Negotiation Project cadets at West Point making an impact
October 7, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. - "Checkpoints established by company commanders, your former classmates," Lt. Col. John Hagen said as he looked at the cadets, "to enforce a cease fire between Kurds and Arabs in Northern Iraq, have now set the precedent for the location of the southern border of Kurdistan. The decisions you make have huge impacts."
Seven cadet research fellows and senior members from the West Point Negotiation Project presented and participated in the Air Force Culture and Language Center's Conflict Management Symposium, hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. They left with a better understanding of how to manage conflict and a greater appreciation for how the decisions they will make as platoon leaders have significant, strategic consequences.
The cadets presented a variety of topics related to how negotiation can be used for managing conflicts, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Class of 2013 Cadets Duncan Aylor, Emily McCarthy and Wayne Pak focused on negotiating in crisis situations, based off of their experiences last summer with the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT Crisis Negotiation Team and the FBI's Crisis Negotiation Unit.
"It was a great opportunity to share what we had just learned about crisis negotiation since emotions play a central role in nearly all negotiations but are not often discussed," Pak, who recently completed the LAPD SWAT Crisis Negotiation course, said.
Class of 2011 Cadet Tim Dwyer and Class of 2012 Cadet Dan White presented on the final simulation exercise for the MG390 "Negotiation for Leaders" course as an assessment tool for measuring the effectiveness of negotiation teaching.
Class of 2011 Cadet Joe Gallo and Cadet Luke Hutchison, Class of 2013, presented on how managing perceptions led to the peaceful resolutions of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland and how the U.S. Army might consider similar measures in Afghanistan to bring about a durable peace.
"Talking with anyone, anywhere, at anytime was one of the principle strategies practiced by the police of Northern Ireland, which contributed to the ending of The Troubles," Gallo said about a lesson he learned conducting research and interviews this summer in Northern Ireland.
"There was such a wide range of perspectives at the conference, military and civilian, who had experience negotiating and mediating all over the world in different scenarios," Gallo said.
The West Point Negotiation Project's purpose is to enhance the ability of U.S. Army small unit leaders to conduct effective negotiations in the complex and challenging situations they face in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The WPNP conducts outreach to the Army, researches current negotiation practices, publishes articles and negotiation tools, and hosts an annual conference.
"I was unaware of the great difficulty we have had with internal negotiations, especially between military and civilian organizations," Aylor said.
In addition to the Cadet Research Fellows and Senior Members program, the WPNP also hosts monthly "brown bag" lunches where guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds discuss their negotiation experiences.