Professors from all joint professional military education institutions will converge on Fort McNair tomorrow to begin the final round of judging in the 4th Annual Secretary of Defense and 29th Annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Essay Competitions. This year’s contests drew a record number of submissions—76—from both U.S. and foreign military and civilian students, all with their eyes on the prize of having their work published in Joint Force Quarterly, potentially meeting the Secretary of Defense or Chairman in person, and appearing on one of America’s favorite game shows.
Uh, wait a minute—that last thing isn’t part of the prize. But that didn’t stop 2004 CJCS Essay Competition winner Col David Belote, USAF, from making it happen. Then LtCol Belote tied for first place with his paper, “The Political Role of Regional Combatant Commanders,” which he wrote while attending the National War College. Sharing the first-place prize may not have been a lifelong dream for Col Belote, but appearing on the game show Jeopardy! was. After numerous attempts to get on the show, Col Belote, now 99th Air Base Wing Commander at Nellis Air Force Base, appeared on the program in December 2009 and racked up a six-show winning streak.
Whether Col Belote’s triumph in the CJCS Essay Competition led to his success on Jeopardy! has yet to be proven, but we like to think there is a connection—especially if it encourages even more participation in next year’s competitions.