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Research at the air war college

Students at the Air War College write professional studies research papers over the course of 10 months’ residence. These papers address questions raised by strategic leaders in across all military services and many government agencies. Students typically have an authentic audience for their work, a 2-star or 3-star General who wants answers to questions directly connected to their functional or combatant command. Some services also publish lists of areas for research that are related to national security. The War Colleges—Army, Navy, and Air—as well as other JPMEII schools, share these lists with all students to help guide research.

At the Air War College, we also have multiple research task forces which study questions and develop research answers for specific leaders. Our research task forces, housed at the Air War College* and at Air Command and Staff College, include the following:

  • Innovators by Design task Force
  • Airpower Vistas: The Airpower Research Task Force*
  • ACTS 2.0 Task Force
  • Vigilance Horizons: Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Task Force
  • Virtual & Augmented Reality Task Force
  • Surgeon General's Task Force*
  • Space Horizons Task Force

Other two-term research task forces include the Cyber Studies and Deterrence Studies Task Forces.

AWC Research Awards

The Air War College, in conjunction with noted partners (list below), award students who have done outstanding research over the course of the academic year. Students must be nominated by faculty for an award. Then a panel of faculty assemble to read every nominated paper and rank them to determine a winner in each category. Faculty from every department are involved in the process.


Award Description/Sponsor Winner
AF Cyber Award Outstanding paper on the development of thinking within the cyberspace domain. Spaatz Academic Centers Lt Col Rebecca S. Lange, USAF
AF Historical Foundation Award

Best paper on airpower research, advocacy, legacy, and history. AWC Faculty

Col Gilbert Cardona, USA
AWC Intelligence Community Best research paper identifying and proposing novel solutions to a critical problem facing the United States intelligence community, including the field of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. AU ISR Community Col Joshua D. Rosen, USAF
AWC Research Excellence Award Presented to the paper that displays the highest levels of analysis, creativity, and/or scholarship. Air University Foundation Terry Mobley, US Department of State
Center for Writing Excellence Award This award is given to the Professional Studies Paper that exhibits the highest level of writing and research in any discipline at the AWC. Center for Writing Excellence Kenny Pruitt, DAF
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategic Research  Essay

The purpose of this competition is to stimulate thinking about national defense and military strategy, promote well-written research, and contribute to a broader security debate among professionals. AWC nominated, CJCS

Lt Col Jennifer H. Garrison, USAF

Lt Col John D. Galloway, Jr., USAF
CJCS Strategy Article

This category is similar in length to many current JPME course papers. It should be a scholarly but tightly focused research paper. AWC nominated, CJCS

Not Awarded

Commandant’s Award Recognizes the top overall research product from all award categories produced by Air War College. Air University Foundation Terry Mobley, US Department of State
Culture and Language Center Award

Recognizes the best AWC Professional Studies Paper that critically analyzes and offers strategic level insights into the significance or impact of culture on any aspect of Airmen’s work (such as strategic thinking, planning, doctrine development, analysis, operations, diplomacy, advising, partnership building and/or other related issues. CLC

Lt Col Michele A. LoBianco. USAF
Douhet-Mitchell International Airpower Trophy PPO Paper that best demonstrates extraordinary foresight or vision into future military air, space, and cyberspace requirements. Order of Sons of Italy Association Lt Col Jose R. Gutierrez del Arroyo, USAF
Excellence in Space Research The Excellence in Space Research Award sponsored by the Commander Air Force Space Command.  This award recognizes the student who has provided the best research on a space power topic. Research papers will be forwarded to the Commander, Air Force Space Command for consideration in future Space domain development. AU Space Chair and AWC Faculty WGCDR Leigh M. Foster, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Gen. Charles A. Horner PPO Presented to the individual who has researched, written, and published the most original contribution to the understanding of Air Force counter-WMD or nuclear enterprise issues during the year. Dr. Lyndon “Kyle” McKown, DAF
Gen. Charles G. Boyd Best paper in the areas of regional and cultural issues or regional and international security analysis. Air University Foundation Terry Mobley, US Department of State
Gen. Larry B. Welch Deterrence Writing The Commander, United States Strategic Command is sponsoring a competition for the best research papers on the subject of strategic deterrence. AWC nomination, USSTRATCOM Lt Col Jordan E. Murphy, USAFR
Gen. P.X. Kelly USMC Writing Best Professional Studies Paper by a USMC student at the AWC. Lt Col Christopher A. Browning, USMC
Global Reach Award Best paper on global mobility, to include development, employment, and sustainment of mobility forces.  Airlift/Tanker Association

Not Awarded

Joint Airpower Outstanding paper on the joint use of airpower in support of national military objectives. AUF/Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association

Col Brendan Cook, Royal Canadian Air Force

and Gerald Flaugher, DAF
Lt. Gen. John Nowak Award for Logistics Best research paper addressing support or logistics issues relevant to DOD readiness and combat capability. Lt Col Jennifer L. Varga, USAF
Lt. Gen. “Pete” Quesada Army Writing Best Professional Studies Paper by and Army student at the AWC. Col Ross Nelson, USA
Maj. Gen. Edward G. Lansdale International Affairs PPO

Outstanding research and thought concerning regional/cultural issues pertinent to foreign area officers. Foreign Area Officer Association

Lt Col Jonathan Burdick, USAF
Maj. Gen. Floyd L. Carpenter PPO Outstanding research in the field of strategic deterrence and future bomber operations. 8th AF Lt Col Seth Spanier. USAF
Military Operations Outstanding Research Outstanding paper addressing strategic considerations for irregular war and counter- insurgency operations. Air University Foundation/Northrop Grumman Lt Col Sarah E. Kinzer, USAFR
Reserve Component PPO Best research providing a greater understanding of the Reserve Component’s role in national security. Reserve Officers Association

Col Thaddeus D. Fineran, ARNG

Secretary of Defense Security Essay Competition The purpose of this competition is to stimulate thinking about national security strategy, promote well-written research, and contribute to a broader security debate among professionals. AWC nominated, SECDEF

Lt Col W. Lance Blanco, ARNG in GSS

Lt Col Jonathan Burdick, USAF

Terry Mobley, US Department of State

Capt Richard Wheeler III, USNR
Senior Leadership Innovation Award PPO Most original paper on senior leader development or which aids the understanding of senior leader issues of interest. Military Officers Association of America Lt Col Derek C. Oakley, USAF
Surgeon General Award Awarded to the paper than most significantly contributes to the Air Force Medical Service and its support of national military objectives. Lt Col Jennifer H. Garrison, USAF
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