February 15, 2023:
Coordinators provide names of judges to NDU Press.

April 21, 2023:
Deadline for schools to submit nominated papers to NDU Press (POC: Jeff Smotherman,

May 5, 2023:
Judges report first-round scores to NDU Press.

May 11-12, 2023:
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 42nd Annual CJCS Essay Competition for Academic Year 2022-2023, culminating in the final round of judging in May 2023. 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 2022 Winning Essays: CJCS Strategic Research Paper

Strategic Research Paper

First Place
Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Tate, USA

U.S. Army War College
“Transparent Cyber Defense”

Second Place
Commander Von P.H. Fernandes, USN
Lieutenant Colonel Nita McQuitery, USAF 
Major Lucas Hoffmann, USA
Major Ashley Gunn, USAF

Joint Forces Staff College–Joint and Combined Warfighting School
“The World in 90 Minutes or Less: Rocket Logistics and Future Military Operations”

Third Place
Lieutenant Commander Stephanie Pendino, USN
Major Robert K. Jahn, Sr., USA
Kirk Pedersen, Defense Intelligence Agency

Joint Forces Staff College–Joint and Combined Warfighting School
“Declaratory U.S. Cyber Deterrence: Bringing Offensive Capabilities into the Light”

Strategy Article

First Place
Captain Kimberly Sandberg, USN
Captain Kevin Pickard, USN
Lieutenant Colonel Jay Zwirblis, USAR
Lieutenant Colonel Speight H. Caroon, USAF

Joint Forces Staff College–Joint and Combined Warfighting School
“Health Diplomacy: A Powerful Tool in the Great Power Competition”

Second Place
Major Lim Wonho, Republic of Korea Air Force

Air Command and Staff College
“Implications of South Korea’s Growing ‘Middle Power Identity’ on the U.S. East Asia Policy”

Third Place
Captain Jonathan J. Park, USAF

Marine Corps University–Expeditionary Warfare School
“Traumatic Brain Injuries: Improving the U.S. Military’s Diagnoses Process”

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.