February 2024:
Coordinators provide names of judges to NDU Press.

April 2024:
Deadline for schools to submit nominated papers to NDU Press (POC: Jeff Smotherman,

May 2024:
Judges report first-round scores to NDU Press.

May 2024:
Judges attend final-round conference at NDU.


For further information, please contact:

Jeff Smotherman
Managing Editor

CJCS National Defense and Military Strategy Essay Competition

National Defense University (NDU) Press will host the 43rd Annual CJCS Essay Competition for Academic Year 2023-2024, culminating in the final round of judging in May 2024. This competition challenges students at 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 thinking about national defense and military strategy, 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 JPME school. First, the 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 of two categories: Strategic Research Essay and Strategy Article.

Click here to read the competition rules

The 2023 Winning Essays: CJCS Strategic Research Paper

Strategic Research Paper

First Place (Tie)
Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Donham, USA

U.S. Army War College
“It’s Not Just About the Algorithm: Development of a Joint Medical Artificial Intelligence Capability”

Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Peace, USSF
Air War College
“Space Denial: A Space Deterrence Strategy”

Second Place
Lieutenant Colonel Adam Dykstra, ANG
Air War College
“A World Without Truth: How AI and Social Media Are Shaping Disinformation”

Third Place
Lieutenant Colonel Tony G. Lawrence, USAF

National War College
“Frozen Ambitions: Building U.S. Influence for Greater Arctic Security”

Strategy Article

First Place
Colonel Rob Rodrigues, USA

U.S. Army War College
“Promoting Accountability in Military Sexual Assault Prosecutions”

Second Place
Lieutenant Colonel Jason R. Wayne, USA

U.S. Army War College
“Urban Wars: The Convergence of Tactics and Strategy”

Third Place
Major Chad Everett, USAF

Air Command and Staff College
“Quantum Technology”

For the 2023 competition, the winning and other worthy essays will be published in Joint Force Quarterly 111 (4th Quarter 2023), 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. 

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.