28 September 2016

Contest Solicits 'Lessons-Encountered' Essays

Editors at Small Wars Journal have teamed up with Military Writers Guild to conduct an essay-writing contest focused on lessons-encountered at the tactical and operational levels of war.

Word count is 3,000 to 5,000. Deadline is Jan. 15, 2017. Winners will be announced in March 2017.

According to the announcement, the project takes inspiration from the publication of "Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War," a National Defense University project that explored similar theme at the strategic level.

That book, available for FREE in e-book reader formats here, was "intended for future senior officers, their advisors, and other national security decision-makers. By derivation, it is also a book for students in joint professional military education courses, which will qualify them to work in the field of strategy."

In the announced contest, Small Wars Journal editors are soliciting takes on what worked and what did not work in modern wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They suggest two lists of maxims as a potential launching points, the first from former commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Anthony Zinni, and the second from civilian strategist David Kilcullen. Both lists appear here.

Writers are encouraged to use incorporate one or many of these maxims into their submitted works, and also to base their writing in first-hand experiences, told in the first person.

Functional areas and applicable topics suggested by the editors include, but are not limited to:
  • Insurgency/Counterinsurgency
  • Terrorism/Counterterrorism
  • Stabilization, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Operations
  • Unconventional Warfare
  • Foreign Internal Defense
  • Civil-Military Operations
  • Information Operations
  • Military Intelligence and Counterintelligence Activities
  • Transnational Criminal Activities that Support or Sustain Small Wars / Irregular Warfare
  • Law Enforcement Activities Focused on Countering Irregular Adversaries
  • Writers may enter in three categories, including: U.S. Military, Non-U.S. Military, and Non-Military (U.S. and Other). First ($1,000), Second ($500), and Third Prizes ($300) may be awarded in each category, in addition to up to 20 honorable mentions ($200).

    Full details, including submissions formats and process, are to be found here.

    21 September 2016

    Deadline for 6th Veterans-Lit Anthology is June 1, 2017!

    Deadline for submissions to a sixth volume titled "Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors"—an anthology of military-themed fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, oral histories, and photography—is June 1, 2017. The project is open to all military personnel, veterans, and family members.

    According to the call for submissions, entrants can submit to a contest in which each category carries a first-prize of $250, or submit to the anthology alone. All entries will be considered for the anthology. There is no entry fee to the contest or publication.

    Through the efforts of the Warriors Arts Alliance, the Missouri Humanities Council, and Southeast Missouri State University Press, the first "Proud to Be" volume was published in November 2012.

    "[T]his series of anthologies preserves and shares the perspectives of our military and veterans of all conflicts and of their families," reads the Southeast Missouri State University Press contest page. "It is not only an outlet for artistic expression but also a document of the unique aspects of wartime in our nation’s history."

    With second, third, and fourth issues, the press established itself as a leading venue for "veterans-lit," consistent in both quality and quantity. In 2014, the press also published "The Shape of our Faces No Longer Matters," a poetry collection by U.S. Marine veteran Gerardo "Tony" Mena.

    Red Bull Rising blog reviews of past issues of the "Proud to Be" anthology appear here and here.

    For a 2012 Red Bull Rising interview with series editor Susan Swartout, click here.

    To submit only to the 2017 anthology, mail previously unpublished work with self-addressed, stamped envelope (S.A.S.E.) for notification to:
    Warriors Anthology
    Southeast Missouri State University Press, MS 2650
    Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701
    To submit to both contest and anthology, e-mail previously unpublished work to: upress@semo.edu. Also note:
    • Entries must be sent electronically as Microsoft Word files (.doc or .docx).
    • Keep poems in one document (with 1st poem as title).
    • Put your name and contact info on first page and nowhere else on the manuscript.
    For all submissions, whether mailed or electronic:
    • Limit one submission in each category per person.
    • Poetry: up to 3 poems (5 pages maximum).
    • Fiction, essay, or interview: 5,000-word limit.
    • Photography: up to 3 good-quality photos (will be printed in the book as black and white).
    • Submissions exceeding the limits will be disqualified.
    • Include a biography of 75 words or less with each submission. Explicitly mention author's connection to military.
    • Winners and contributors will be notified by Nov. 1, 2017.

