Katrina Johnson '06 Participates in Discussion About Critical Thinking in the Military

Mission: Intellectual
Fountain Walker, Katrina Johnson, Tobias Switzer, and Brian Penoyer
University of Chicago Magazine
September 14, 2012

At Alumni Weekend, UChicago’s Military Affinity Group and the Committee for Veterans Affairs organized a panel on “Critical Thinking in the Armed Forces: A Chicago Perspective.” Moderated by Marine Corps veteran and UChicago police commander Fountain Walker, the panel included Katrina Johnson, JD’06, who served as a brigade judge advocate in northwest Iraq and now works at a private firm in Washington; Tobias Switzer, SB’99, an Air Force major who flew helicopters in support of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in Iraq and now advises foreign special operations aviation units; and Brian Penoyer, AB’88, a 22-year Coast Guard captain and acting chief of congressional and governmental affairs. He’s also a military fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Fountain Walker How does an officer differentiate between the military mission and his or her moral compass?

Katrina Johnson I was a legal adviser, so I didn’t get to make my own decisions. There’s legal advice that we give called “legal but stupid.” My brigade commander ... would say, “Katrina, we have a mission, we need to make it happen, you need to get to