Welcome to the Department of the Navy (DON), Office of the General Counsel (OGC) website.  DON OGC has been serving the DON since 1941 and is committed to developing innovative legal solutions to the business and other challenges facing the Navy and Marine Corps.  You will find our attorneys located across the United States and worldwide and working with Navy and Marine Corps personnel wherever the DON’s business is conducted.




The General Counsel of the Navy is Mr. Garrett L. Ressing 


As the Acting General Counsel of the Navy, Mr. Ressing is the Department’s Chief Legal Officer. In addition to leading more than 1,100 attorneys and professional support staff in over 140 offices worldwide, he assists in the oversight of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and advises senior Navy and Marine Corps officials on litigation, acquisition, contract, fiscal, environmental, property, personnel, legislative, ethics, and intelligence law matters.  Additionally, in coordination with the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, he ensures that the intelligence, intelligence-related, and sensitive activities of the Department are conducted in a legal manner. As Acting General Counsel, he is also the senior ethics officer, oversees the Suspending and Debarring Official on acquisition matters, and manages the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program for the DON.


The Office of the General Counsel of the Navy provides legal advice to the Secretary of the Navy, the Under Secretary of the Navy, the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy and their staffs, and the multiple components of the DON, to include the Navy and the Marine Corps, in the management of over 780,000 service members and civilians. Click here for the Secretary of the Navy's Organizational Chart.







Our Mission




MISSION STATEMENT:  The Office of the General Counsel enables the Navy and the Marine Corps to fulfill their missions in the changing world by providing accurate, timely, responsive, and candid legal advice and counsel, effective advocacy, and creative problem solving.


VISION STATEMENT:  To be a world-class legal organization, composed of talented, trained, and dedicated professionals, working together to aid our clients in achieving the Department of the Navy's mission. 




Our Organization






Navy Yard


DON OGC has more than 1,100 attorneys and professional support staff supporting our Sailors, Marines, and civilian personnel.

Click on a box below to find out more about our various offices.


Central Office 

Organization Button 
Assistant General Counsel (Manpower and Reserve Affairs 
Assistant General Counsel (Acquisition Integrity Office (AIO) 
Assistant General Counsel National Security Law (NSL) 
Commander Navy Installations Command (CNIC) 
Naval Air Systems Command  
Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) 
Naval Research 



Our History



On September 10th, a Secretarial directive established the Procurement Legal Division within the Office of the Under Secretary of the Navy.


On August 15th, the Secretary of the Navy transferred all patent matters to the Procurement Legal Division to expedite questions of infringement, preparation of defenses for claims, stimulation of inventive enterprise, and preparation of appropriate contract clauses.


On August 3rd, the Procurement Legal Division was renamed “the Office of the General Counsel,”  the name it holds today, and H. Struve Hensel was appointed the first General Counsel.

Navy Struve Hensel
1st General Counsel of the Navy H. Struve Hensel (quote from April 21, 1951)

"I am hopeful of one more accomplishment. Maybe it has already been attained. I am hopeful that, by your counsel in procurement matters and your example of service and coordinated operation, you will cause others to examine your pattern and the basis for your high morale. I am hopeful that you can render major assistance in the successful coordination of the Navy and in the readjustments which must be made in this new mobilization. You can bring top management in the Navy more than a knowledge of commercial law. You can be a source of general analytical skill in seeking the essence of a problem and in understanding the lessons of the past. The need for such analytical skill has not diminished. The lawyer in private life achieves his best success when his general advice is considered to be as sage as his legal knowledge is wide. That is a worthy goal for an Office of General Counsel of the Navy Department."



This is the year that the Secretary of the Navy directed that the Office of the General Counsel shall be responsible throughout the DON for providing legal services in the field of business and commercial law and created the position of Counsel for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Office of Counsel for the Commandant, as part of DON OGC.


The Summer Law Clerk Program was born. General Counsel Trowbridge vom Baur initiated this program making the DON one of the first agencies to use law school students, while setting the stage for later recruitment. This year also marked an increase in contracting for shipbuilding with other countries.

General Counsel Throwbridge Vom Baur
General Counsel Trowbridge vom Baur

"In early 1957 Leon Satenstein and three contracting officers made a trip around the world in forty days to negotiate shipbuilding and conversion contracts with Japan, England, Italy, Netherlands, France and West Germany involving 16 ships and $33,000,000.00 for the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP). His mission was an unqualified success resulting in agreement executed on the spot in time to meet the April 30, 1957, appropriation deadline."



The Office of the General Counsel began another innovation by going to law schools to recruit summer law clerks and attorneys.


"As lawyers, we have a key role to play in a Government that prides itself in being a government of laws rather than a government of men. In our dealings with industry, we have an unusual freedom to seek solutions to legal problems that are fair to both Government and industry. In this respect, we can do much to animate what might otherwise become a faceless and unfeeling bureaucracy."


The General Counsel became a politically appointed position.


As part of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, the General Counsel’s role in the DON was established in 10 U.S.C. § 5019.


Approximately 540 attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel were assigned to the Central Office, the Legal Services Support Group, Assistant Secretaries, Systems Commands, Headquarters Offices of other commands, and 113 field offices, including field offices in Guam, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the United Kingdom.


By Executive Order 12879, the General Counsel was designated equal in rank to the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy

General Counsel Hart T. Mankin
General Counsel Hart T. Mankin
"We expect our lawyers to have outside interests and to enjoy a satisfying personal life. We do not wish or expect to make unreasonable demands upon our people. At the same time, it must be recognized that the law is a demanding master, and that a lawyer has obligations that cannot be measured by the clock."


"Thoughtful attention [has been] given to the impact of family life upon one's professional responsibilities. [Since] every individual is unique and the mix of factors to be harmonized is infinite, OGC policy shall be one of reasonable accommodation between the requirements of the office and the desires of the member. It should be our goal to combine the practice of law as a profession, the environment of employment in the Federal government, and the needs of the individual.”


DON OGC has evolved into an organization of over 740 attorneys and 200 professional staff located in over 140 different offices worldwide.