Eyes on the Pacific

The Marine Corps Gazette named LtCol Maria McMillen as the 2012 first place winner of the annual Chase Prize Essay Contest. The winner of the Chase award is chosen by a 14-member Editorial Board consisting of active duty, retired, enlisted and officer...

The Marine Corps Gazette named LtCol Maria McMillen as the 2012 first place winner of the annual Chase Prize Essay Contest.

The winner of the Chase award is chosen by a 14-member Editorial Board consisting of active duty, retired, enlisted and officer Marines. The Boldness and Daring Awards contest highlights Marine writers of all ranks who submit an article with opinions against the status-quo and solutions that offer out-of-the-box thinking.

The award is named after late MajGen Harold W. Chase who believed the Marine Corps needed a healthy dose of discussion among all ranks of how to continually improve and strengthen the Corps. The monetary prizes are funded by the Battelle Corporation with support from the Chase family.

McMillen’s prize-winning article entitled “Seizing the Opportunity to Change” rallies Marines to see the budget cuts as an opportunity to streamline the Corps into a more efficient fighting force. Published in the November issue of the Gazette, the article describes how to optimize that force in the newly focused area of the Pacific.

“We all know we’re coming into a fiscally constrained environment and we just need to exercise our minds to come up with the best solution and sometimes the best solution isn’t the most expensive solution,” McMillen said.

McMillen is currently stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico as the deputy director of the School of Advanced Warfighting with the Marine Corps University. She spent the past three years as the inspector general of 3d Marine Logistics Group in Okinawa and was responsible for managing the supply and maintenance of the group.

“It gave me the opportunity to look at strategic answers, or at least an operational answer, for some of the diverse problem sets that exist out there,” McMillen said.

In the article, McMillen suggests the best way to operate in the Pacific would be to provide specialized and multi-functional Marine Expeditionary Brigades (MEBs) to specific regions based upon geography and the mission. She also highlights detailed initiatives of how to operate in Guam, Korea, Okinawa, Australia and Hawaii.

“Each place is different and they cover different areas,” McMillen said. “It’s not as simple as an ideal construct.”

Gazette editor Col John Keenan, USMC (Ret) said McMillen’s opinions of Pacific operations earned her the Chase award because it’s topical and challenges current operations.

 “McMillen’s recommendation is clearly not one the Corps has done or is planning to do but should be considered,” Keenan said.  

McMillen accepted the first place Chase award, which included an engraved plaque and a $3,000 cash prize, at the Marine Corps University Oct. 15. She said she was honored to be the recipient of one of the Boldness and Daring Awards.

“I value the Marine Corps Gazette because they encourage and accept dissenting views and I think that’s what makes us a little better,” McMillen said. “This award encourages that to a greater degree. How can we change things and improve things? I think it encourages discussion and thought, which will ultimately help us evolve and remain relevant.”

For more information about the essay award or how to enter the contest click HERE.

 
Brigadier General William Mullen, the President of Marine Corps University, and Susan Guillory and Mike Mulligan from Battelle Memorial Institute present LtCol Maria McMillen a check and a plaque for her first place entry in the Chase Boldness and Daring Essay Contest. The contest is sponsored by the Marine Corps Gazette and underwritten by the generosity of the Chase family and Battelle.