Sergeant wins Military Review writing contest
October 17, 2008
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - A sergeant beat 34 competitors, mostly officers, for the top prize in this year's Gen. William E. DePuy Writing Contest.
Sgt. Jared Tracy, noncommissioned officer in charge of the medical laboratory at Munson Army Health Center, won first place and a $1,000 prize for his essay, "Ethical Challenges in Stability Operations and Nation-Building."
Tracy, who is also this year's NCO of the Year for the Medical Activity, got the idea for entering the writing contest while researching for his doctorate in history from Kansas State University.
"I saw the topic for the competition was 'actions to be taken in the aftermath of conventional operations,'" Tracy said. "It just so happened I was working on a paper about post-conventional strategies to achieve total victory."
Although he works in a medical lab, Tracy also holds a bachelor's degree in history with a minor in political science and a master's in history, both from Virginia Commonwealth University. Tracy has served in the Army for five years.
Tracy's essay will be published in the November/December issue of Military Review.
Col. John Smith, director of Military Review, said a panel of experts does a blind evaluation of the entries, so there are no names or ranks attached. The topics are chosen in advance, but Smith said contest judges accept a broad range of submissions with an appropriate focus.
He said this is the first time in recent memory that a sergeant has won the contest.
"Generally our readers and our contributors are field grade and general officers, ambassadors and nationally known journalists," Smith said, "so the fact that a sergeant won it is a very good surprise. I think it reflects the rising level of education among noncommissioned officers and also involvement in the Army's operations and strategic thinking."
Second-place winner for the DePuy contest for $750 was Belgian Army Maj. Erik A. Claessen, with his essay, "To the Victor Go the Sores: Learning from Moderate Muslim Governments: Approaches to Islamist Militant Activism."
Third-place winner for $500 was Maj. Thomas J. Sills, for his essay, "Counterinsurgency Operations in Baghdad - The Action of 1-4 Cavalry in 2007/2008 East Rashid Security District."
Fourth-place winner for $250 was Maj. Louis P. Melacon's essay, "Making Use of What is Already there: Leveraging Liminality in Post Conflict Security Sector Reform."
Tracy argues in his paper that there is a foreign policy precedent for stability operations. Good stability operations, he said, must have two components: security and order, and a moral obligation or ideological factor.
Tracy gave a few examples, drawn from his knowledge of history. Tracy's paper cited the American occupation of various cities in the aftermath of the Mexican War in the 1840s as an example of maintaining order without the precondition of establishing a democracy.
"Order cannot be achieved, at least not successfully, without that sense of moral obligation," Tracy said.
He plans to use his prize money toward his family's house fund. He and his wife are hoping to purchase a home soon.
Tracy said winning the contest was a surprise.
"Part of me is elated," he said. "I'm overjoyed, and then part of me is, 'Oh, wow, I opened myself up to this academic scrutiny,' which is fine. But overall I'm just extremely happy and honored with the results."
(Melissa Bower writes for the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper.)