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RVN contributes to mission success

Religious-Values Negotiation in the Military Environment

October 2022, Number 073

Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq indicate that civil-military negotiations play a substantial role in daily operations. Military officers returning from Operational Environments (OE) report feeling unprepared to engage in cross-cultural, multi-party negotiations involving religious stakeholders.

This monograph presents Religious-Values Negotiation (RVN) as a roadmap for negotiating with religious stakeholders. Religious values are an understudied and undertheorized aspect of negotiation. Failure to recognize the presence and role of values when dealing with members of religious groups can contribute to mission failure. This paper speaks to the values-based challenges present when negotiating with religious stakeholders. The authors propose that military negotiators deepen their awareness of religious values in developing and executing their negotiation strategies. Awareness of religious values as an aspect of negotiation can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the negotiation ecosystem. 

The authors establish how RVN contributes to mission success using a case study of General John ‘Blackjack’ Pershing’s negotiations with the Moro’s in the Philippines in 1901. The study is a precursor of work on religious stakeholder negotiation. The limits of Interest-Based Negotiation (IBN) as a model for negotiating with religious stakeholders are also discussed. Procedures for negotiating with religious stakeholders are presented, and recommendations for including RVN into Professional Military Education are made.

About the Authors

Thomas Matyók, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Joint Civil-Military Interaction Network and Senior Lecturer in Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Middle Georgia State University, USA. He is the former Chair and Director of Graduate Studies of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Tom conducts high-impact, policy-relevant studies regarding the strategic environment, its principle strategic challenges, and the relative balance of national and human security ends, ways, and means to contend with them. Tom also investigates ways of merging design and conflict analysis and resolution methodologies to achieve a multi-dimensional understanding of conflict. Tom was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Konstanz in Southern Germany researching the role of international student exchanges in strengthening the Trans-Atlantic Partnership using a Peace Studies dual-degree curriculum. He has published and presented on Civil-Military Interaction, Religion and Conflict, Negotiation, and Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He has taught Conflict Analysis and Negotiation at both the U.S. Army and Air War Colleges and he was a Visiting Research Professor at the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI). Tom is  former Director of the U.S. Air Force Negotiation Center.

Peter Ochs, Ph.D. is Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at the University of Virginia, where he co-directs the UVA Research Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Conflict. Ochs co-founded the Society for Scriptural Reasoning. Among his publications are 250 essays in pragmatism and semiotics; the logic of scripture; religion and conflict; comparative Abrahamic scriptural traditions, and Jewish-Christian theological dialogue. His most recent book is Religion Without Violence: The Practice and Philosophy of Scriptural Reasoning. His next book is Value Predicate Analysis: How to Diagnose Religion Dimensions of Ongoing Violent Conflicts.

William Flavin is currently an independent consultant on peace and stabilization. Previously, he was the Assistant Director at the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Institute (PKSOI) in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Mr. Flavin assisted PKSOI with the implementation of its Joint Proponent responsibilities in peace and stability operations coordinating with Department of Defense, Department of State, and USAID. Additionally, he assisted with advancing the U.S. government’s United Nations initiatives by working with the key member states as well as NGOs and international fora. Previously he was a senior foreign affairs analyst with Booz Allen and Hamilton on contract to assist the Peacekeeping Institute in doctrine development. Prior to this assignment, he was a Colonel in the U.S. Army serving as the Deputy Director of Special Operations for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe at the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) from June 1995 to June 1999. Mr. Flavin served in the U.S. Army for 31 years in Infantry and Special Forces where he has had extensive experience in planning and executing at the strategic and operational level. He has participated in many of the key operations from Viet Nam through the Balkans. He was the Special Operations Chair at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) from 1991 to 1995 and prior to that served on the staffs of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Department of the Army. He has published on the topics of Peace and Stabilization Operations as well as interagency and civil military operations.

The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany is a German-American partnership and trusted global network promoting common values and advancing collaborative geostrategic solutions. The Marshall Center’s mission to educate, engage, and empower security partners to collectively affect regional, transnational, and global challenges is achieved through programs designed to promote peaceful, whole of government approaches to address today’s most pressing security challenges. Since its creation in 1992, the Marshall Center’s alumni network has grown to include over 15,000 professionals from 157 countries. More information on the Marshall Center can be found online at

This paper reflects the views of the authors and is not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.