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CAF Essay Competition

Essay Competition Administration

The Air Power Development Centre administers the Chief of Air Force Essay Competition (CAFEC) on behalf of the Chief of Air Force (CAF).

Entrant Eligibility

Entrants must not hold an academic qualification higher than Master's degree level nor should they have published anything more substantial than a paper (i.e. not a monograph or a book). Essays may have been submitted for other purposes (courses, etc) but should not have been previously published. Entrants must be an Australian citizen or a recognised foreign military exchange member serving with the ADF.

Word limit

CAFEC submissions should be between 3000 and 5000 words, not including notes and bibliography. Essays exceeding the word limit may be excluded during the shortlisting process.

Closing Date

The closing date for entries will be 31 January 2020

Selection process

Essays will be shortlisted, and placed in a recommended order by an assessment panel selected by Director APDC. The winning essay will be selected by CAF from a prioritised short list of three. CAF may elect not to award a prize if there is insufficient competition (quantity and/or quality) for a given year. Likewise, CAF reserves the right to recognise in an appropriate manner essays of a high standard that did not win the overall prize.


A prize pool of AUD$2000 is allocated for this competition, CAF reserves the right to award this all to first place or divide it appropriately over two essays depending on the quality of entries. A back seat flight in a fast jet will be awarded to the best essay as judged by the panel and selected by CAF. (Please note that the winner may be required to fund and arrange their own transport to the airport hosting the fast jet flight.) Due to security reasons, only Australian Defence Force personnel are eligible for the fast jet flight as part of their prize. Security and medical clearance processes are required to undertaking the flight. If the winner is not an ADF member, their prize will be the monetary component only.

The CAFEC winner will be announced at the 2020 RAAF Air Power Conference on 24 March 2020.

Essays of High Standard

The CAFEC plays an important role in promoting the development of critical analysis and the ability to present a well-researched and coherent argument in the form of an essay. As a result, Air Force members who submit an essay of high standard, as determined by the CAFEC assessment panel, will receive one or more of the following benefits:

  • The member’s commanding officer will be advised, for inclusion in a PPR.
  • DP-AF will be advised, with a comment to be added to the member’s file.
  • A congratulatory letter from CAF, which will be added to the member’s DP-AF file.

Financial Considerations

Defence employees should note that they may incur a tax liability if they receive a prize through the CAFEC. It is the individual responsibility of entrants to discuss this matter with a financial or tax advisor taking into account their specific circumstances and the potential financial and/or tax implications of winning a CAFEC Prize.

Submission copies

The APDC will not return submissions to the authors.


The entrant's name should not appear on the essay so as to ensure that the academic process is completely neutral. A pseudonym, on the title page of the essay, is to be used. The author's correct name is to be included on the declaration form. If published, the essay will appear under the author's name, not the pseudonym.


All submissions must include a declaration certifying that the essay is original and meets the submission requirements for the respective category and that the author agrees to the CAFEC terms and conditions.

Submission or conformity requirements

Essays must be original works. Essays must be written in English and based solely on the competition topic. Only one essay per person may be submitted.
Topics for the 2019 CAFEC must, in the first instance, be drawn from the Air Force Master Studies List 3rd Edition. Submissions with topics not from the Air Force Master Studies List will only be accepted provided the topic has been approved by the Air Power Development Centre.
Essays are to be submitted in electronic format (not hand written):

  • Times New Roman, font size 12
  • 1.5 line spacing
  • International size A4 (297mm x 210mm) paper.
  • The “documentary-note system” is to be use for referencing (see the Australian Government Style manual, p.208-211)
No classified material is to be used in the essays.
Essays are to be in PC compatible Word format submitted via email to
Entries are expected to follow standard academic essay conventions. The selection panel will consider:
  • essay structure - the effectiveness of the introduction and conclusion and logical flow;
  • strength of argument - supported by relevant evidence and examples;
  • coverage of chosen topic – depth of analysis;
  • essay presentation - spelling, punctuation and grammar;
  • Demonstration of an understanding of the RAAF and the use of Air Power;
  • Realistic, feasible and considered argument – consideration given to current Air Force plans and structure; and
  • Essay footnotes and bibliography must give full acknowledgement to source material, using accepted layout and referencing systems that cite the author, date and page of the book, article or other text from which the material is derived.

Detection of plagiarism will result in immediate disqualification. Plagiarism is considered any direct use made of another author's work that does not acknowledge or attribute the source of such material.
The APDC will accept all essay submissions in good faith. Any entries found not to meet the good faith expectations of APDC (among other things, plagiarism or incorrect attribution; inappropriate author relationship to APDC, collaboration) will be considered invalid and the authors will forfeit any prizes and/or expenses awarded, if applicable. Further, authors could be ineligible for future competitions. The APDC will not be held liable for the misrepresentations of any entrants.

Lost entries

The APDC will not be held responsible for any essays lost or not received by the CAFEC deadline.


Air Power Development Centre  
Address: F3-GF, Department of Defence, PO Box 7932 CANBERRA BC ACT 2610  E-mail: