DLA General Counsel Coyne retires after 38 years with DoD

By Chris Erbe

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Defense Logistics Agency General Counsel James M. Coyne retired after a 38-year career with the Department of Defense in a ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Aug. 10. Coyne served as an officer in the Army Judge Advocate General Corps for 28 years, retiring in 2008.

After his military career, he went to work for the U.S. Africa Command in Germany as deputy legal counsel. He joined DLA in 2010 as the associate general counsel for Operations Logistics and chief counsel for International Law and Overseas Operations. In 2012, he was inducted into the Senior Executive Service and served as DLA’s deputy general counsel before becoming general counsel in 2016.

DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams presided over the ceremony.

“As the general counsel, Jim has led the nearly 200 indispensable DLA legal professionals around the world in providing daily legal oversight of this agency’s over-$35 billion annual spend,” Williams said. “Since coming to DLA, Jim and his team have saved the Department of Defense more than $10 billion settling bid protests and contract disputes.”

As DLA’s first chief counsel for international law, Coyne was key to creating an annual training program to give DLA attorneys training in obtaining the proper authorities to conduct international agreements. He was instrumental in DLA’s international agreement with the government of Kyrgyzstan that ensured support of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Coyne and his team also negotiated interagency agreements with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard and others.

As the deputy general counsel and then general counsel, Coyne oversaw the provision of complex legal advice to three DLA directors responsible for supporting more than 2,300 weapon systems and managing 5 million items with a 27,000-employee workforce.

In February 2018, Secretary of Defense James Mattis tapped Coyne as acting convening authority and acting director for the Office of Military Commissions, overseeing trials of 9/11 suspects and other alleged war criminals held at Guantánamo Bay.

During the ceremony, Coyne was presented several awards, including the DLA Exceptional Civilian Service Award, an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol and a personalized DLA flag. A congratulatory letter was read from William A. Castle, acting DoD general counsel. Coyne’s wife of 34 years, Sally, was awarded a DLA Certificate of Appreciation for her support of Coyne over his long and distinguished career.

The audience included two former DLA directors, DoD officials, current DLA senior leaders and colleagues and members of Coyne’s extended family.

“Jim, you can be extremely proud of what you’ve accomplished in the Army, USAFRICOM and this agency,” Williams said. “You leave here with a legacy of honorable service to nation, with your reputation intact, having taken care of your people. Most importantly, you have done so with your family by your side.”

Coyne’s remarks included many thanks to those who supported him in his career. His plans include moving with his wife to Florida, pursuing his hobbies and reconnecting with family members.