mounting Defense Challenges”      
May 2004:  Sudan Bar Association & Judiciary; Khartoum, Sudan; Presenter: “The American Judicial System”


2005, Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage 
2005, Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Winner - ACLU 
2004, President’s Commendation, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 
1991, Outstanding Young Judge Advocate of the Year, Air Training Command 
1991, Air Force Association Company Grade Officer of the Year 
1991, Company Grade Officer of the Year, Lackland AFB, Texas 
1991, Company Grade Officer of the 2nd Quarter, Lackland AFB, Texas 
1987, American Jurisprudence Award/Constitutional Law, Thomas M. Cooley Law School


First Lieutenant 5 February 1990           
Captain               5 August 1990  
Major                  1 February 1997 
Lt Colonel         1 August 2002 
Colonel              1 May 2007