Cadets of the EWU Fighting Eagles Battalion at the completion of their Winter FTX.
On February 26th, the EWU Fighting Eagles Battalion conducted its Winter Field Training Exercise (FTX), the culminating training event for the quarter. The purpose of the FTX is to test Cadets on the leadership and tactical skills in high-pressure scenarios. The entire Battalion worked together to make this event successful. The cadre served as coaches and provided mentorship throughout the exercise. MSIVs/MSVs (seniors) served as evaluators, opposition force role-players, and support staff. The MSIIIs (juniors) served as squad leaders (responsible for ~9 soldiers) and were the primary group under evaluation. The MSIIs (sophomores) served as team leaders (responsible for ~3 cadets) and the MSIs (freshmen) filled each of the teams.
Team Leaders provide guidance and direction to their teams prior to executing a mission.
The framework for evaluating MSIII cadets’ ability to lead tactical missions is the Army Leadership Requirements Model. This model lists and defines the three key attributes (character, presence, and intellect) and 3 key competencies (leads, develops, and achieves) required to be an effective Army leader.
The Army Leadership Requirements Model is the framework for evaluating Cadets’ leadership and tactical performance.
The Winter FTX provided cadets the opportunity to continue developing critical skills such as effective communications, personnel management/delegation, resource management, and crisis management. it was a long and hard day, but the cadets finished with experiences, camaraderie and growth also their journey to become better versions of themselves as leaders.
MSIII Cadet Sergeant Browning carries a member of his squad while practicing tactical combat casualty care.
The final event of the FTX- Cadets march behind the EWU ROTC guidon (flag) on their ruck back to Cadet Hall on EWU’s campus.
From 2-5 April 2021 Cadets from the Fight Eagles and Bulldog Army ROTC Battalions deployed out to Camp Seven Mile, Washington to conduct Phase 2 of Operation Agile Leader (OAL). The two battalions are composed of Cadets from Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Whitworth University, and Washington State University-Spokane College of Nursing. OAL was developed by U.S. Army Cadet Command to train senior Cadets on skills that were traditionally trained at Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky that was cancelled last summer due to the pandemic. This skills are instead trained at the regional level with combined FTX’s with nearby ROTC programs. Operation Agile Leader is the top priority this year for the U.S. Army Cadet Command. Phase 1 of OAL was completed back in October 2020 and Phase II completes the remainder of the training tasks the Cadets missed by not attending Advanced Camp.
On the first day of the FTX the Fighting Eagles Cadets had a very early 4:45 AM formation at Cadet Hall to draw equipment and gear. The Cadets then boarded buses at 5:30 AM to first go to Gonzaga University to draw weapons before one group departed to Camp Seven Mile and another to the Medical Lake Range.
The The tasks for the Cadets at the range was to zero their M4 rifle and then qualify using the Army’s new marksmanship standards. After the Cadets qualified they then had to attend Call For Fire Training (CFFT). During this training the Cadets learned how to call in artillery fire on an enemy’s position. After attending the training they than had to pass a practical exercise by calling in fire using a terrain model.
Back at Camp Seven Mile the group of Cadets there conducted day land navigation training. Each Cadet had to look for three points spread out over an extremely large wooded and hilly area. The Cadets had to successfully find 2 of the 3 points within the allotted time in order to pass the course.
Following the completion of the day land navigation course the Cadets that afternoon conducted grenade familiarization training. During the training the Cadets learned how to hold, arm, and throw training hand grenades.
Following the completion of this training the Cadets then conducted a buddy team fire and maneuver course. During the course two Cadets would bound forward and fire their blanks at simulated enemies. At the end of the course each Cadet then had to throw a hand grenade simulator at a bunker to try and destroy it.
After completing this training the Cadets then moved into night land navigation. During this training the Cadets had to find 2 points in the hilly and wooded terrain in complete darkness. This is always the most challenging test for land navigation and the Cadets received great training on this course to prepare them for upcoming Advanced Camp training.
Easter Sunday occurred during the OAL FTX. Gonzaga University was able to support those who recognize Easter with a field service. Father Dan Mai traveled out to Camp Seven Mile and set up a field ministry in the middle of the forest for Cadets to participate. We appreciate Father Mai for supporting the Cadets during the OAL FTX.
Platoon STX Lanes
For Days 3 & 4 the Cadets moved into the Platoon Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes of the OAL FTX. During these two days the Cadets were divided up into three platoons and had to conduct platoon level recon, ambush, attack, movement-to-contact, and defense lanes. MS-IV Cadets that needed to complete their OAL requirements and MS-III Cadets attending Advanced Camp this summer filled into the key leadership positions. The training in these leadership positions provided all them valuable experience for future training.
