Major Christopher Hitchins wins the 2018 Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize

10 January 2019 / Categories: DA News and Events, JSCSC

Defence Academy’s Intermediate Command and Staff Course (ICSC) Directing Staff, Major Christopher Hitchins has won the 2018 Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize, the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) annual competition, which is awarded for original writing on contemporary issues of national and international defence and security. 

Major Hitchins’ essay titled “There Are No Five-Year Plans in the Ant Kingdom”: Can Biology Give Us the Information Edge That Physics Cannot? explores the idea that in the complex digital revolution era, traditional command and control hierarchies and mechanisms are no longer agile enough to deliver success in the Informational Environment.  Instead, we should look to nature and trust that, as with ants, the human immune system or microbes, individual low-level agents following a very simple set of rules, can produce rapid solutions to complex problems with creativity and at scale.   

He was presented with the prize by General Sir Nicholas Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen, Chief of the Defence Staff and The Rt Hon the Lord Hague of Richmond. 

Major Hitchins said: 

“I am really honoured and grateful to be formally recognised by such an esteemed organisation as the Royal United Services Institute.  I am especially proud to have brought the Trench Gascoigne Prize back into military hands after a number of years of civilian academic winners.  It would be great to build some momentum and keep it in the military fold next year too.” 

Congratulating Major Hitchins on his achievement, Chief Executive Defence Academy and Commandant Joint Services Command and Staff College, Chris Luck said:

“To have your essay win the overall competition is a fantastic achievement that makes your reputation, and contributes to the reputation of the Defence Academy as a place of intellectual debate and broader contribution. Your research and analysis is within an area we must continue to study.”

Joining Major Hitchins in his success was Major Dobson, whose essay was short listed. 

Dating back to 1874, the Trench Gascoigne Essay Prize reflects and reinforces the Institute's status as a uniquely placed platform for free thinking debate on defence and security. Awards are made on the basis of originality, logical argument, sound analysis, style, clarity and conciseness. 

The judges this year were:

  • Lieutenant General Sir David Capewell KCB OBE, Distinguished Fellow, RUSI, and former Chief of Joint Operations, Ministry of Defence
  • Professor Beatrice Heuser, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI, and Professor of International Relations (Politics) University of Glasgow
  • Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye OBE, former Director General, Royal Air Force Museum
  • Simon Fovargue, Vice President Defence & Chief Executive Officer Atlas Consortium, DXC Technology.

Details of the 2019 Trench Gascoigne Prize Essay Competition will be announced in June 2019.


Photo: Major Hitchins receiving his award from General Sir Nicholas Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen.