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.

Fighting Eagles Cadets Conduct Squad Operations Across the Palouse Hills

On February, 28 2019, the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) battalion conducted its weekly leadership lab on the Montague’s Farm property located to the west of the university’s campus.  Much like last week’s training at the Cheney Water Works, the Montague’s Farm property was also covered in knee deep snow.  This deep snow was evidence of the grit Fighting Eagles Cadets how to be able to conduct squad operations in rough terrain; while being in freezing cold temperatures.

EWU ROTC Cadets patrol the Palouse hills to the east of Cheney, Washington.

After first formation the officer in charge (OIC) of this week’s lab, Cadet Samuel Coutts gave a safety brief about cold weather injures and explained to the Cadets the task, conditions, and standards for the lab.  For this lab the Fighting Eagle Cadets were tested on their skills to properly conduct squad assault battle drills and react to indirect fire.  Each squad was assigned an MS-IV (senior) Cadet who evaluated and helped the MS-III (Junior) Cadets conduct their mission. Each MS-III had a chance to rotate through leadership positions to give them further practice before attending Advanced Camp at Ft. Knox, Kentucky this summer.  The 37-day camp is a requirement for all MS-III Cadets to pass before commissioning as an officer in the Army.

Cadets take cover after they are engaged by an enemy opposing force (OPFOR).

During the battle drill lanes, the Cadets patrolled along the Palouse hills of Montague’s Farm.  The world “Palouse” comes from the French term “land with short grass” which is believed to have come from French fur trappers.  The Palouse were formed between 15,000-17000 years from sediment left over from the Great Ice Age Floods.  This leftover sediment formed the Palouse much like wind blown sand creates sand dunes.  The fertile soil makes for great farming, but during the winter, the hills make for a large and challenging training ground for ROTC Cadets.

Cadets patrol through deep snow.

While patrolling the Palouse hills the squads were engaged by an enemy opposing force (OPFOR).  This triggered the squad leaders to execute their battle drills that focused on getting down, returning fire, getting the squad on line, and yelling out description, direction, and distance. After they had eliminated the OPFOR, the MS-III squad leader had to lead their squad size element through the objective and implement prior lab training to set up 360 security and go through special teams.  Once the lane was completed, an MS-IV evaluator would conduct an after action report (AAR) that is used to describe what the Cadet did correctly and identify areas of improvement.

A squad of EWU ROTC Cadets patrol through a section of wooded terrain.

Cadets engage OPFOR that ambushed them in the treeline.

The next lane the Cadets had to rotate to was the indirect fire lane.  When a simulated indirect fire attack began the MS-III squad leader that was in charge had to yell out to the rest of their squad a distance and direction to a location that was deemed safe.

Fighting Eagles Cadet rushes up a hill covered in deep snow.

Overall the Fighting Eagles had another great leadership lab to prepare them for the upcoming Winter Field Training Exercise (FTX).  The FTX will test the Cadets over 24 straight hours on all the skills they have learned this quarter during leadership labs.  It will be another challenging training event that our EWU ROTC Cadets will undoubtedly excel at.

Go ROTC!  Go Fighting Eags!

Cheney Water Works Becomes Training Ground for EWU ROTC Battalion

On February, 21 2019, the Eastern Washington University (EWU) ROTC battalion conducted its weekly leadership lab at the Cheney Water Works (CWW).

The CWW provides the “Fighting Eagles” Cadets a forested area near the EWU campus to practice their squad operations skills they learned from previous leadership labs.  Due to the heavy snow fall this winter, the Cadets were physically challenged during the lab by having to trudge through knee deep snow.  With all the physical training that the Cadets do in the morning, they were able to be resilient and push right through it.

Heavy snow covers an open area at the Cheney Water Works. 

At first formation, the officer in charge (OIC) Cadet Erling Anderson, gave a safety brief for cold weather injuries and explained to the Cadets what they will be training on during the lab.

Cadet Erling Anderson (far right) briefs the Fighting Eagles Cadets prior to executing the weekly leadership lab. 

