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Small Wars Journal & Divergent Options Writing Contest Winners!

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Writing Contest Winners!

Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options ran a Writing Contest from March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019 and as of this writing all of the entries we received have been published.  On behalf of the Divergent Options Team of myself (Phil Walter), Steve Leonard, and Bob Hein, and also on behalf of Dave Dilegge of Small Wars Journal, we want to thank all of our writers who entered the contest.  Not only was it a joy to read what you wrote, but for me personally, it is always an emotional event to see how Divergent Options has grown from a random idea scribbled in one of my notebooks to what it is today. Divergent Options would not be what it is without our writers, and for that I am eternally grateful.  All writings related to this contest can be found by clicking here, and the awards are as follows:

First Place $500:  Heather Venable – “Turning ‘Small’ Wars into ‘Big’ Wars: How Tacticians Endanger Us All

Second Place $300:  Ekene Lionel – “Assessment of the Existential Threat Posed by a United Biafran and Ambazonian Separatist Front in West Africa

Third Place $200:  Naiomi Gonzalez – “An Assessment of the Private Military Industry and its Role in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Honorable Mention $100:  Scott Harr – “Assessment of the Impacts of Saudi Arabia’s Vision2030 on U.S. Efforts to Confront Iran

Honorable Mention $100:  Gregory Olsen – “Assessment of the Efficacy of the French Military Intervention in the Northern Mali Conflict

Honorable Mention $100:  Sam Canter – “An Assessment of Population Relocation in 21st Century Counterinsurgencies

Honorable Mention $100:  Samuel T. Lair – “Assessing the Jefferson Administration’s Actions During the First Barbary Wars and their Impact on U.S. Small War Policy

Honorable Mention $100:  Edwin Tran – “Assessment of U.S. Strategic Goals Through Peacekeeping Operations in the 1982 Intervention of Lebanon

About the Author(s)

Phil Walter is the founder of Divergent Options.  Phil has served in the infantry, the United States Intelligence Community, and in strategy, policy, and program analyst roles.  All of his written works and podcasts, which do not contain information of an official nature, can be found at


Bill C.

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 10:27am

Congratulations to all !!!

To honor the first place winner, let us reflect, again for a moment, on her article Turning ‘Small’ Wars into ‘Big’ Wars: How Tacticians Endanger Us All.”  

As to this such discussion, today we may need to view these matters -- as in colonial days -- more from the perspective of:

a.  The COMMON imperialist ambitions of the nations of Global North; this, as relates their COMMON desire to "develop" the Global South; these such ambitions, however, 

b.  Resulting in INDIVIDUAL AND CONFLICTING difficulties -- relating to the INDIVIDUAL AND CONFLICTING "national priorities" of these such Global North nations, for example, as illustrated below:


“As a direct neighbor, China most wants to see peace, stability in Afghanistan,” said Chinese ambassador Zhang Jun said after the vote. “To have lasting peace in Afghanistan we always think there must be impetus for economic development.” ... 

Previous resolutions adopted in 2016, 2017 and 2018, welcomed international development for Afghanistan, including the "Belt and Road" initiative. Washington raised objections to inclusion of the language in March, however, when the resolution came up for renewal. The U.S. envoy accused China of making the resolution "about Chinese national political priorities rather than the people of Afghanistan” and said the Belt and Road initiative was notorious for "problems with corruption, debt distress, environmental damage and lack of transparency."


This being the case (common imperialist ambitions of the Global North -- yet individual and conflicting Global North "national priorities" relating to same  -- these make up today's complex "cooperation/conflict" environment), then from this such perspective, how might we view and discuss, today, such things as: 

a.  "How small wars might be turned into big wars" and, in this regard,

b.  "How tacticians can endanger us all?"

Again, congratulations to all those who won -- and indeed also all those who entered -- the Small Wars Journal & Divergent Options Writing Contest !!!