MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., --
A 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Marine landed a highly coveted writing award recently for his vision of the Marine Corps for the 21st Century.
Maj. Jonathan Howard, a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner with 2nd MAW, captured first place in the 3rd annual Lt. Col. Earl “Pete” Ellis Essay Contest, which is sponsored by the Marine Corps Gazette. The contest invites Marines to suggest possible solutions for achieving the vision of Expeditionary Force 21 while operating in a fiscally austere environment.
Howard’s essay, “Force Optimization, Regional Alignment and Naval Integration, How the Marine Corps can implement the vision of Expeditionary Force 21 with fewer resources” earned him a $5,000 prize, an engraved plaque and a place for his essay in the February 2015 edition of the Gazette. The awards were presented to Howard by Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, 2nd MAW commander, on Dec. 11, 2014.
The contest is named for Lt. Col. Earl “Pete” Hancock Ellis, who, in the early 1920s, proposed an idea to enhance the Marine Corps’ amphibious capabilities for future engagements – an idea which was later implemented by the Marine Corps in the years leading up to World War II.
It is that kind of forward thinking that’s rewarded in the Marine Corps Gazette contest.
The contest is open to Marines and civilians interested in expanding dialogue with creative ideas and solutions for how a fiscally constrained Navy-Marine Corps team can effectively execute the full range of naval amphibious operations in future threat environments.
“This is an extremely humbling experience,” said Howard, a Union, S.C., native. “My peers and mentors helped me by providing me with feedback. My family helped me by being supportive, so I cannot take full credit for winning the essay.”
Howard hopes key decision makers will read his essay and implement some of his ideas.
“This was my first time competing in any type of writing contest,” said Howard. “The inspiration to participate in the essay came from my concern for the Marine Corps and its future.”
Howard’s nine-page essay encourages a strong Navy-Marine Corps integration plan to face the global challenges of the 21st century.
In the essay, Howard explains the importance of a cohesive Navy-Marine Corps team as a dynamic amphibious force and creating standing Marine Expeditionary Brigades, which would increase cohesiveness and mutual support across the globe despite budget constraints.
"The Marine Corps has a lot of historical experience dealing with budget constraints,” said Howard. “A lot of people assumed that the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan would reduce our operational requirements, but that didn’t happen. The operational demands on our service remain high. We must use critical and creative thinking to provide the nation with the force it needs even when we don’t have the resources that we would like to have.”