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AUSA sponsors first Army writing award at Air War College

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) sponsored the first ever Army writing award at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama, that was presented during a ceremony on May 19.  

The Army award is named the Lieutenant General Elwood “Pete” Quesada Award, in honor of the legendary U.S. Army Air Forces leader, visionary airman, and staunch advocate of close air support to ground forces.

The first recipient of the award was Lt.  Col. Patrick M. O’Hara, an Army Special Forces officer, for his professional studies paper titled “Is the United States Ready to Use Unconventional Warfare in the Future?”  

The award recognizes excellence in both research and writing on strategic topics related to the land domain of warfare and is available to all students in the college’s resident program.

The Air War College Class of Academic Year 2016 represents the inaugural year for the Army writing award and brings the total number of academic awards available to students of all services to 18.  

In his paper, O’Hara asserts that “policy makers should be educated on the effectiveness, low cost, minimal signature, and viability of unconventional warfare to meet national security objectives,” and that unconventional warfare should be added as “a directed Special Operations Forces mission in support of national security objectives throughout all levels of published national strategy.”

O’Hara was advised in his research by Col. Barry Jones, an Army faculty member assigned to the Air War College.   

Prior to attending the Air War College, O’Hara commanded the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  

His next assignment will be Deputy J5, Special Operations Command Central in Tampa, Florida.  

The Army faculty, led by Col. Jimmy McConico, in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army, established this award designed by Col. Christopher Wilbeck who worked diligently with both the AUSA staff and the Air War College’s director of research. 

To be eligible for the award, research papers must first be nominated by the student’s academic adviser based on the quality and applicability to the sponsor’s desired content.  Then the director of research and electives chooses a panel of faculty best able to evaluate the merits of nominated papers – both on content and writing.  

For AY16, an all-Army panel comprised of three faculty members examined the 11 papers to select the winner.    

The Air War College, one of 10 education centers assigned to the U.S. Air Force’s Air University (also located at Maxwell Air Force Base) is a Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase II accredited  professional education institution for senior military officers and their counterparts across U.S. federal agencies, in addition to selected international fellows from up to 45 different countries. 

The college graduates up to 250 students from its 10-month resident program and another 2,800 from its distance learning program annually.  

Forty Army students were part of the resident class of that graduated on May 19.  

In addition to O’Hara, though not sponsored by AUSA, two other Army students received awards for research and writing excellence: Col. Beth Behn for her work on senior leadership innovation, and Lt. Col. Michael C. Henderson for producing the best reserve component paper.