Writing Contest Winners!


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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


2019 - Contest: Small Wars Journal Announcements

Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options Writing Contest

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Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options have joined forces in 2019 and are sponsoring a writing contest.

What:  A 1,000 word Options Paper or Assessment Paper examining a small war as defined in chapter 1 of the United States Marine Corps Small Wars Manual of 1940.  This definition is as follows “As applied to the United States, 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 our Nation.”

When:  Submit your 1,000 word Options Paper or Assessment Paper between March 1, 2019 and May 31, 2019 to submissions@divergentoptions.org.

Why:  To refine your thoughts on small wars, get your thoughts published on both Small Wars Journal and Divergent Options, and have a chance to win $500 for 1st Place, $300 for 2nd Place, $200 for 3rd Place, or be one of five Honorable Mentions that receives $100.

How:  Submissions will be judged by content, adherence to format, adherence to length, and grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  Submissions will be published after the contest closes.  Contest winners will be announced once the judging is complete.

Other Comments:  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.

2019 - Contest: Small Wars Journal Announcements

Partnership Announcement: Conflict Studies And Analysis Project (CSAAP)


Fulan Nasrullah is the Executive Director of the Nigeria-based Conflict Studies And Analysis Project (CSAAP).  The CSAAP is an intellectual exchange platform created to provide open source information and analysis on conflicts and security policy issues in the Lake Chad-Sahel region.  In addition to being the Executive Director of CSAAP, Divergent Options counts Fulan among our ranks of writers when in March 2018 he wrote “Options to Build Local Capabilities to Stabilise the Lake Chad Region.

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The CSAAP is part of the Global Initiative for Civil Stabilization (GICS).  The GICS is a mediation, humanitarian support, advocacy and research foundation, established to uphold the principles of responsibility to protect, impartiality, confidentiality, and independence.


In 2019 Divergent Options is partnering with CSAAP.  From a readers point of view, twice a month, on days other than when we publish our regular content, you will see CSAAP content posted on Divergent Options and Divergent Options content posted at CSAAP.  Additionally, CSAAP will provide writing prompts to support our Call for Papers efforts.  Writers who write to the CSAAP writing prompts will be published at both Divergent Options and CSAAP.  We are pleased that a relationship with one of our writers has blossomed into something more and are excited about what awaits both efforts in 2019!

Announcements Fulan Nasrullah Partner - Conflict Studies And Analysis Project

Announcing the Divergent Options Writer’s Forum


We recently discovered that we have the ability to establish discussion forums as part of our website.

Based upon this discovery we decided to build a closed forum for people who have written for Divergent Options.

We envision this closed forum as a place for our writers to have discussions, refine their thoughts on issues, network, seek guidance, and share opportunities.

We have contacted all of our writers via the last e-mail address we had on file to notify them of forum establishment.  If you have written for Divergent Options but have not been contacted regarding the forum please email us submissions@divergentoptions.org.

We look forward to seeing you on the forum soon!


Announcing the Assessment Paper!


When we started Divergent Options our main effort was our Options Paper.  Our Options Paper used a specific template and focused on assessing a national security situation, providing multiple options to address the situation, and articulating the risk and gain of each option, all in 1,000 words or less.

While we will continue our Option Paper line we are pleased to announce our Assessment Paper.  Our Assessment Paper will still have a 1,000 word limit but will focus on assessing a national security situation only.

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Jane Doe has served in Organization A in Country X and Country Y.  She presently works at Organization B where she does Z.  She can be found on Twitter @address and writes for website dot com.  Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

Title:  Assessment of the Threat Posted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  Note:  Titles will always begin with “Assessment of”

Date Originally Written:  September 25, 2014.

Date Originally Published:  September 29, 2014.

Author and / or Article Point of View:  Author is a retired military member. Author believes in Responsibility to Protect. And / or the article is written from the point of view of Latvia towards Russia, Vietnam towards China, or the U.S. towards the Civil War in Syria.

Summary:  If left unchecked, ISIL will establish a safe haven in Iraq and Syria where violent extremists and emerging violent extremists from around the world can congregate, assimilate, receive training, and be dispatched globally to conduct operations targeting civilians.  Beyond the conduct of operations, ISIL operatives dispatched worldwide will also be able to establish local cells to expand their influence.  Note:  “Summary” will be five lines of text maximum.  We strongly suggest you write your entire article first and then write the summary.

Text:  United States President Barack H. Obama withdrew United States forces from Iraq in December 2011[1].  The December 2011 withdraw date was set by President George W. Bush in 2008 when he signed a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq.  Following the departure of United States forces from Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pursued a number of policies that made the Sunni population of Iraq, formerly empowered by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, feel marginalized, excluded, and neglected by the Maliki government[2].  The lack of a stabilizing United States presence and Sunni marginalization laid the groundwork for the rise of ISIL.  Note:  This part of the article, called “Text,” is what will be counted against the 1,000 word limit.


[1]  Ryan, M. (2016, September 26). Who made the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq? Retrieved June 23, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2016/live-updates/general-election/real-time-fact-checking-and-analysis-of-the-first-presidential-debate/who-made-the-decision-to-withdraw-u-s-troops-from-iraq/?utm_term=.7694d4af3b1b  Note:  We prefer APA format for citations, which can be easily done via Citation Machine.

[2]  Something else in APA format.

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Announcements Assessment Papers