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Clayton J. Thomas Award

The purpose of this award is:

  • To set up a tribute to Clayton J. Thomas, a respected colleague who has given and continues to give so much of enduring value to the military operations research community as to merit continuing, dignified recognition.

  • To give evidence of the belief of the Military Operations Research Society that operations research represents a symbiosis of people and systems, applying the scientific method to build quantitative models, manipulate data and evaluate results.

  • To emphasize that progress in military operations research includes continuous improvement to a kit of analytic tools. We, therefore, seek to identify and recognize members of our profession who have excelled in individual achievement and have expanded the application of military operations research techniques and improved its set of analytical tools.

  • To give consideration to the development of the analytical underpinnings of military operations research. We hope that this award will inspire members of the military operations research community to continue technical, in-depth participation in the advancement of the profession by emphasizing the analytical foundations of the profession.

The criteria for eligibility are:

  • Distinguished service over time to the profession of military operations research.

  • Enhancement of the image and substance of military operations research as a unique scientific discipline and as a means for providing technically sound alternatives to defense decision makers.

  • Sustained, outstanding performance as a practitioner in military operations research, resulting in important improvements to our tools and to the application of our analytical capabilities.

  • Extension of individual knowledge and talents to others in the profession of military operations research leading to improvement of our analytic capabilities.

  • Current Sponsors and Board Members are not eligible for the Thomas Award.

Nominate a deserving individual today.
Click here to download the nomination form.



2013 - Dr. Mark A. Gallagher
Dr. Mark A. Gallagher is a distinguished contributor to military operations research and to MORS for nearly thirty years. Based on a record of excellence in mentoring analysts and pioneering applied operations research in areas ranging from cost and resources, to damage expectancy, to nuclear deterrence, to cyberspace and much more, he was selected to fill the Clayton J. Thomas position in Air Force Studies and Analysis. He has emulated his predecessor as a tireless advocate for analyst mentoring and development, and the advancement of MORS innovation in the use of virtual meetings. Dr. Gallagher is a consummate professional with sterling intellect whose sustained accomplishments in work of the highest caliber and practical utility are characteristic of our most talented professionals and has brought great credit to the operations research community.

2012 - Dr. William Forrest Crain
Dr. William Forrest Crain has distinguished himself over a long career as a military operations research analyst through his impact on senior leaders and studies, mentorship of his junior analysts and bringing operations research tools and techniques to the Warfighter. He has been a leader of organizations and an innovator of techniques for the past 30 years because of his dedication to his profession. He has brought great credit to the military operations research community and the Nation because of his talents and efforts. 

2011 - Dr. Robert S. Sheldon, FS
Dr. Robert Sheldon has been a consistent contributor to the field of Military Operations Research for almost forty years. Sponsored by the US Air Force, Bob received his BS in ME and his Masters in IE, both from the University of Minnesota. The Air Force sent him to Cornell for his Ph D, which he completed in 1986. Bob worked in uniform at AFSAA, and was actually mentored by Clayton Thomas, FS, for whom this award is named. Among the lessons imparted to young Bob was an imperative to serve the OR community through MORS. Bob has chaired numerous Working Groups and Synthesis Groups; he has been a MORS Journal associate editor as well as MORS President in 1999, and he remains a very active Fellow of the Society. Bob actually penned the MORS oral history for Clayton Thomas, as well as 45 other oral histories of our profession’s greatest contributors. In 2004, Bob began his service in support of the United States Marine Corps. He has worked on studies involving the STOVL JSF, agent-based models, and he is now a key member of the Joint Irregular Warfare Analytical Baseline team. Bob’s contributions have always been rich in intellectual investment, sound in method, innovative, and always under-stated.

