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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.