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Advocating for Others

A BYU grad is guiding the US military’s legal response to some of the world’s most urgent needs.

This article appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of Y Magazine. Find it here.

On Aug. 15, 2021, as the United States military pulled out of Afghanistan, the US-backed government collapsed, prompting the largest noncombative humanitarian evacuation ever performed by the United States: Operation Allies Refuge. Despite chaotic scenes, confusion, and delays, US troops successfully evacuated more than 120,000 Afghans threatened by the Taliban due to their support of US actions during the war.

Many of these refugees were flown to Ramstein Air Base in Germany before being more permanently resettled. Awaiting them were Major Logan K. Daniels (BS ’10) and his team of judge advocate generals (JAGs), ready to provide logistical and legal coordination to meet the needs of the new arrivals. When they weren’t offering legal counsel and support, team members pitched in to help those who were making food and building shelters for the evacuees. They joined military families and others from the community (including Latter-day Saints wearing Helping Hands yellow). “We had thousands of people who volunteered their time and resources to help people they would never meet, from a country they would never know, and largely from a different religion,” Daniels recollects.

Later, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Daniels and his team charted unknown legal territory. Together they waded through the complex interests and legal frameworks underlying NATO, European partners, and other government agencies. They emerged with rules of engagement for Ukraine operations, from personnel recovery to air and missile defense of US forces and allies. “This ensures our teams could operate safely without risking escalation,” Daniels explains.

Daniels also assists individual service members with smaller-scale legal matters, such as drafting a will. “In being a JAG, you’re an attorney, and that means being an advisor of the law but also being a counselor,” he says.

Military law was not always on Daniels’s radar as a potential career. Originally, his dreams revolved around radio reporting. As a child he’d ride along with his mom on her delivery business, helping her navigate the Bay Area using paper maps. As they traveled, they’d listen to the radio. “I fell in love with the format,” he says. While studying political science at BYU, he kept that passion alive by working for BYU’s Classical 89 radio station. He also interned and later worked for KSL NewsRadio. Even as a law student, Daniels still focused on how he could apply what he was learning to radio journalism.

But after a year in law school, Daniels changed his mind. “I realized I actually really liked being an attorney,” he laughs. The law took him past reporting to actually implementing change. Daniels says, “I saw the law as the way to try and go a step further and advocate.”

That trajectory shifted even further when Daniels committed to the United States Air Force JAGs. Although he and his wife, Camilla Burton Daniels (BS ’08), had never imagined themselves as a military family, they embraced change and adapted to a service-focused life. While stationed in Germany the family of six would pack into a car and soak in as many cultural and historical sites as possible. Destinations ranged from World War II monuments that enthralled their history-buff son to castles that fulfilled all their daughters’ princess dreams.

And Daniels thrived in his role. “Whenever I jump into something, I jump in with both feet,” he says. “When I showed up [for training], they were ready for me, yelling, and I was ready to be yelled at.”

Daniels takes giving legal advice seriously—and not only because of the sensitive geopolitical context of large-scale operations. “It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and advise people what to do but not appreciate what that actually means for somebody in the cockpit or on the ground having to make those decisions,” he says. To bridge this gap, he is constantly researching. “When you know you’re engaged in something that is going to help somebody else, it gives you an energy and a motivation beyond what you would normally possess,” he says. “I can do no less than give them my best effort.”

Daniels sees God’s hand in his journey and continues striving to give his best in his different roles. “Heavenly Father knows me better than I know myself and knows my needs, my family’s needs, and knows the needs of people that I [serve] as a JAG. He has put me in those positions,” he reflects. “If it weren’t for God’s personal love and attention, we would not be enjoying life as we do.”

Daniels’s newest position is in Japan, where the family looks forward to discovering what service opportunities await them.

Full Name: Logan K. Daniels
Grad Year: BS 2010
College: Family, Home, and Social Sciences
Post date: May 29, 2024
Author: Julia K. Nebeker