NEWPORT, R.I. - Naval War College Joint Military Operations faculty member Navy Cmdr. David Houff won the National Intelligence Essay Contest, for his research paper that linked principles of submarine hunting to fighting insurgents.
“I just thought that it was a hot-button topic and timely issue, and that the analogy between submarines and insurgents as enemies, was of value,” Houff said.
The contest was sponsored jointly by the Naval Intelligence Foundation, the Naval Intelligence Professionals (NIP) and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA).
Houff's paper titled, “Teaching an Old Trick to a New Dog: Adapting an Anti-Submarine Warfare Intelligence Mentality to Irregular Warfare,” received the honor in a competition open nationwide to any military or civilian author. And because of this large pool of authors, he was unsure of his likelihood of success.
“It was one of those competitions where you didn’t know who was entering it,” he said. The article will be published in SIGNAL magazine.
“I owe a lot of the success of the paper to the excellence of the faculty and the War College as a whole,” Houff said, explaining that several faculty members and other officials read drafts of his paper, including some at NWC’s Monterey program. “The blessing for me is that being at the college, I had quite a few colleagues who could read the paper,” he said.
He said submarines and insurgents work in similar ways; submarines hide and wait, then attack and return to a hiding spot, and insurgents function similarly. Surface ships, on the other hand, are easily visible. Despite a complicated topic, Houff had little difficulty staying within a 2,000 word length requirement, or about eight pages double-spaced, while many academic papers can easily run twice that.
“I found the length requirement to be a good thing, because it forced me to focus my thoughts,” he said.
Houff has thought about the similarities between submarines and insurgents before. The interest sparked from an article by a professor at NWC Monterrey, which compared insurgents to World War II submarines, when proper technology to track them was needed.
Houff realized that intelligence support to combat contemporary insurgents was needed in the same way that anti-submarine technology was needed in World War II. He had been developing the idea for about a year and a half, and it fits in well with the JMO department’s curricular topic of irregular warfare.
Houff will take a trip to San Diego in early February to receive the award. “It’s one less day I have to scrape my windshield.” he quipped.
by Tyler Will, Naval War College Public Affairs