United States Air Force Academy

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Mr. Shawn D. McKelvy

Assistant Professor of Law

Department of Law

Shawn McKelvy
Contact Information

(719) 333-9161



Shawn D. McKelvy serves as an Assistant Professor of Law at the United States Air Force Academy. In this capacity he teaches future Air Force and Space Force officers in various law courses to include Law for Air Force Officers, Law of War and Advanced Law of War Studies, providing mentorship to cadets and faculty alike.

Professor McKelvy entered Air Force active duty in October 1999 as a judge advocate through the direct appointment program. After more than two decades of service, Shawn retired from active duty, changing uniforms to begin his second career as a civilian professor at USAFA in December 2021. In addition to his more than a decade of service as a member of the law faculty at USAFA, he also served as a deployed staff judge advocate, deputy staff judge advocate, and legal advisor with assignments at various wings, a combatant command, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.


Air War College, Correspondence (2013)

Air Command and Staff College, Seminar (2008)

Squadron Officer School, In-Residence (2002)

Juris Doctor (Dean’s Honors), Washburn University School of Law (1999)

Bachelor of Arts, Business Administration, Benedictine College (1996)

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor of Law, Department of Law, U.S. Air Force Academy (2021-present)

Senior Military Faculty and Associate Professor, Department of Law, U.S. Air Force Academy (2017-present)

Operations Law Attorney, NORAD and USNORTHCOM, Peterson AFB, Colorado (2016-2017)

Senior Military Faculty & Associate Professor, Department of Law, U.S. Air Force Academy (2012-2016)

Deputy Director, Legal Policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), Pentagon, Washington D.C. (2011-2012)

Deployed Staff Judge Advocate, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz Republic (2010)

Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, Arizona (2009-2011)

Assistant (later Associate) Professor, Department of Law, U.S. Air Force Academy (2005-2009)

Assistant Staff Judge Advocate (Chief of Military Justice and Labor Law), 96th Air Base Wing, Eglin AFB, Florida (2002-2005)

Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, Chief of Legal Assistance, Adverse Actions, and Military Justice, 375th Airlift Wing, Scott AFB, Illinois (1999-2002)

Honors & Awards

Heiser Award Finalist (award nominated/voted on by graduating class of cadets for instructor who contributed most to the personal/intellectual development of cadets/demonstration of Core Values) (2021)

NORAD & USNORTHCOM Thomas P. Keenan, Jr. Award Nominee (AFJAGS Award for most significant contribution to IHL/LOAC in the preceding year) (2017)

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Project voted as having the greatest potential for further application and impact at U.S. Air Force Academy (2017)

56th Fighter Wing FGO of the Year (2010)

56th Fighter Wing Staff Agencies’ FGO of the Year (2010)

19th Air Force’s Kuhfeld Award Nominee (2010)

U.S. Air Force Academy, Department of Law, Outstanding Academy Educator of the Year (2009)

U.S. Air Force Academy, Department of Law, Field Grade Officer (FGO) of the Year (2008)

U.S. Air Force Academy/CC’s Kuhfeld Award Nominee (2008)

U.S. Air Force Academy/CC’s Kuhfeld Award Nominee (Most outstanding Young JAG of Year) (2007)

96th Air Base Wing, Wing Staff CGO of the Year (2004)

375th Airlift Wing CGO of the Year (2010)

375th Airlift Wing Staff Agencies Company Grade Officer (CGO) of the Year (2001)

Research and Scholarly Interests

The intersection of Law of War and teaching pedagogy with a focus on simulation-based learning


Shots Fired, Shots Denied: Scientific, Ethical & Legal Challenges Surrounding the Military’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate (work in progress – publication forthcoming)

The Reluctant Warrior: The Challenges to Instilling Law of War Values in Today’s Professional Warrior, Studia Iuridica, University of Warsaw (forthcoming in 2019) (co-authored with Prof Chad Austin, USAFA/DFL)

The Role of Simulation Based Learning at the Pictet Competition . . . and Beyond (book chapter) A Tribute to Jean Pictet, Thomas Reuters Canada Limited (2016) (co-authored with Prof Chad Austin, USAFA/DFL)

The “Ethical” Case for Trying Civilian Contractors Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, The South Texas Law Review, Volume 50, No 4 (Summer 2009) (co-authored with (now) Lt Col Chris Morgan, USAFA/DFL)

Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) Scenarios for 7th – 18th Annual LOAC Competition for Military Academies, Int’l Institute of Humanitarian Law, San Remo, Italy (2008 – present)