Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Belmont Abbey College in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He was commissioned through the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps Student Program and in 1983 graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill. He later earned a Master of Laws in Ocean and Coastal Law from the University of Miami School of Law and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
Crawford served from 2012-2015 as the deputy judge advocate general of the Navy and commander, Naval Legal Service Command. As commander, Naval Legal Service Command, he led the judge advocates, enlisted legalmen and civilian employees of 14 commands worldwide, providing prosecution and defense services, legal assistance services to individuals and legal support to shore and afloat commands.
Crawford served from 2007-2011 as legal counsel to the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. From 2011-2012, he served as commander, NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission/Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan.
Before his appointment to flag rank, he served as special counsel to the chief of naval operations, the senior staff judge advocate for the commander, U.S. Pacific Command and as the fleet judge advocate for U.S. 7th Fleet. In command, he served as commanding officer, Region Legal Service Office Southeast.
Crawford also served at Navy Personnel Command; the Office of the Legal Counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Naval War College; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; the Naval Justice School and Cruiser-Destroyer Group 8. He began his legal career as a defense counsel at the Naval Legal Service Trial Defense Activity, Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
Crawford is the 43rd judge advocate general of the Navy. Crawford is the principal military legal counsel to the secretary of the Navy and chief of naval operations and serves as the Department of Defense representative for ocean policy affairs (REPOPA). He also leads the 2,300 attorneys, enlisted legalmen and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community.
Crawford is a member of the state bar of North Carolina. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal (three awards), the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards) and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.