Following the completion of Platoon STX lanes training the Cadets then reassembled at the major holding area to begin weapons cleaning. Cleaning weapons is an important recovery activity after any FTX since the weapons are turned in to the Washington National Guard.
After completing weapons cleaning, the Cadets then tore down the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) tents and prepped their gear for movement. They then walked with their gear to the loading up point to take buses back to their respective universities.
Overall the OAL #2 FTX was a fantastic training event for the Cadets that participated from all four universities. Congratulations to all our MS-IV Cadets that received their Advanced Camp credit to commission as Army officers this year. Additionally the FTX provided great training for all the MS-III Cadets that are heading off to Advanced Camp this summer. Great job by all the Cadets involved who are clearly better prepare to succeed in ROTC than before the FTX. Eagle Strong!
From March 5-6, 2021, The “Fighting Eagles” battalion from the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at Eastern Washington University (EWU) conducted their winter field training exercise (FTX). This FTX was the culmination of all the training the Cadets have conducted at weekly Leadership Labs this quarter. The primary goal of the FTX was to test our MS-III (Junior) Cadets on leading a squad sized element and giving tactical experience to the MS-II (sophomore) and MS-I (freshman) Cadets in a field environment.
On Friday the Cadets and Cadre worked to setup the lanes, draw rifles, and ammunition. On Saturday morning the Cadets then met up at 0400 at Cadet Hall and deployed out to the Cheney Waterworks for the FTX. At the Waterworks there was 5 training lanes that the Cadets would be evaluated on during the FTX:
movement to contact
The Cadets for the FTX were issued M4 rifles and M249 Squad Automatic Weapons (SAW) with blank rounds along with SINCGARS radios. Carrying the real weapons, blank ammunition, and tactical radios allowed the Cadets to experience what it is like to carry the additional weight for an extended period of time. The weapons loaded with blank ammunition also allowed the Cadets to practice weapons safety by enforcing procedures to prevent negligent discharges.
For the Movement to Contact lane, the squad leader received the mission and went through their troop leading procedures (TLPs) to execute the mission. As the squad moved through the lane, they received fire from an enemy Opposing Force (OPFOR) composed of MS-IV and National Guard role players. Once the squad received fire, the squad leader maneuvered the squad to counterattack the enemy and eliminate the threat.
For the Squad Attack lane the squad leader knew the exact location of the OPFOR. Once the squad leader finished their planning and rehearsals, they would lead their squad near the location and set up their support by fire and assaulting element. Once the squad leader initiated the fight, the support by fire element would fire on the enemy while the assaulting element would go through the objective to clear it. The squad attack lane was made extra hard due to the need stealthy approach the enemy without being detected while simultaneously trying to get around a small lake.
For the Ambush lane the squad leader had to position their squad on the objective where the enemy will be traveling through. After planning, the squad leader would position their squad in the path that the OPFOR would be walking through. Once the OPFOR entered a designated kill zone the squad would initiate the ambush. An added challenge for this lane was that the OPFOR after being attacked would retreat into an old junk yard. This meant the Cadets had to maneuver and fight through the junkyard to eliminate the enemy threat.
The next lane was the Area Recon. Here the squad leader had to plan for a mission where their squad had to locate an enemy force without detected. While observing the enemy, the Cadets had to collect Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIR) which were then sent to the higher command element via radio. The added challenge on this lane was that the Cadets conducting the recon had to cross a road which is known tactically as a linear danger area without being detected.
The final lane was squad level defense. While in a patrol base the squad was attacked by the OPFOR. To help the Cadets detect the OPFOR trying to infiltrate their perimeter, trip wires that ignited signal flares were used. This added extra realism to the lane that feature much fire, smoke, and noise in an effort to create a chaotic environment to challenge the Cadets.
With a very early morning start, cold temperatures, and constant activity, the EWU ROTC Cadets where tested both physically and mentally during the Winter FTX. This training is used to prepare our MS-III Cadets for Advance Camp at Ft. Knox, Kentucky this summer. Advanced Camp is a requirement for all MS-III Cadets to pass in order to commission as Army officers. The 37-day Advanced Camp is why the Fighting Eagles battalion conducts challenging training to prepare the MS-III Cadets as much as possible for camp. Next quarter the battalion has even more challenging training planned in conjunction with Gonzaga University ROTC to further prepare the Cadets to succeed during summer training.
