National Defense University (NDU) will host the 36th Annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Essay Competition for Academic Year 2016–2017, culminating in the final round of judging in May, 2017. This competition challenges students at the joint professional military education (JPME) institutions to research and write scholarly essays about significant aspects of national defense and military strategy.

The purpose of this competition is to stimulate strategic thinking, promote well-written research, and contribute to a broader security debate among professionals. NDU Press manages the competition in three phases, with assistance from coordinators and faculty judges representing each participating school. First, the JPME schools conduct internal competitions and submit their best essays to NDU Press. Second, judges evaluate nominated essays from other schools at their home station via the Internet. Finally, judges travel to NDU for the final round conference to determine winners in each category.

Students may enter essays in one or both of two categories: a "Strategic Research Paper" or "Strategy Article."

Click here to read the competition rules

The 2016 Winning Essays: CJCS Strategic Research Paper

FIRST PLACE, Strategic Research Paper:
Lieutenant Colonel David A. Mueller, USMC
Air War College
Civil Order and Governance as Military Responsibilities

SECOND PLACE, Strategic Research Paper: Major Jeff Wong, USMCR
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
“Interwar-Period Gaming Today for Conflicts Tomorrow: Press Start to Play”

THIRD PLACE, Strategic Research Paper:
Lieutenant Colonel Max Pearson, USAF
National War College
“Convenient but Dangerous: Understanding China's Defense”


The 2016 Winning Essays: Strategy Article

FIRST PLACE, Strategy Article:
Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Dean McCoy, USA
U.S. Army War College
The Palestinian Authority Security Force: Future Prospects

SECOND PLACE, Strategy Article:
Lieutenant Colonel Jaren Keith Price, USA
U.S. Army War College
“The Rebirth of Japan's Amphibious Forces: Regional Security Implications”

THIRD PLACE, Strategy Article:
Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin R. Jonsson, USAF
U.S. Army War College
“Terminating Conflict with the Islamic State”



For the 2017 competition, the winning and other worthy essays will be published in Joint Force Quarterly 87 (4th Quarter 2017), the CJCS professional military, interagency, and security studies journal; or in the journal PRISM, the Journal of the Center for Complex Operations; or in other NDU Press publications as appropriate. Authors of the first-, second-, and third-place essays will be recognized by the CJCS with certificates and—if conditions permit—a personal meeting with the Chairman. Finally, the first-place winners will receive a monetary prize courtesy of the NDU Foundation.

This is a joint, interagency writing competition, and essays are expected to meet rigorous academic standards. Thus senior faculty commitment in each participating college or school is an imperative for a healthy competition. Faculty essay coordinators are requested to actively promote and inform students of the opportunity to compete with their colleagues, and faculty judges are requested to make a significant investment of their time in reading and evaluating essays during both phases of judging. 


March 31, 2017:
Coordinators provide names of judges to NDU Press

April 21, 2017:
Deadline for schools to submit nominated papers to NDU Press

May 10, 2017:
Judges report first-round scores to NDU Press

May 18-19, 2017:
Judges attend final-round conference at NDU


For further information, please contact:
Dr. Bill Eliason 
Director, NDU Press
Editor in Chief, JFQ