Winter FTX Challenges Fighting Eagles Cadets on Squad Level Tactical Skills

Winter FTX

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.

Cheney Waterworks Property

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:

  1. movement to contact
  2. squad attack
  3. ambush
  4. area recon
  5. defense

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.

Movement to Contact
Cadets react to enemy contact.

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.

Cadet Patrick Coleman issues orders to his squad over the radio.

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.

Cadet Adam Burnside assaults through a junkyard ambush.

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.

Cadet Josh Browning looks for the enemy.

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.

A member of the OPFOR sets off a trip flare during the platoon defense lane.

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.

Go ROTC!  Go Fighting Eags!

Note: You can see and download more pictures from the Winter FTX from our EWU Army ROTC Flickr page.

Task Force Spokane Executes Operation Agile Leader FTX

Operation Agile Leader Begins

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.

Early morning sunrise over the EWU campus.

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.

Cadets organize their gear on JFK Field.

Cadet Nathan Nunez from EWU signs for his equipment.

Bus operated by airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base transported Cadets throughout 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.

Cadet Michael Beier (EWU) engages targets at the rifle range.

Cadet Schaefer (GU) engages targets at the rifle range.

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.

Cadet Jenna Knight (left) from EWU helps to treat a simulated casualty during first aid testing.

Cadets Thomas Luce (left) and Liam Hewey (right) from EWU 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.

The expansive wooded terrain of Camp Seven Mile.

Both the Spokane River and the Centennial Trail run adjacent to Camp Seven Mile.

In the center right of the pictured clearing the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) for the FTX can be seen.

The TOC is where all operations and logistics for the FTX was supported from.

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.

EWU Cadet Jacob Whitmer crosses the finish line of the six mile ruck march.

EWU nursing Cadet, William Chamberlin conducts the six mile ruck march event.

First year EWU Cadet, Nik Chapple completes his first ever six-mile ruck march.

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.

Cadet Caleb Geringer from EWU plots his points during day land navigation testing.

Cadets from EWU and GU plot points in the darkness for night land navigation testing.

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.

SFC Bradley Rudolph (left) from GU counsels MS-IV Cadets on their tactical and leadership performance.

From far left, EWU Cadre member, CPT Colton Crawford and GU Cadre members Dr. Alan Westfield, MSG Chris Ford, and MAJ Jason Baggott evaluate the tactics and battle drill lanes.

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.

Cadets at the range try to keep dry under their ponchos and rain jackets.

Cadets at Camp Seven Mile try to keep dry in the driving rain.

Ruck marching in the heavy 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.

First year Cadet Nick Beier fires the M240-B machine gun.

Cadet Adam Burnside takes cover during the recent Operation Agile Leader FTX.

GU Cadet Chris Warren engages the opposing force during the recent Operation Agile Leader FTX.

Cadet Miller from GU takes cover with his M249 SAW during the Operation Agile Leader FTX.

First year cadet Mykenzie Belliotti experiences her first field training exercise.

SFC David Ratliff (left) and CPT Kyle Esquibel (right) conduct an After Action Review during the Operation Agile Leader STX lanes training.


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.

2nd platoon poses for a group photo on the final day of the Operation Agile Leader FTX.

It is not too late to sign up for ROTC and experience the award winning leadership training offered by the EWU Army ROTC program.  There are no prerequisites for joining.  Contact us at or 509-359-6110 to determine which Military Science class is best for you.  Scholarships are available!  Contact us today to learn more.

Go Eags!   Go Zags!  Go ROTC!

Note: More pictures from the Operation Agile Leader FTX can be seen and downloaded from the EWU ROTC Flickr page.

EWU Army ROTC Cadets Use Virtual Gaming Software to Train on Military Tactics

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused much change in the lives of people around the country to include here at Eastern Washington University (EWU).  In response to the pandemic all classes for Spring Quarter have been moved online to include the entire Military Science curriculum.  One of the biggest characteristics of being an Army officer is to be adaptable to changing conditions and the “Fighting Eagles” Cadets of the EWU Army ROTC program are learning that first hand right now.

Cadet Christian Goldbach logs into the Fortnite software to prepare for his weekly Leadership Lab. As an evaluator Cadet Goldbach has his Ranger Handbook and other documents ready to train assess Cadets during the lab.

Physical Training

This first major adaption has been with the unit’s physical training program (PT).  The ROTC program’s mandatory PT sessions are held on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings.  To keep a sense of normalcy, the ROTC Cadre has kept the PT schedule the same during the pandemic, however the Cadets meet up in a virtual Zoom classroom each morning.

Morning PT
Cadet Beier briefs the morning PT session over Zoom.

Two Cadets are assigned to lead each PT session for the other Cadets to follow along with over their smartphones.  After the completion of the warmup exercises they then brief the workout plan for each Cadet to complete that day that is also posted on social media:

After the completion of the workout the Cadets then log the workout on to the Strava app. Strava gives the program the ability to track the total distances and times of the exercises for each Cadet.

