By West Point Negotiation ProjectDecember 7, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 7, 2011) -- "We are here today because the number one thing we need to do better down range is negotiation," the company commander told team leaders and team sergeants of the First Special Forces Group.
The group of Special Forces Soldiers from the Second Battalion of the First Special Forces Group recently gathered for negotiation training taught by members of the West Point Negotiation Project.
The WPNP conducted its sixth Mobile Training Team since the MTT was first established three years ago. WPNP members have also taught MTTs for the 25th Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, the 10th Mountain Division, 173rd Airborne and the Navy SEALs.
This was the WPNPs' first MTT with an Army Special Forces unit. Most of the team leaders are captains with varying numbers of deployments, while the team sergeants are senior noncommissioned officers and have been deployed numerous times, some having more than 10 deployments.
"Formal negotiation training provided an excellent baseline for all future key leader engagements, which are the bread and butter of Army SF missions," one team leader said.
Most members of the unit had no formal negotiation training despite continually finding themselves in situations where their mission depended on successful negotiations with local foreign indigenous defense forces, adjacent units or even their own chain of command.
The MTT team consisted of WPNP Co-Director, Maj. Zach Mundell, who led most of the instructional and debrief sessions. He was assisted by Class of 2012 Cadet Jonathan Stevens and Class of 2013 Cadets Christian Zarnke and Luke Hutchison, who led the preparation for, and participated in, each of the negotiation practical exercises.
"Overall I was very pleased with how the MTT turned out," Mundell said. "We received very positive feedback as well as ideas to improve our training in the future as we continue to grow the MTT program."
The cadets were equally pleased with the experience.
"It isn't every day that we have the chance to rub elbows with people in the special operations community," Stevens said. "Having the chance to meet SF operators and learn about the real challenges they face has been an amazing opportunity."
Hutchison and Zarnke were pleased to see that the negotiation concepts they had worked so hard to master and communicate were received with such enthusiasm.
Within days of returning to West Point, WPNP received another request to train an infantry unit at Joint Base Lewis-McCord in February. Three officers from the unit had been present for the training with 1SFG and want additional training for their junior leaders. In March the project expects to travel to Europe for the first time, conducting MTTs for units in Germany.
The WPNP was founded in 2009 to enhance the ability of military leaders to conduct negotiation in the complex and challenging situations they face in both combat and peacetime. The WPNP holds an annual conference attended by cadets and military officers from across North America, consults on a variety of projects across the Army, and conducts MTTs for deploying units.
For more information, visit www.wpnp.org.