The Challenge:

Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen face a more risky and potentially dangerous operating environment. How can the Sea Services promote daring enlisted leadership that does not incur unnecessary risk or sacrifice mission effectiveness?

For example, essays might consider:

  • Preparing to lead in combat
  • Ways to maximize training to lower risk to mission while improving morale and retention
  • Balancing leadership development with tactical acumen
  • Ensuring readiness and safety -- both on and off duty


Open to enlisted personnel—active duty, reserve and retired--from any of the nation's sea services.

Submission Guidelines

  • Essays must be no more than 1,500 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 title page or within the body of the essay.
  • Submit essay as a Word document at no later than 31 March 2024.
  • Essay must be original and not previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere. 

First Prize: $3,000

Second Prize: $2,000

Third Prize: $1,000

Selection Process

The Proceedings staff members will evaluate every essay and screen the top essays to a special Essay Selection Committee of at least six members who will include two members of the Naval Institute’s Editorial Board and four subject experts. All essays will be judged in the blind—i.e., the Proceedings staff members and judges 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 published in a future issue of Proceedings and recognized at WEST 2025.

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Previous Winners