Contest: Options for 'Small Wars' Past & Future

Two established military-writing venues are combining forces to sponsor a contest that seeks 1,000-word essays on some aspect of "small wars," as defined by a 1940 field manual issued by the U.S. Marine Corps. Historical analysis and fictional "alternate history" approaches are allowable, as are considerations of perspectives of parties located outside the United States.

First-prize in the contest is $500; $300 for second-prize; $200 for third-prize. Up to five honorable mentions will receive $100 each. Selected entries will be published on both Divergent Options and Small Wars Journal. Deadline is May 31, 2019.

In the words of the 1940 "Small Wars" manual, “[…] small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of [the nation].”

Started in 2016, Divergent Options is a unique non-political site that features 1,000-word analytical essays on potential national security directions. While presenting options is the site's focus, note that editors and writers there avoid advocating specific policies.

Started in 2005, Small Wars Journal is a website and forum dedicated to exploring various aspects of "small wars"—as a catch-all term for unconventional and guerrilla warfare, also encompassing Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW), and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT).

Contest sponsors note:
For the purposes of this contest a writer may examine a current or historical small war or also look at a small war through the lens of an alternative future e.g. “An Assessment of the Impact of the U.S. Divesting its Small War Capability” or an alternative history e.g. “An Assessment of the Impact of the U.S. Not Supporting the Coup Against Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam in 1963” or “An Assessment of the Impact of the U.S. Not Assisting Iraq in Combatting the Islamic State.”  Also, while the definition of “small war” is U.S. centric, we encourage entries from all who are interested in writing on this topic as we understand that each country has its own “small war” policies and capabilities.
A full announcement about the partnered project between Divergent Options and Small Wars Journal is here.

In its standing call for submissions, Divergent Options site requires submissions adhere to specified formats. Options Papers assess national security situations, and present one or more options to address same. Assessment Papers describe a national security situation.

Pseudonyms are allowed.

Pending calls for papers by the Divergent Options website include:
  • Nationalism and Extremism (Opens March 2019)
  • Contemporary Conflict (Opens May 2019) Alternative Futures / Alternative Histories (Opens Late-August 2019)
  • Cyber and Space (Opens Late-October 2019)
  • Deterrence and D├ętente (Opens Late-December 2019)

Small Wars Journal is also a regular market for news, opinion, and analysis regarding various forms and aspects of warfare. Click here for an extensive resource and guidelines for submissions to that publication.


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