Strava App

Leadership Labs

Another challenge the program faced was being able to conduct Leadership Labs in a way that would still give Cadets the ability to practice platoon level tactics and leadership.  During Spring Break the EWU Army ROTC Cadre experimented with a number of first person gaming platforms to determine one that would best virtually replicate a Leadership Lab.  It was decided that the Fortnite software was the best one to handle the large number of Cadets and give the Cadre the flexibility to build virtual worlds to replicate the terrain the Cadets train in during standard Leadership Labs.

In the first two weeks, Fighting Eagles Cadets have familiarized themselves with the program and conducted a Platoon Formations and Order Of Movement (FOOM) training, practiced actions when crossing a Linear Danger Areas (LDA), and Actions on Contact (AoC).

Signs in the game direct Cadets to start point of their next training lane just like in real life.

Cadets assault through an objective.

The Cadets are divided up into three different platoons and enter their assigned virtual world accompanied by a cadre member and a MS-IV Cadet evaluator to guide and assess them.  Inside the virtual world the Cadets are evaluated on how they perform their movements and tactics as if they were in the real world.  During the lab the Cadets communicate with each other through the Discord app.  This allows Cadets in leadership positions to perform their Troop Leading Procedures (TLP’s) and give out orders during the platoon training lanes.

The current pandemic has created a challenging training environment, but part of leadership is overcoming adversity.  Former General of the Army, George C. Marshall understood this very well:

The lack of equipment, the lack of food, the lack of this or that are only excuses; the real leader displays his quality in his triumphs over adversity, however great it may be.”
General of the Army George C Marshall, and former Secretary of State & Secretary of Defense

Despite the limitations caused by the current pandemic, EWU Army ROTC leadership is committed to providing the highest quality training possible to prepare our Cadets to become future Army leaders.  If you want to explore a Military Science course, it is still possible to sign up for ROTC this Spring Quarter.  If you are interested in joining us in one of our virtual classes, physical training workouts, or Leadership Labs please contact us using this link or email us at to learn more.

Go ROTC!  Go Fighting Eags!  

EWU Army ROTC Announces Virtual Training Plan for Spring Quarter 2020

COVID-19 letter

To all of our Eastern Washington University Army ROTC Cadets, below is a letter that addresses the way ahead for Spring Quarter instruction.  Please stay tuned to our website and social media channels for future updates on Spring Quarter instruction.

A PDF copy of this letter can be downloaded at this link.

Winter Field Training Exercise Challenges Fighting Eagles Cadets on Squad Based Operations

By: Cadet Marcos Sanchez

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.

EWU Army ROTC Cadet, Rebekah Hardin takes a test prior to deploying to the field for the annual Winter FTX.

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.

Cadet Kaitlynn Taylor prepares her gear before deploying to the Cheney Waterworks Training Area.

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.

Nelson Hergert
Cadet Nelson Herget mans his fighting position with his M249 machine gun during the Winter FTX.

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.

Pictures from the EWU Army ROTC Winter FTX
Cadet Caleb Geringer conducts squad operations during the Winter FTX.

Valentino Olmstead
Cadet Valentino Olmstead is deep in thought as he endures the rain.

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.

Casey Bowen
Cadet Casey Bowen conducts squad operations during the Winter FTX.

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.

Cadet Cesar Guzman was one of the Opposing Force (OPFOR) members that the squads had to engage during the Winter FTX.

Cadets Sarah Mullen and Jazmin Castrejon were members of the OPFOR team during the Winter FTX.

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.

Corina Lindsey
Cadet Corina Lindsey flashes a smile during the Winter FTX.

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.

Go ROTC!  Go Fighting Eags! 

Note:  You can see and download many more pictures from the Winter FTX from our EWU Army ROTC Flickr page.

Final picture of all the trainees at the Cheney Waterworks prior to redeployment back to Cadet Hall.

Day #1 of EWU Army ROTC Winter Field Training Exercise Tests Cadets on Land Navigation

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.

EWU Army ROTC Cadets stand in formation outside of Cadet Hall.

EWU Army ROTC Cadets march to the buses parked outside of Cadet Hall.

EWU Army ROTC Cadet, Kyle Collins steps off the bus at the Cheney Waterworks Training Area.

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.

Cadet First Sergeant Hunter Smith holds formation at the Cheney Waterworks Training Area.

Cadet William Chamberlin plots his point during the daytime land navigation assessment.

Cadet Cierra Neumann finds a land navigation point.

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.

Cadet Christopher Millward plots grid points on his map using a red head lamp.

Cadet Taylor Stitch reports into the tactical operations center to have his night land navigation assessment graded.

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.

Go ROTC!  Go Fighting Eags!

Note: More pictures from the 2020 Winter FTX can be seen at our Flickr page link.