At this weekly leadership lab the Fighting Eagles Cadets were tested on their skills to properly conduct an ambush and an area reconnaissance mission.  After first formation each squad moved to their designated area in the woods to conduct their training.  Each squad was assigned an MS-IV (senior) Cadet who evaluated and helped the MS-III (Junior) Cadets conduct their mission. The MS-III Cadets had a chance to rotate through leadership roles to give them practice on how to lead a squad size element at either the ambush lane or the recon lane.

EWU ROTC Fighting Eagles Cadets position themselves for a squad ambush.

The ambush lane is where Cadets had to position their squad on the objective where the enemy will be traveling through.   The MS-III Cadet had to go through troop leading procedures (TLPs); which they have learned in their military science class from the Cadet Command NCO Instructor of the Year, Sergeant First Class( SFC) Jason Hennig. After the MS-III Cadets planned the mission they would lead their squad through the mission.

EWU Cadets position themselves to conduct a squad ambush.

Other Cadets playing the Opposing Force (OPFOR) would role play the enemy troops traveling down the road.  Once the OPFOR reached the ambush site, the squad would then initiate their attack against the enemy force.  After the execution of the mission the MS-IV Cadet would do an after action report (AAR), that is used to describe what the Cadet did correctly during the execution of the lane and identify areas of improvement.

EWU ROTC Cadet prepares to engage the enemy during squad ambush training.

During the recon mission, Cadets had to locate an enemy force without being seen.  While observing the enemy, the Cadets had to collect Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIR).

EWU ROTC Cadets cross an open area while conducting a reconnaissance mission.

PIR is extremely important information that can be sent to higher command element to be used for future operations.  Similar as an ambush, the MS-III Cadets had to go through TLPs to plan and then execute this mission.

Cadet Nicholas Null (center) briefs his squad after returning from reconnaissance mission.

The training conducted at the Cheney Water Works will help prepare the Cadets for next month’s winter Field Training Exercise (FTX).  The FTX will test the Cadets on all the skills they have learned this quarter during the leadership labs.  Training basic soldier and leadership skills is important for preparing the MS-III Cadets for their upcoming attendance at Advanced Camp at Ft. Knox, Kentucky this summer.  The 37-day camp is a requirement for all MS-III Cadets to pass before commissioning as an officer in the Army.

Go ROTC!  Go Fighting Eags!

Fighting Eagles Cadets Show Their Toughness Conducting Squad Operations Despite Deep Snow

On February, 14 2019, the Eastern Washington University (EWU) ROTC battalion conducted its weekly Leadership Lab at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Field and inside Cadet Hall. The freezing temperatures and record snow fall did not stop the “Fighting Eagles” Cadets from conducting their training.  This February the Spokane area has seen five times the normal amount of snowfall leading to deep snow levels on the EWU Campus.

Cadet Hall surrounded by deep snow.

At this week’s Leadership Lab the Cadets trained on how to properly execute squad attack and assault drills.  The platoons while inside Cadet Hall rehearsed the drills before rotating outside to be evaluated on JFK Field.  Once outside the Cadets met up with their MS-IV (senior) Cadet who evaluated each squad within the platoon on how well they executed the attack and assault drills.

EWU ROTC Cadet maneuver across JFK Field on the EWU campus.

The MS-III (junior) Cadets were responsible for leading each squad as part of their preparation for Advanced Camp.  Advanced Camp is held each summer at Ft. Knox, Kentucky and the 37 day event is the culmination of three years of intense training in the ROTC program.

EWU ROTC Cadets maneuver through deep snow during weekly training.

The MS-III Cadets used skills learned at prior labs to effectively maneuver their squads to flank and assault the enemy during this week’s training.  After each drill an after action report (AAR) was held that was facilitated by the MS-IV Cadet to help the MS-III improve on anything they did wrong during the drill.

MS-IV Cadet Megan Anderson (center) mentors subordinate Cadets.

At the completion of the lab a final formation was held where the EWU ROTC Professor of Military Science (PMS), Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Jonathan Stafford recognized the Hero of the Lab.  For this week’s lab, MS-II (sophomore) Cadet Emma Latour was recognized as the Hero of the Lab for how clearly she communicated with her fellow squad members and the high motivation she showed despite the deep snow and cold.

14 Feb. 2019 Hero of the Lab

Great job this week by Cadet Latour and all the other outstanding Fighting Eagles Cadets.

Go ROTC!  Go Fighting Eags!