The Rules of War Blog is managed by the American Red Cross International Humanitarian Law team.
Randy Bagwell, U.S. Army Colonel (Ret)
Senior Director, International Services, U.S. Programs
Colonel (retired) Randy Bagwell serves as the Senior Director of International Services, U.S. Programs at the American Red Cross. This includes International Humanitarian Law, the IHL Youth Action Campaign, Restoring Family Links, and Missing Maps. at the American Red Cross. In this role, he supervises the IHL Team in the execution of their mission to educate and inform the American public on IHL. Prior to joining the American Red Cross, Randy was a career U.S. Army officer serving in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Randy last served in the army as Dean at the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Virginia. The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School is the only American Bar Association accredited law school within the U.S. government and is authorized to award a Masters in Laws degree in Military Law. In addition to his duties as Dean, Randy also taught classes in IHL and leadership. He has also taught IHL at the U.S. Naval War College, the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sanremo, Italy. Additionally, he has taught IHL as an officer in the U.S. Army in over twenty countries.
As a Judge Advocate, Randy advised senior military commanders on a wide variety of legal issues serving as the senior legal advisor (known as a Staff Judge Advocate) for U.S. Army Alaska, 3rd Infantry Division, and I Corps. In these positions, he participated in numerous operational exercises where he advised on IHL.
Randy’s operational deployments include Hungary in support of operations in Bosnia in 1996. With the 82nd Airborne Division as the Staff Judge Advocate for Coalition Task Force – 82 in Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002-2003. In Bagdad, Iraq as the Chief of Operational Law for Multinational Forces – Iraq, 2006-2007. Finally, with 3rd Infantry Division to Kandahar, Afghanistan as the U.S. Staff Judge Advocate and Senior NATO Legal Advisor to NATO Regional Command – South, 2012-2013. During these deployments in addition to leading legal teams addressing a variety of legal issues, Randy personally advised senior commanders on issues such as targeting, detention, and rule of law.
A frequent speaker and writer in IHL, Randy’s primary focus has been in the area of self-defense in IHL.
Randy retired in June 2018 with 29 years of active duty service and over 36 years of combined Active Duty, Army Reserve and National Guard service. He has four times been awarded the Legion of Merit and three times the Bronze Star for meritorious service.
Senior Legal Advisor, IHL
Molly Kovite is the Senior Legal Advisor for the American Red Cross IHL team and responsible for the day to day management of the team. As the child of a diplomat, Molly lived abroad from a young age and attended international schools throughout her childhood. This unique upbringing, allowed her to develop a broad perspective on world events and to develop a strong interest in international relations. Her degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Italian from Barnard College, Columbia University, New York City; a Masters of Arts in International Relations from Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland; and a Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, New York City.
Upon graduation from law school, Molly joined the US Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where she sought out opportunities to practice International Humanitarian Law. As a Judge Advocate, Molly served two combat deployments to Afghanistan where she advised soldiers and senior commanders on IHL. During her first Afghanistan deployment in 2012-2013, she served with 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division near Kandahar Afghanistan, where she advised on a wide variety of legal issues primarily focused on IHL, but that also included rule of law capacity building, adjudicating claims resulting from combat damage and soldier misconduct. In a subsequent assignment, Molly was selected to be one of the first two women to serve as legal advisors at a Special Forces line battalion. While serving in this job, Molly again deployed to Afghanistan, this time as the legal advisor for the Special Operations Task Force, Afghanistan from 2016-2017. In this position, she advised on a wide array of IHL issues, including targeting, operations, detentions, and rules of engagement. Molly also served as a legal advisor to the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives Command, where she advised the command on weapons of mass destruction. In addition to the Army Parachute Badge and the Combat Action Badge, Molly has also been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service.
Molly left active duty military in 2017 to spend time with her family and to continue to pursue her interests in IHL. She has published articles on IHL and role of women in combat. In addition to her work for the American Red Cross, Molly has also taught IHL as a lecturer at the University of Washington in Tacoma. She continues to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves as a Judge Advocate.
Esmé Aston is the International Humanitarian Law Program Officer focusing on the IHL Youth Action Campaign. She recently completed a Fulbright grant to Malaysia where she worked in public schools and designed programs to engage and empower youth. Esmé graduated with a bachelor's degree from Chapman University in Orange County California, and brings experience in recruitment, conference planning, program coordination, and implementing training programs. She developed an interest in international law during an internship at the United Nations and realized the importance of raising public awareness of international affairs. Esmé is passionate about promoting dialogue on global issues with youth and believes that education in International Humanitarian Law is critical to developing the next generation of leaders.