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At Year’s End, the CA Corps Loses a Unique Warrior-Diplomat

(Left to right: Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Boyd, Col. (Ret.) Rubini, Col. (Ret.) Len DeFrancisci, and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Bruce Bingham at the October 2022 CA Corps Dinner in Carlisle, PA. All but Boyd were serving at the time on the Civil Affairs Issue Papers Committee.)

As 2023 became 2024, the Civil Affairs Corps lost one of its most impactful Warrior-Diplomats – Colonel (Ret.) Daniel L. (“Larry”) Rubini, who passed away peacefully on the last day of the year in the presence of his family after a long fight with cancer.

In his 32-year military career, Rubini was chief of the Government and Special Functions Teams and staff judge advocate (SJA) at the 358th CA Bde. before retiring in February 2000. He also served as SJA to the 304th CA Bde. as well as Trial/Defense Counsel in the 153rd JAG Det. He deployed to Desert Shield/Storm as advisor to the Kuwait Ministry of Justice, to Haiti in Operation Uphold Democracy as Ministry of Justice Advisor, and on four Military Advisory Teams as Team Chief Justice. In Central America, he was J5 (Strategic Planning & Policy) to the United States Southern Command’s Forward Command Element for Hurricane Mitch reconstruction.

Parallel to his military service was a decades-long legal career, including his law practice and service as a U.S. administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration Office of Hearings and Appeals, in Philadelphia, PA, where he spent most of his life. A native of Buffalo, NY, Rubini earned his Juris Doctor degree from Temple University Law School.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Justice as part of the Coalition Provisional Authority, taking over from retired Brig. Gen., Donald Campbell, who commanded the 353rd CA Command during the last war there.

“He replaced me in Iraq and stepped-up big time in Baghdad, doing an amazing job there” Campbell reminisced.  “Larry was universally loved and respected for his dedication, diligence and brilliant intellect. As a federal judge, colonel in our Army and as the senior advisor to the ministry in Baghdad, he served with absolute distinction.” Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Matthews, who followed Campbell as one of Rubini’s 353rd commanding generals, noted how “Larry touched an incredible number of people.” Another, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Steven Hashem, remembered “his dedication and contributions were second to none.”

His combined experiences and knowledge helped him master such moments. In a White House online public chat, he channeled T.E. Lawrence on how it was better to let the Iraqis restore their legal system than to “Americanize” it, reintroducing universal concepts of fairness and due process. “The Spanish civil code is a good example of what criminal and civil law would look like here. Even other Islamic states will debate for years to come what is the proper role of Sharia law, women in their society, and freedom of religion.”

As with most CA practitioners, Rubini’s rich insight also benefited from more personal moments. “I have worked with good people trying to find their way to peace and prosperity,” he said in the same online chat, explaining how an Iraqi family invited him to their home, giving every hospitality. “The dinner was huge, and delicious. This man is not a rich man. He struggles on a policeman’s pay. Iraqis want the same things we want and they want a justice system… that allows people to live with dignity and without fear of discrimination based on language, race, ethnicity, social class or political affiliation.”

In his own way, Rubini was “doing [information operations] all the time,” as keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Kelly Dickerson, a CA veteran at the Office of the Chief of Army Reserve, advised current CA professionals to do at last month’s Civil Affairs Conference.

That includes telling the CA story. In March 2003, Rubini, along with Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Bruce Bingham and Col. (Ret.) Michael Cleary, published an historic article for the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) on CA as the Army’s “Ounce of Prevention.” As many of his kind there, he thought the real task at hand was to “secure the victory.”

“Bureaucracies—military and civilian—that reward rule following are inherently ill suited to think innovatively about asymmetrical threats. The U.S. military has only a handful of such people among their substantial special operations forces who truly can think ‘outside the box…’ So far, the United States has used symmetric force on an asymmetric threat… [it] clearly needs a strategy nothing short of a new political order with a plan of reform that invokes diplomatic, economic and military elements. And the U.S. military has a unique capability in the Civil Affairs branch with its military government heritage... [It] is currently focused on waging and winning a war, but must become focused on securing the victory.”

In addition to the CA Association, Rubini served with AUSA, the Military Order of the World Wars, the Military Officers Association of America, and the Reserve Organization of America. For some years, he was active in Revolutionary War reenactments, recalled Association Secretary Col. (Ret.) Edgar Seely, who served with him in Desert Storm, Haiti and as Judge Rubini’s chief of staff at the Iraq Ministry of Justice. This includes the Washington Crossing site near where Rubini will be laid to rest at the Washington National Cemetery in Newtown, PA on Tuesday, 9 January, according to his obituary.

For his outstanding service in multiple ways, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command named him a Civil Affairs Distinguished Member of the Regiment.

After the news broke that “a true warrior and friend has left us today,” as former Association president Col. (Ret.) Joe Kirlin phrased it, tributes came pouring in. “He was a gentleman... He made all who knew him proud to be CA Soldiers,” recalled Col. (Ret.) R. Alan King. “His loyalty and efforts on behalf of Civil Affairs benefitted us all,” Bingham added. “Larry quietly made such a huge difference in all our lives,” echoed Col. (Ret.) Michael Hess.

“This past year, I played a small part in ensuring the personal artifacts Larry donated to the Special Warfare Museum made it to their destinations,” Association Director Col. (Ret.) Dennis Cahill revealed. “His contributions to U.S. Army CA history are secure.”

Cahill’s fellow Civil Affairs Issue Papers senior editor, Col. (Ret.) Christopher Holshek summed up the collective sentiment, including on the Papers Committee as a sharp-eyed copy editor. “As we endeavor forward into the future, let us remember the shoulders of people like Larry on which we stand. Requiescat in pace, my friend. See you in Valhalla.”

Association president Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Hugh Van Roosen has directed dedication of the upcoming 10th volume of the Civil Affairs Issue Papers to the late Col. (Ret.) Larry Rubini.


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Very sorry to hear of COL Rabini's passing. I first met him in Haiti, I believe (soo long ago) and ran into him several times, both in the US and on deployments, after that. It was interesting that I also worked for the Social Security Administration in a capacity that reviewed the decisions of administrative law judges (ALJs); however, I never reviewed work from his geographic region. It was a source of tension with some ALJs because we reviewers were mostly non-attorney, and it sometimes challenged their egos to have their work returned by non-attorney reviewers for revisions or corrections. COL/Judge Rabini never ever showed a hint of anything other than friendly camaraderie whenever we met, and in fa…


Requiescat In Pace 🙏🏻

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