West Point team trains SEAL personnel in negotiations
August 31, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 31, 2011) -- The West Point Negotiation Project recently conducted a course on effective negotiation concepts and tools with Navy SEALs as part of the Naval Special Warfare Platoon Leaders Course at Norfolk Naval Station, Va.
The NSW PLC is held twice each year at Norfolk and Coronado, Calif., and course attendees consist primarily of SEAL personnel, but also include special operations support forces and Air Force para-rescue jumpers.
The training, led by Professor Jeff Weiss, Maj. Aram Donigian, Maj. Zachary Mundell, Maj. Neil Hollenbeck and Class of 2013 Cadet Duncan Aylor, was designed to further enhance naval special operations forces effectiveness overseas by helping them to better deal with both internal and external engagements.
In addition to substantial classroom lecturing on effective negotiation strategy, course attendees were challenged to apply the classroom material during hands-on, practical exercises involving different negotiation scenarios. The WPNP faculty provided coaching during these negotiations as well as during the preparation and review stages. The day ended with the SEALs negotiating scenarios involving an Afghan village elder, a CIA team leader and a Battalion S3--all situations that SEAL teams often encounter during a combat deployment.
"I am impressed with the ability of the West Point Negotiation Project to tailor and deliver a negotiation curriculum to our NSW personnel," Brad Voigt, director of Naval Special Warfare Professional Military Education, said. "Their willingness to openly share knowledge and best practices, developed over several years, shows they are truly team players. Their excellent instruction and products will arm our SEAL leaders with the tools they need to successfully build lasting partnerships when deployed."
Wishing to remain anonymous for security reasons, a Naval chief with more than 10 years as a SEAL said, "With the Village Stability Operations we are doing now, this training is just as critical as some of the kinetic skills during our workup. I wish we could have had more than just one day."
Aylor was chosen to assist with this training opportunity because he was the top student in MG390 this past year.
"The opportunity to impact a high caliber and extremely relevant force such as the SEALs demonstrates the commitment and capability of the WPNP to go beyond West Point to have a far reaching impact on the military at large," he said.
Donigian said allowing cadets to work as teaching assistants is always a highlight of these events.
"It puts them on the other side and helps reinforce the material as they have to engage with it differently as instructors," Donigian said. "Cadet Aylor really added value to the day."
Over the past three years, the WPNP has taught similar courses to elements of the 25th Infantry Division, the 4th Infantry Division, the 10th Mountain Division and the 173rd Airborne. This was the first time that the WPNP provided a Mobile Training Team not only to naval forces but also to the special operations community.
"I was impressed with how these special warfare leaders seemed to take to the material even more so than the conventional units we've worked with previously," Donigian said. "They see the clear importance and application to the missions they are pulling in theater, not only with local leaders but with other government agencies and military leaders."
The West Point Negotiation Project, whose purpose is to enhance the ability of military leaders to conduct negotiations in the complex and challenging situations they face both in combat and peace, has grown rapidly since in its founding in 2009.
A yearly conference is attended by cadets and military officers from across North America each spring. WPNP members consult on various projects for the Army, provide training to deploying forces, conduct research on negotiation training and application, and develop leaders of character within the Corps of Cadets through the Fellows and Senior Members program, AIADs and guest lectures.
The SEAL training marked an important transition for the WPNP leadership as Donigian, co-founder, will deploy to Afghanistan, and Mundell will co-direct the WPNP with Weiss for the 2011-12 academic year.
The positive feedback from course attendees has further solidified plans for the WPNP to continue its relationship and training engagements with the SEALs.There are tentative plans to send a team to Coronado in early 2012.
To learn more about the WPNP, visit www.wpnp.org.