2016 Army War College-Patterson School Crisis Simulation Debriefing

This past weekend, the Patterson School completed its 3rd annual crisis negotiation exercise with the US Army War College. Taking place over the course of a single weekend, the simulation is a cornerstone of the Patterson experience. Students often remark that they learn more about practical diplomatic skills than during the rest of the semester. The value of simulations to the development of skills is long established in various professional fields, and here at Patterson, we take it pretty seriously.

This year’s topic was a plausible future scenario in which tensions in Cyprus escalate into hostilities that require diplomatic intervention from the international community. The tensions in Cyprus involve various nuances, including conflict between ethnically Turkish groups in the northern part of the island and the ethnically Greek groups on the southern part of the island. In the scenario, the two are separated by a UN-controlled buffer zone occupied by UN peacekeepers. There is also a large number of landmines on the island; this became a central focus in negotiations. Additional issues included energy access, trade, military presences on the island, issues of government structure, and conflicting ideas of demographic representation.

The entities represented in the negotiations were: the United Kingdom (in the interest of full disclosure, this was my team), the United States, The European Union, The United Nations, Turkey, Greece, the Republic of Cyprus (representing the Greek Cypriots), and a delegation representing the Turkish Cypriot community on the island.

Though the ultimate achievement of the simulation was that all parties agreed to continue negotiate a permanent political solution to the conflict at a later date, several secondary agreements were established. Most of these were proposed and or negotiated by the UK with some assistance from the US, EU, and UN Delegations.
– One agreement abolished landmines on the island and provided a plan for their removal
– One agreement established trust-building initiatives between the two Cypriot delegations including educational exchanges and dual-language road signs.
– One agreement returned the city of Varosha to the Greek Cypriot community in exchange for equal investment opportunities and established space for Turkish Cypriot workers in oil exploration on the southern part of the island.
– One agreement established military drawbacks on the parts of Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea
– One agreement opened lines of trade on the island in conjunction with transportation facilities.

An agreement on landmine removal, signed by all delegations.

As noted above, students frequently discuss the crisis simulation as one of the most valuable and instructive activities offered by Patterson. Below are some observations from student participants:

Turkish Cypriot Delegation Leader and Patterson 2nd Year Austin Anderson had this to say:

“The Army War College scenario again proved to be one of my favorite Patterson School experiences. My team was fantastic. They stayed on task, showed initiative, and were creative in their problem solving approaches. There was a time when they were really close to a solution with the US delegation and the Cyprus delegation. Unfortunately, we ended up using up a lot of time on frivolous agreements, which was probably their first encounter with dealing with special interests that want to ignore the major problem for their own gain. Overall, they learned that diplomacy was hard work, and that by working hard and being persistent, we can solve any problem peacefully.”

US Delegation Leader and Patterson 2nd Year Chris Bartlett:

“Team USA performed admirably during the sim. It succeeded at staying relevant within a conflict often dominated by regional powers. If there had to be a winner, my vote would be for the UK. Its team managed to avoid getting bogged down in the security discussions and produced substantial goodwill measures.”

EU Delegation Leader and Patterson 2nd Year Dana Lea:

“Being a leader for the EU team during this year’s AWC simulation was a very good experience for me. I believe I further refined my skills in balancing task delegation and collective teamwork. I am very impressed by the level of research and understanding that my team came into the simulation with. As a main facilitator in the Cyprus situation, it was not important for the EU to originally be a loud force in negotiations. Furthermore, it was interesting to figure out how to respectively represent very many nations under on united IO. Unfortunately communications and meeting scheduling really held us back in being a facilitator during the simulation. But I am happy for the work that was able to be accomplished. I am also pleased that my team was able to actually push the buttons of the Turkish team. I do not believe the EU would have ever allowed a European government to be created with Turkish military occupation. So that was an issue we decided to take a very hard line with, despite Turkish resentment. Overall, I’m happy by the opportunities Patterson presents us with to further our practical skills and to indeed learn to work with other equally and greater intelligent and stubborn individuals.”

EU Delegation Member and Patterson 1st Year Erin Miller:

“As a first year, the simulations were a very useful tool to help me understand the nature of the work in the field of diplomacy. It has become clear that in a situation such as the negotiations we were simulating, often times expectations will not be met and goals can easily be forgotten.”

Turkish Delegation Member and Patterson 1st Year Laurel Anderson:

“As a first year, I was originally nervous, but I was able to learn on the spot! My first negotiation was with Mariel [Mariel Arata, Turkish Delegation Leader and Patterson 2nd Year] and Austin [Austin Anderson, mentioned above]. Through watching them I was able to learn how the simulation worked.”

So here ends yet another fascinating and instructive negotiation sim between the Patterson School and the AWC. Yet again, the simulation proved to be one of the most effective, informative, and enjoyable experiences of a Patterson education. Future classes have a lot to look forward to as the relationship between the two organizations continues.


Lee Clark is a master’s candidate at the Patterson School for Diplomacy and International Commerce and Print Editor for ExPatt Magazine. His professional interests include diplomacy, security, and humanitarian work. He is currently interested in study abroad and internship opportunities. He can be contacted at lee.clark@gmail.com.

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