Eagles, Pirates, Bulldogs, & Coug Cadets Excel During the Operation Agile Leader FTX

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.

Individual Training

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.

EWU Army ROTC Cadets board a bus to depart for OAL training.

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.

Cadets engage targets with their M4 rifles at the Medical Lake Range.

MAJ Baggot (GU) teaches the Call For Fire Training class.

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.

Cadet Kayla Rambo from Whitworth University conducts day land navigation training.

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.

Cadets conduct hand grenade familiarization training.

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.

A Cadet throws a simulator grenade at a bunker.

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.

Cadets receive a safety briefing before departing on the night land navigation course.

Easter Service

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.

Father Mai provides an Easter service to Cadets at the OAL FTX.

Father Mai provides a blessing during Easter services.

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.

Cadets fire a crew served weapon during Operation Agile Leader training.

EWU Army ROTC Cadet, Josh Browning takes part in Platoon STX lanes during the OAL FTX.


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.

Cadets clean weapons at Camp Seven Mile.

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.

Cadets load buses to return 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!

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

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 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.