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Doctrine essay contest winners announced

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Evan Lichtenhan
  • Air University Public Affairs

With 29 essays submitted, the Inspiring Doctrinal Innovation (IDI) judges chose the three-winning submissions at Maxwell AFB, June 13, 2024.

With the prompt “How AI will necessitate changes to US Air Force Doctrine,” the writers were given until midnight of May 5th to complete their essays.

“The essays are judged in a few rounds,” said J. Todd Self, LeMay Center for Air Force Doctrine Development and Education outreach team. “We first look at each submission to ensure it met the submission criteria. If it did, then those essays are forwarded to a panel of judges around Air University who have some expertise in the topic area for the essay or are just doctrine subject matter experts.”

Once essays are with the judges, they are scored on two metrics. The first being how well the essay answers the prompt, and the second metric rates the essays in comparison to each other.

“The top five papers based on the judge scores are then sent to the leadership and additional doctrine subject matter experts around the Doctrine Development Directorate to judge, using the same criteria,” Self said. “The top 3 are the winners based on that final round.”

After waiting weeks for their results, we congratulate the top three winners:

1. 1st Lt. Ian Palmer, 43d Electronic Combat Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.The essay topic was “Accelerating Decision-Making Through Human-Machine Teaming.”

2. Tech. Sgt. Matthew Calhoun, 566th Intelligence Squadron, Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado. The essay topic was “Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the United States Air Force.”

3. Maj. Matthew White, Lifecycle Management Center’s Armament Directorate at Eglin AFB, Florida. The essay topic was “Effects of AI-Enhanced Decision-Making on Air Force Doctrine.”

The LeMay Center partnered with the Air University Innovation Accelerator (AUiX) office on the contest. AUiX provided a great deal of collaborative support, to include a financial award for the winner. The first-place prize is the purchasing of the essay from the author for $1,000. The top three writers will also be coined by Major Gen. Parker Wright, Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education commander, and Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base Ala. Deputy Commander.

To read the top three essays, visit the Inspiring Doctrinal Innovation essay contest website at