Between 9-12 October 2020 Cadets from both the Eastern Washington University (EWU) and the Gonzaga University (GU) Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs conducted their first Operation Agile Leader (OAL) Field Training Exercise (FTX). OAL FTX’s are being held around the country to evaluate fourth year Cadets on critical skills they were not trained on due to the cancellation of Advanced Camp this past summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead the Cadets are being trained at the regional level with combined FTX’s with nearby ROTC programs. Operation Agile Leader is the top priority this year for the U.S. Army Cadet Command.
The OAL FTX began on the early morning hours of October 9th with the Cadets from EWU and GU into three 3-person platoons at different locations on campus. These three platoons the Cadets would remain in throughout the FTX at different locations to avoid a large gathering. Additionally the Cadets all wore masks, were issued their own bottle of hand sanitizer, and practiced social distancing to further mitigate any COVID spread. At EWU the platoons then rotated to draw gear, their weapons, and Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) from the Cadet Hall supply room. After being issued all their necessary gear the platoons were then transported on different buses to separate training locations to begin the FTX.
Basic Rifle Marksmanship and First Air Testing
For the first three days of the Operation Agile Leader FTX, the platoons would rotate through three different training events. The first training event was held at the Department of Corrections Range in Medical Lake. There Cadets conducted Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM) qualification.
In addition to qualifying on their weapon, the Cadets additionally conducted testing on important first aid skills. Cadets were evaluated on their ability to diagnose and treat injuries and then had to evacuate a casualty.
Camp Seven Mile
The second training station was located a Camp Seven Mile just north of Spokane. Camp Seven Mile is an expansive forested area owned by the military adjacent to Riverside State Park. The large federal land area is a legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Beginning in 1933, all the trails and bridge improvements in Riverside State Park were made by the CCC 949 Company that was based here.
During World War II the CCC was disbanded and the land was given to the military as a training base. EWU and Gonzaga ROTC plus other local military units still use this land today to train on.
Ruck March and Land Navigation Testing
At Camp Seven Mile the other two platoons were transported to separate locations to conduct different training events. One platoon began their day of training by conducting a six mile ruck march around the Camp Seven Mile property. Cadets had to complete the ruck march in under 2 hours.
Following the ruck march the platoon then moved into Land Navigation testing. The first test they had to take was a written land nav test. Following the written test the Cadets then were given grid points to plot on a map and then try attempt to locate during the day time. After the completion of the day land nav testing the Cadets then waited until it was night time and they were then issued grid points to plot in the darkness and locate at night.
Battle Drills and Tactics Training
The other platoon at Camp Seven Mile conducted tactics and battle drills training. Due to the long summer layoff the training was used as a refresher course for the Cadets on tactics prior to conducting platoon level Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes on the fourth day of the FTX.
Cadets Overcome Inclement Weather
After the first day of the Operation Agile Leader FTX, the weather would become an enormous factor with heavy rain, wind, and cold temperatures for days two and three of the FTX. This forced the Cadets to learn how to keep themselves and their equipment dry in the inclement conditions. The Cadets also learned how to create shelter using their ponchos to try and stay dry at night and get some sleep in the rain.
Platoon STX Lanes
After an extremely difficult night of sleeping in the rain, the Cadets woke up to day four of the FTX with partly cloudy skies and no rain. This ensured that there would be a great day of training for the Cadets. On day four each platoon conducted Platoon STX lanes at separate locations at Camp Seven Mile. The lanes focused on conducting recons, ambushes, and movement to contact. During these lanes the MS-IV Cadets were evaluated by Cadre members on their performance. Getting a “Go” on the lanes would bring the Cadet one step closer to receiving Advanced Camp credit to commission later in the academic year.
Conclusion of a Great Exercise
After a full four days of training Operation Agile Leader came to an end for the Cadets. For the Cadets, outside of Advanced Camp, this will likely be the longest field training exercise they will ever do in ROTC. The Cadets however, will get to do it all over again in April when EWU and GU Army ROTC programs, conduct its second OAL FTX to complete all the remaining training tasks for the MS-IV Cadets. We look forward to executing another awesome FTX with some of the best future leaders of the U.S. Army.
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On March 5th through the 7th, Eastern Washington University (EWU) Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) “Fighting Eagles” battalion conducted their second Field Training Exercise (FTX) of the 2019-2020 school year. The purpose of this FTX was to test the Cadets knowledge of squad and fire team operations in order to prepare them for Cadet Summer Training or CST. The training started on March 5th with the conduction of the FTX prep lab. This lab was used to jump start Cadets’ minds into thinking tactically for the upcoming challenges. This was done by having each squad conduct pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections (PCCs and PCIs), as well as solidifying Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and lastly taking a quiz on basic individual and squad information.