2010 – Dr. Gerald G. Brown

Dr. Gerald G. Brown has long distinguished himself through outstanding contributions for nearly 40 years to the field of national security operations research.  Dr. Brown’s optimization research has had unsurpassed impact in the solution of defense-related problems.  His research provides software to plan Tomahawk missile strikes for the Navy; his airlift planning has saved lives; his capital-planning models have influenced procurements, by all our armed services, involving billions of dollars; and his work on attacker-defender models is changing how the Department of Homeland Security thinks about defense against terrorists.  Dr. Brown has published more than seventy scholarly papers in top academic journals.  His professionalism and excellence has earned him many honors and awards for service and scholarship, including his election in 2008 to the National Academy of Engineering “for contributions to large-scale optimization theory and its military and industrial applications”. Dr. Brown has served his profession, colleagues and country selflessly. 

2009 – Richard F. Deckro

Dr. Richard F. Deckro has long distinguished himself through outstanding performance while assigned as Professor of Operations Research, Department of Operational Sciences, Graduate School of Engineering and Management, Air Force Institute of Technology, and Editor, Military Operations Research.  Dr. Deckro spearheaded a number of high-level, high-visibility research initiatives that significantly enhanced the application of aerospace and cyberspace power and their effect on joint warfighting capabilities.  His dramatic breakthroughs have changed joint and Air Force doctrine and operational practices, and were instrumental in the execution of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.  As Editor of Military Operations Research, he has bolstered the rigor of the flagship journal of the Military Operations Research Society and enhanced the image of the Operations Research discipline. As an educator, he has been a role model and mentor to a significant number of current Air Force analysts, and his influence on the Air Force’s analytical capabilities has been enormous.

2008 - Richard E. Rosenthal

Distinguished Professor Richard E. Rosenthal of the Naval Postgraduate School was ubiquitous in the breadth and depth of his lifelong contributions to Military Operations Research, and to the broader field of operations research and management science. Highly respected for his understanding of optimization theory, he was equally proficient and prolific in practical military applications. His contributions to many societies, both national and international, have won him friends here and around the world. In MORS he served on the Board of Directors, received both the Rist and Barchi prizes, and was a vigorous and creative contributor on the Education Committee. Professor Rosenthal was devoted to excellence in writing and the dissemination of knowledge through quality publication. Among his contributions, he was editor-in-chief of Naval Research Logistics from 1988 to 2003. He was one of three eminent guest editors of its 1995 three-issue sequence on Air-Land-Naval Warfare Models, which were consolidated and republished by MORS as Warfare Modeling. His scholarship was respected for objectivity, thoroughness, and originality. He won the INFORMS Prize for superior teaching and twice received the school-wide superior teaching award at NPS. His organizational and management skills were recognized by the NPS faculty when they selected him as department chair. Professor Rosenthal is the consummate professional for operations research practitioners to follow and a model of devotion for us all to emulate.

2007 - Jerome J. Bracken

The Military Operations Research Society is pleased to award the Clayton J. Thomas Award for 2007 to Dr. Jerome Bracken. This award recognizes the enduring value of Dr. Bracken’s contributions to the military operations research community for over 40 years. His achievements have expanded and improved the quality, value, and scope of military operations research that is being applied at the highest levels of defense decision-making. His award winning work spans his rich and distinguished career, and the breadth of military analysis. It includes contributions that range in topic from application of game theory strategic nuclear stability to developing measures of effectiveness for the information-age Army. He is the most published author in the field of military analysis. In recognition of his long and valuable service to the military operations research community and to MORS, the Society bestows this award.

2006 - Stephen J. Balut

During a career that spans over three decades, the last two of which he served as founding Director of the Cost Analysis and Research Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses, Dr. Stephen J. Balut has made continuous and enduring contributions to the technical foundations of military operations research. His organizational and individual achievements have expanded and improved the quality, value, and scope of military operations research applied at the highest levels of defense decision-making. He, and the division that he has led, have been at the forefront of providing increased visibility and understanding of defense costs. The products of his work have been used to evaluate the resource consequences associated with the most important defense policy, planning, programming, and acquisition decisions. He is past president of both the Military Applications Society of INFORMS and the Institute of Cost Analysis (ICA). He has served INFORMS, ORSA, MORS, and ICA in various capacities, including Editor of the “Topics in Operations Research” series of books, Associate Editor of the journal Military Operations Research, and referee for numerous journals. He has published over fifty-five articles on military operations research subjects. In recognition of his long and valuable service to the military operations research community and to MORS, the Society bestows this award.

