The Challenge

In the face of Russian aggression and Chinese military modernization, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has assessed that the "potential for significant international conflict is increasing." The 2022 National Defense Strategy directs the services to "act urgently to sustain and strengthen deterrence." Whether gray zone operations or strategic competition, naval forces are tied to every aspect of deterrence -- and to operations should deterrence fail. Faced with this deteriorating environment, this year's Naval Intelligence Essay Contest challenges you to think about how naval intelligence supports naval power across the Sea Services. Potential themes include:

  • How can naval intelligence support integrated deterrence?
  • How can naval intelligence rebuild a masterful knowledge of the adversary that characterized its work during the Cold War?
  • The Marine Corps' Force Design 2030 imagines lethal, survivable stand-in forces intimately tied to forces afloat. How does this new approach impact naval intelligence -- both supporting its operations and leveraging its potential?
  • What lessons does the current conflict in Ukraine offer naval intelligence?

Submission Guidelines

  • Open to all contributors -- active-duty, military, reservists, veterans, and civilians.
  • Essays must be no more than 2,500 words, excluding end notes and sources. Include word count on title page of the essay.
  • Essays are judged in the blind. Do not include author name(s) on the title page or within the body of the essay.
  • Submit essay as a Word document at no later than 31 July 2022.
  • Essay must be original and not previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere. 

First Prize: $5,000

Second Prize: $2,500

Third Prize: $1,500

Selection Process

A panel of expert judges compiled by the U.S.  Naval Institute and Naval Intelligence Professionals will evaluate and judge all entries submitted to the contest. Essays will be judged in the blind—i.e., the judging panel will not know the authors of the essays. Since we receive so many submissions (more than 100 per month!), notification of acceptance on one of our platforms can take 4-6 months. We will notify you via email if your essay is selected for a prize or for publication.

Announcement of the Winners

Winners will be recognized at the Naval Intelligence Professionals' Annual Meeting.

Selected Submissions

First Prize
Chief Petty Officer John Minor, U.S. Navy
Second Prize
Captain Robert Holmes, U.S. Marine Corps
Cosponsored by
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Naval Intelligence Professionals
Cosponsored by
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U.S. Naval Institute

Previous Winners

2023 Naval Intelligence Essay Contest Cosponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute and Naval Intelligence Professionals

First Prize
Lieutenant Commander Andrew Kramer, Lieutenant Commander Larry Green, and Lieutenant Corey Grey, U.S. Navy
Third Prize
Major William S. Holden, U.S. Marine Corps