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Negotiation in the Military
Leonard L. Lira
Editors’ Note: Since as long as anyone can remember, negotiators have used war metaphors as a way to frame what they were thinking, and as an analogy to what might happen if no deal is reached. But the warriors themselves have wised up. In this chapter, U.S. Army Colonel Leonard Lira shows how the military has learned some hard lessons. Now, the military is well on the road toward sophistication about its own needs and practices in negotiation.
After fifteen years of continual conflict, conventional wisdom in the U.S. can no longer hold that the military is employed when negotiations have failed. In the modern era of conflict, as witnessed by state intervention enacted out of fear or in conquest, and in the regional internecine fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Northern Africa during the first part of this century, war is not only the last option when diplomacy fails, but as a point of fact, has often been used as the first option. Nonetheless, if there is one thing that the U.S. military has learned in the last decade-plus of conflict, it is that force alone is insufficient to win the peace.
While the Army still views its core mission as war fighting to fulfill its Congressional mandate of “Preserving the peace and security and providing for the defense of the United States,” the predominant professional view no longer holds that the Army’s core function is to destroy the enemy state’s combat forces. In fact, the Army’s capstone statement of doctrine, “ADP-1 The Army”, acknowledges that the environment has adapted, and that it must “recognize and fully embrace the changes inthe environment that offer us new avenues to maintain our preeminence” (CADD 2013: 1). So while the Army still embraces its utility to compel the nation’s adversaries in military campaigns, the focus is on “deliver[ing] lasting strategic results.” As such, the military profession has accepted the changing nature of its professional ethic, and has begun to acknowledge that it must use negotiation skills as one of the tools at its disposal to accomplish the overall strategic goals of the nation during conflicts.
This chapter supersedes my chapter “The Military Learns to Negotiate”, published in 2006. (Lira 2006) I will review here not only how the Army has learned to negotiate, but what it has learned from its need to negotiate. This chapter updates the evaluation of this phenomenon, previously conducted at the three levels of analysis according to military science—strategic, operational, and tactical—to include the organizational levels of analysis, from institutional, organizational, and individual perspectives.
A Changing Military and the Need for Negotiation
The recognition of the need for negotiation as a tool in military operations arose from the early 1990 deployments to peace operations. Primarily due to this role as peacekeepers, the military found itself interacting with a multitude of organizations and individuals in operations that necessitated a safe resolution to volatile situations. These situations dictated that military personnel need to be able to negotiate responsibility and effectively (Goodwin 2004).
This requirement did not go away with the onset of the violent campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq after 2001. If anything, the military learned that negotiation was more important than ever, given that it now found itself operating in the “3-block” war. This metaphor is meant to depict that the military is engaged in a full-on firefight on the first block. On a second block, they are negotiating with locals to either stop them from fighting or to help re-build stability, and on the third block, they are negotiating with other government and non-government organizations to gain the resources and humanitarian support needed to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict (Krulak 1999).
This construct of the 3-block conflict confirmed my assertion from the 2006 chapter that the goal of military operations in all phases of conflict (on any block it is on) is conflict transformation. That is, that one of the military’s main goals is nothing less than changing the environment from war to peace, from violent dissonance to prosperous economic and political competition indicative of social consonance. This goal emanates from the U.S. military’s need for legitimacy in the eyes of its main stakeholder, the American people.
Recently, however, American society has become more reluctant to confer its endorsement for continued military operations beyond the existence of perceived direct threats. This lack of endorsement has caused a reevaluation of the professional military ethic (Pfaff 2005). For....
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