The 2012 MajGen Harold W. Chase Prize Essay Contest featured essays that ranged from land navigation training to proposed changes to planning processes. All of the essays submitted were competing for the title of the best “bold and daring” submission for 2012. The Marine Corps Gazette editorial board selected first and second place articles. The board also selected one article for honorable mention.
First place prize ($3,000 and a plaque) will be awarded to LtCol Maria McMillen for her essay, “Seizing the Opportunity to Change: Optimizing Marine Forces in the Pacific.” Facing a fiscally constrained future and arefocusing of U.S. military power toward the Asia-Pacific theater, LtCol McMillen addresses the Marine Corps’ approach to force reduction options:
. . . cut around the edges, and provide a smaller and less capable version of its former self . . . or . . . make drastic changes and reemerge … as a more capable and better designed fight force.
The author presents the reasons for focusing on the Pacific area of operations and lets the reader know that the Marine Corps faces a unique opportunity to view the fiscal reduction, force structure, and shifts in operational warfighting focus as a holistic endeavor rather than three nonintersecting efforts.
The second place prize ($1,500 and aplaque) will be awarded to LtCols Mark Zipsie and Mark Elfers and Maj Brad Tippett for their essay, “Don’t Accomplish Your Plan; Accomplish Your Mission.” The authors begin with the comment that:
Whether in an engagement, battle, or campaign, the interactions between all players create new realities, previously unconceived, which change conditions and call for new thinking and new courses of action.
Efforts to create the “perfect” plan risk losing “intellectual flexibility” within the planning process. The Marine Corps needs to accept an 80 percent planning solution and develop sets of “branch plans” that are readily available, off-the-shelf, and provide adequate initial guidance to subordinate commanders.
One essay was also selected for honorable mention ($500 and a plaque). This year Maj John Jordan received honorable mention for his essay, “The Neglected Military Skill: Enlisted Land Navigation.” “The average enlisted infantry Marine is unable to conduct land navigation without the aid of a global positioning system.” Maj Jordan contends that Marines “operating away from the town center demonstrated unfamiliarity with the properties of maps and magnetic compasses.” This observation is based on his deployment as a forward air controller to Afghanistan in 2008. Offering several anecdotes, the author lays out solid rationale for making land navigation training an integral part of enlisted training.
MajGen Chase, in whose honor this award is named, had distinguished careers as a Marine officer, an educator, an author, and a public official. He served in World War II and commanded a company in the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, on Iwo Jima, where he was twice wounded. As a Reserve officer, he returned to active duty during Korea and Vietnam. He was a founder of the adjunct faculty at the Command and Staff College. MajGen Chase firmly believed that the strength and usefulness of the Marine Corps depend, first and foremost, upon the frank, open exchange of ideas among leaders of all ranks. The Chase Prize Essay Contest, with its Boldness and Daring Awards, exists to further that worthy goal.