2005 - Alan R. Washburn

During his 40 years as an analyst, the last 35 of which have been at the Naval Postgraduate School, Professor Alan R. Washburn has contributed seminal references in the theory of search and evasion, firing theory, decision theory with incomplete information, Kalman filters, and other related fields. His work spans electrical engineering, physics, mathematics, and operations research. His signature style is to make deep theoretical results accessible to a wide audience through carefully crafted writing and simple examples. He also has served as Chairman of Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School, as a perennial referee and editor, and has influenced the careers of scores of military analysts. In recognition of his long and valuable service to the military operations research community and to MORS, the Society bestows this award.

2004 - Stuart H. Starr, FS

Consistent with the spirit of the work of Clayton Thomas, Stuart Starr has spent his professional career focusing on the assessment of complex, ill-defined problems. In that quest, he has developed innovative methodologies and tools (e.g., the mission-oriented approach to C2 systems; the Theater Air Command and Control Simulation Facility (TACCSF)/Distributed Mission Operations Center (DMOC)), led assessments that have addressed many of the most challenging problems confronting the OR community (e.g., assessing the impact of C2 on mission effectiveness; identification, friend, foe, or neutral; urban operations; force protection), served the MORS community as a Director, and sought to promulgate his insights to the community through codes of best practice. It is particularly notable that Stuart served on many Synthesis Panels at MORS workshops with Clayton, and that he has continued that tradition through his leadership of many subsequent Synthesis Panels.

2003 - Joseph J. Bolmarcich

Joseph J. Bolmarcich exemplifies the high standards of the Military Operations Research Society. His sustained accomplishments in work of the highest technical caliber and practical utility are characteristic of our most talented professionals and are in keeping with the very essence of the Clayton J Thomas Award.

2002 - Gregory S. Parnell, FS

Dr. Gregory S. Parnell is presented the Clayton Thomas Award in recognition of his distinguished technical contributions and service to the military operations research community. Dr. Parnell’s operations research theory development, decision support tools implementation, and successful applications have directly enhanced the image of military operations research with DoD and Intelligence Community leaders. As editor, he and his associate editors have made the Military Operations Research journal the premiere journal in our field. As an educator, he is responsible for the increasing use of multiple objective decision analysis techniques to support DoD and the Intelligence Community decision makers.

2001 - Edward P. Kerlin

Ed Kerlin has served the defense analysis community for almost 40 years, developing key methodologies and leading critical modeling efforts in support of national security, particularly with respect to force-on-force campaign analyses. His oversight of the development and improvement of the TACWAR model over two decades has strengthened the ability of the Joint Staff, the CINCs, OSD, several allied countries, and others to address in a quantitative fashion critical force structuring issues in support of numerous planning, budgeting, and operational activities. He has been a consistent proponent of the need to examine the impact of weapons of mass destruction on US combat power, and led the research that has developed the tools to do so. As a leader, a manager, and a teacher, he has shepherded the work of innumerable analysts in the production of major studies. He has been active in MORS and other military operations research organizations throughout this lengthy period.

Ed Kerlin is the epitome of the successful military operations researcher. His tools, especially the TACWAR model, have provided unique capabilities and have seen active use for decades. His studies have been models of sound analysis and objectivity. His quiet leadership has furthered the cause of operations research in quantitative defense analysis. He has been a superb mentor and colleague.

2000 - Alfred G. Brandstein

1999 - Robert L. Helmbold

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