    14 September 2016

    Charlie Sherpa ... LIVE! (Portions recorded)

    Together with British mil-poet and memoirist Barry Alexander ("On Afghanistan's Plains"), I recently participated in an audio conversation regarding how we remember and write about war, hosted by the Military Writers Guild's Adin Dobkin. You can find "The Pen and the Sword" podcast here at this link, or on iTunes.

    Brew up a cuppa—either tea or coffee will do—and have a listen!

    The discussion was far-flung and wide-ranging, as you might expect. You can practically hear the mental tank gears stripping in the background, as we try to keep up with ourselves. One bonus takeaway: 1970s military service-themed sitcoms, such as "Dad's Army" and "Hogan's Heroes," might be credited (blamed?) for our respective military careers.

    This may be the first recorded historical instance of Sherpatude No. 26: "Humor is a combat multiplier …"

    Alexander has a thoughtful reflection on the podcast conversation at his own blog, posted here. You should also read his book. Here's why.

    A couple of other audio and video recommendations:

    Dobkin and his pseudonymous colleague, Angry Staff Officer, have been experimenting with a narrative-style podcast called "War Stories," which can also be found in the Military Writers Guild podcast feed. In their inaugural season, they're exploring the evolution of cavalry. It's filled with music, sound effects, and insightful storytelling. Make sure to check it out!

    Also, earlier this summer, I was honored to engage in a video conversation with fellow war-writer Katey Schultz ("Flashes of War"). Check out our discussion here. You should also read her book, and—particularly if you're an aspiring or working writer—check out her on-line courses in flash fiction and non-fiction, and literary stewardship!

    Like the Red Bull says, "Attack! Attack! Attack!"

    07 September 2016

    Funny Veterans Video Launches: 'Soldiers Period'

    A short Internet video featuring the opinions and experiences of women U.S. military veterans pulls no punches—period—particularly when it comes to a May 2015 RAND Corp. report, titled "Considerations for Integrating Women into Closed Occupations in the U.S. Special Operations."

    The Not Suitable For Work (Unless You Work with Veterans) result is a hilarious mash-up of soldierly sensibilities—sort of like a Ranger Up! movie meets "The Vagina Monologues."

    The video opens with an animated proposal to weaponize Premenstrual Syndrome (P.M.S.) by deploying platoons of hormonally synchronized soldiers. "Once synchronization has occurred, at the peak of PMS," the narration states, "these women warriors will be deployed as the fiercest fighting force in military history."

    Later, four women veterans give voice to a collection of social media comments, delivering a blistering barrage of sarcasm and spit-takes. One of my favorites? The eminently quotable, "Watch out ISIS, here comes my vagina!"

    The video released earlier today, Wed., Sept. 7, 2016. You can watch it FREE on Vimeo here:
    http://vimeo.com/180313801. More background on the project is here.

    The veteran cast includes those from the Cold War and Operation Desert Storm, through to Operation Iraqi Freedom. A press release from the video's directors reads, in part:
    From athletes at the Olympics to these women warriors, women are going public about menstruation. The rawness of the women's responses reveals the misogynist nonsense they confronted while serving. Their responses were not scripted.
    The short was directed by Patricia Lee Stotter and Marcia Rock, the film-making team that delivered the 2011 full-length documentary "Service: When Women Come Marching Home." That work eventually aired on more than 87 percent of PBS stations nationwide, and via the World channel. A bipartisan group of four women senators even hosted a screening of "Service" on Capitol Hill!

    I wonder if anyone will have the ovaries to do the same with "Soldiers Period"?