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 rotc@ewu.edu 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.