On March 6th Cadets arrived at Cadet Hall on EWU campus around 1400 in order to get any last-minute packing or planning done.They had an hour to complete all these task before the buses came and brought them to training site Water Works where they conducted the day and night land navigation courses.
The third and last day of the Field Training exercise was the longest day of them all with the Cadets’ day starting at 0400. After accountability and pre-combat checks, the Cadets were issued their M4 rifles and M249 machines plus blank ammunition for the FTX. Using real rifles with blank ammunition adds greatly to the realism of the training event.
the Cadets assembled at the Cheney Waterworks Training Area for squad training lanes. At last year’s Winter FTX the Cadets trained in challenging wintry conditions with deep snow covering the training site. This year the weather would be different, but still have challenging conditions with a persistent cold rain for nearly the entire day.
There were five lanes that the MS-III Cadets were tested on; the first was movement to contact, which the squad leader was informed that enemies were in the vicinity of a certain area. It was their job to plan a patrol in which they would take contact with the enemy and neutralize them using a pre-established battle drill. The second lane was a squad area defense. This helped the Cadets properly set a defensive position and learn how to utilize terrain to their advantage while being attacked by an enemy.
The third lane was a squad attack, which is similar to the movement to contact lane, but the precise enemy location is known, and it is the squad’s goal to initiate contact first. The fourth lane was squad ambush. In this scenario the enemy was known to have high foot traffic through a certain area, the Cadets were to cut them off by a certain time in order to minimize the enemy’s presence. The last lane was squad recon. Cadets were told that an unknown number of enemies were holding a position. The squad leader was then told to gather information on the enemy in order to solidify their numbers and possible intent. They did this by sending out recon and surveillance teams as well as security and observation. The recon and surveillance team’s job was to get eyes on the enemy from multiple vantage positions in order to gather intelligence; all while not being seen.
With freezing cold temperatures and constant missions, the EWU ROTC Cadets where tested both physically and mentally during the Winter FTX. This training is used to prepare our MS-III Cadets for Advance Camp at Ft. Knox, Kentucky this summer. Advanced Camp is a requirement for all MS-III Cadets to pass in order to commission as Army officers. The 37-day Advanced Camp is why the Fighting Eagles battalion conducts challenging training to prepare the MS-III Cadets as much as possible to excel at camp.
Next quarter the Fighting Eagles Cadets will focus more on much larger platoon operations to further prepare our Fighting Eagles Cadets to excel at Advanced Camp. EWU Army ROTC has a great track record of Cadets receiving high scores at Advanced Camp, which is made possible by the hard work and training achieved during weekly leadership labs and quarterly FTX’s. The upcoming Spring Quarter will bring on new training challenges for the Fighting Eagles Cadets.
Over the weekend the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) “Fighting Eagles” battalion conducted its annual Winter Field Training Exercise (FTX). The first day of the exercise featured the Cadets gathering at Cadet Hall to conduct inspections of their equipment before deploying to the Cheney Waterworks Training Area via bus.
Once at the Cheney Waterworks Training Area, the Cadets immediately began their first training event of the Winter FTX, a daytime land navigation assessment. Cadets were given four grid locations that they then had to plot on their maps and then use their compasses and pace counts to navigate to. The land navigation course was meant to be significantly more difficult than past lessons by having points significantly farther apart from one another so Cadets were forced to put more thought into planning a route. To pass the daytime land navigation assessment the Cadets had to find at least 3 of the 4 points they were given.
The course challenged the Cadets’ land navigation fundamentals that they have learned throughout the academic year at leadership labs. After eating a dinner consisting of Army Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) the Cadets waited until dark to begin the night land navigation assessment which would prove to be even harder. For this assessment each Cadet was given 3 points to plot on their map and navigate to in the darkness. Each Cadet had to successfully find 2 of the 3 points to pass the test.
Mastering land navigation is an important skill for Cadets to learn because most of the Cadets will attend Advanced Camp during the summer between their Junior and Senior years in college. At Advanced Camp being able to successfully pass the land navigation course at Ft. Knox, Kentucky is required for all Cadets. The land navigation training offered by the EWU Army ROTC program ensures that Cadets are ready to succeed at Advanced Camp. Our Cadets will conduct another land navigation assessment during the Spring FTX at Camp Seven Mile at Riverside State Park in May. There the course will be even more expansive and feature a number of large hills to truly challenge the Cadets’ land navigation skills prior to attending summer training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.