LTC Ronald Alcala

LTC Ronald Alcala

Academy Professor


Ronald Alcala is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. He is an Academy Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Strategy & Initiatives at the United States Military Academy, West Point. He also serves as Managing Editor of Articles of War and Executive Editor of the West Point Press.

Before joining the faculty, Lieutenant Colonel Alcala served as a Judge Advocate in a number of legal positions advising commanders on criminal law, international law, and administrative law issues. He is co-editor of The Impact of Emerging Technologies on the Law of Armed Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2019) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Society of International Law’s law of armed conflict interest group. His past assignments include Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, Special Operations Command Europe; Chief, Rule of Law, Multinational Division Center, Baghdad, Iraq; and Trial Counsel, Task Force Spartan and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Lieutenant Colonel Alcala is a recipient of NATO’s Serge Lazareff Prize for excellence in legal services and the American Society of International Law’s Richard R. Baxter Military Prize for scholarship on the law of war. He is also Senior Military Fellow at the Lieber Institute for Law and Warfare.

Lieutenant Colonel Alcala earned a B.A. in History and Classics from Williams College and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. He also holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and an LL.M. in Military Law from the Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Va. 

Publications & Presentations


“Field-Modified Weapons under the Law of War,” Articles of War (Feb. 13, 2023)

“Cultural Evolution: Protecting ‘Digital Cultural Property’ in Armed Conflict,” International Review of the Red Cross (June 2022)

“The Ukraine Conflict and the Future of Digital Cultural Property,” Articles of War (May 13, 2022)

“Legal Status of Ukraine’s Resistance Forces,” (with Steve Szymanski), Articles of War (Feb. 28, 2022)

“Afghanistan and Noncombatant Evacuation Operations,” Articles of War (Aug. 5, 2021)

“Opinio Juris and the Essential Role of States,” Articles of War (Feb. 11, 2021)

“Challenges in Regulating Lethal Autonomous Weapons Under International Law” (with Shane R. Reeves & Amy McCarthy), Southwestern Journal of International Law (2021).

“Rule of Law and Human Rights in Military Stability Operations: Clarifying the Military’s Role in Rule of Law Development,” Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law & Practice (Nov. 2019).

“Five Legal Takeaways from the Syrian War” (with Shane R. Reeves), Harvard National Security Journal (online) (Sept. 30, 2019).

“Chinese Fazhi and the International Order: How Chinese Legal Rhetoric Undermines Rule of Law” (with Eugene (John) Gregory & Shane R. Reeves), Harvard International Review (Sept. 14, 2019).

The Impact of Emerging Technologies on the Law of Armed Conflict (Eric Talbot Jensen & Ronald T. P. Alcala eds., Oxford University Press, 2019).

“China and the Rule of Law: A Cautionary Tale for the International Community” (with Eugene (John) Gregory & Shane R. Reeves), Just Security (June 28, 2018).

“Federal Court Vacancies Are a Crisis. Military Judges Are the Solution.” (with Shane R. Reeves), Foreign Policy (online) (Dec. 21, 2017).

“Babylon Revisited: Reestablishing a Corps of Specialists for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict,” Harvard National Security Journal (2015).

“Vanquishing Paper Tigers: Applying Comparative Law Methodology to Enhance Rule of Law Development,” The Army Lawyer (Mar. 2011).

“Prosecution Task Forces and Warrant-Based Operations in Multi-National Division–Center” (with John Haberland), in Rule of Law Handbook: A Practitioner’s Guide for Judge Advocates (Center for Law and Military Operations, 2009).


“War and Accountability,” Sciences Po (Menton), Apr. 2023

“Protecting ‘Digital Cultural Property’ in Armed Conflict,” 117th Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law, Mar. 2023

“U.S. Cooperation with the International Criminal Court on Ukraine,” Law and Policy Workshop, George Washington University Law School, Feb. 2023

“Cyber In Bello,” The Evolving Face of the Cyber and Information Conflict: A Futurespective, Tech, Law & Security Program, Washington College of Law, American University, June 2022

“The Law of Armed Conflict on the 2035 Battlefield,” Lieber Institute & Army Futures Command Conference on the Future Character of War (online), Apr. 2021

“The Evolving Face of the Cyber and Information Conflict,” Journal of Law and Cyber Warfare Lecture Series, Oct. 2020

“Humanitarian Assistance,” Emerging Issues in the Law of Armed Conflict, Harvard Law School, March 2020

“Leadership in Law, Business, and National Security,” George Washington University Law School, January 2019

“Autonomous Decision Making,” The Impact of Emerging Technologies on the Law of Armed Conflict, Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare, Oct. 2017

“Law of War Manual,” International Humanitarian Law Guidance to Military Forces, Harvard Law School, March 2017

“Jurisdiction over Cyber Activities,” Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations Symposium, Feb. 2017

“The Forgotten War: Engagement and Disengagement in Afghanistan,” Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, Syracuse University, 2008

“The Law of War and Rules of Engagement,” Syracuse University Law School, 2007