10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), in cooperation with the Modern War Institute and Project 6633, is pleased to announce an essay contest to generate new ideas and expand the community of interest for special operations in the polar regions.

Defending American strategic interests may require special operations in the polar regions. Whether in competition, crisis, or conflict, the polar regions’ extreme weather, natural resources, and diplomatic divisions present challenges to any operations. If special operations are to succeed in the polar regions, polar state actors must develop the appropriate mixture of force posture, equipping, and readiness. Polar nations will improve their competitiveness in these regions by drawing on history, experimentation, and exercises.


Essays must answer the following prompt: How can American special operations forces compete with near-peer adversaries in the polar regions?

This topic is broad. We encourage authors to clearly articulate a specific idea or concept in their response.


  • Essays will be accepted from any person from any field, and submissions from non-US participants are welcomed.
  • Up to two people may co-author an essay entry.
  • Participants may submit only one entry to the competition.
  • Essays must be original, unpublished, and not subject to publication elsewhere.

Submission Guidelines

  • Essays will not exceed 1,000 words.
  • Use the standard submission guidelines for the Modern War Institute.
  • Email your entry to USASOC.10.SFG.Polarsofcontest.SHDMBX@socom.mil with “Polar SOF Contest” in the subject line. Once submitted, no edits, corrections, or changes are allowed.
  • Submission deadline: essays will be accepted until 11:59 PM EDT on May 2, 2021.

Selection Process

Submissions will be reviewed and evaluated by a team from the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), the Modern War Institute, and Project 6633. Submissions will be assessed based on how well and creatively they address the topic of the contest and provoke further thought and conversation, as well as their suitability for publication by the Modern War Institute (e.g., style, sources, accessibility, etc.). See evaluation questions below:

  • Does the essay clearly define a problem and present a solution?
  • Does the essay show thoughtful analysis?
  • Does the essay inject new provocative thinking or address areas where there needs to be more discussion?
  • Does the essay demonstrate a unique approach or improve current initiatives?
  • Does the essay take lessons from history and apply them to today’s challenges?
  • Does the essay propose a project or concept that could realistically be applied by the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) or Army Special Operations?
  • Does the essay demonstrate knowledge of relevant existing writing on polar operations and challenges?
  • Is the essay logically organized, well written, and persuasive?

The commander of 10th Special Forces Group and Project 6633 co-directors will make the final judgement for the contest.

Winning Submissions

The top three essays will be announced publicly, and will be published by the Modern War Institute.

Depending on the evaluation of the Modern War Institute editorial team, revisions may be required before publication.

Image credit: US SOCEUR