EWU Army ROTC Completes Annual Jump Start Training Despite Real World Challenges

Jump Start 2020

From 15-18 September 2020, the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) battalion conducted both our Jump Start program for new Cadets and Basic Camp for Cadets looking to contract this year.  In a normal year Basic Camp Cadets are sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky to conduct training.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Cadets to conduct this training with their local ROTC battalion.  The ongoing pandemic has caused many adjustments to training delivery and the recent forest fires that brought unhealthy smoke levels to the Spokane region caused further challenges.  The smoke caused a number of training events that were planned to be conducted outside to be shifted to virtual instruction.

Smoke obscures the sunrise over Roos Field on the EWU campus.

Despite the smoke the Cadets were able to move into the dorms, complete inprocessing into ROTC, and be issued their gear.  On Friday the smoke levels improved to where the Cadets conducted Drill and Ceremony and Land Navigation training outdoors.  They conducted all this training in a modified environment due to COVID-19 with all Cadets wearing masks and maintaining social distancing standards.

Cadet Geringer holds the Fighting Eagles Battalion guide-on during first formation.

Drill and ceremony has played a critical part in military history throughout the world.  Drill and ceremony teaches precision and obedience to orders which helps prepare troops for battle.  For the most part the drill procedures are very similar to the tactical maneuvers used on the battlefield. It allows commanders to move their forces from different points in an orderly fashion and maneuver forces as a situation develops.

Cadets prepare to conduct drill and ceremony training.

Our EWU Army ROTC Cadets continue a long line of drill and ceremony training for the United States Army that dates back to the Revolutionary War.  During the war General George Washington, through the assistance of Benjamin Franklin who was the American Ambassador to France, was able to secure the aid of a Prussian officer named Baron Friedrich von Steuben to drill the troops of the Continental Army.

Baron Von Steuben
Baron Friedrich Von Steuben

Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge on February, 23 1778 and found the Continental Army half-starved and ill equipped for battle.  To correct the conditions he witnessed he immediately began a rigorous training regimen of drill and ceremony to improve the military bearing of the troops.  It had an immediate impact on discipline, professionalism, and confidence of the troops to respond to commands during battle that helped lead to the ultimate defeat of the British military during the war.

Jump Start Cadets practice saluting.

After receiving their initial training the Cadets were then tested with giving and receiving commands while navigating through an obstacle course.  The Cadets were next blindfolded and given commands to march through another obstacle course.  This built the Cadets confidence to accurately give and receive commands from each other.

Cadet Jonathan Thiessen (left) gives commands to Cadet Caleb Geringer (right) to navigate him through an obstacle course.

Cadet Zackary Becker navigates through an obstacle course.

Cadet Nik Chapple is blindfolded and executed commands he received to march through an obstacle course.

During the Jump Start and Basic Camp training the Cadets also conducted Land Navigation training.  This training focused on teaching the Cadets the following skills:

  • Tracking present location
  • Determining Distance
  • Sense of direction
  • How to read a topographic map
  • Terrain and map association
  • Spatial skills
  • Planning safe, practical routes
Cadet Christopher Millward briefs the trainees on the Land Navigation course.

The practical hands on training was conducted at the Cheney Waterworks property near the EWU campus.  There the Cadets were issued grid points that they had to accurately plot on a topographic map and then plot their course to find their assigned points.  The Cadets then used their new compass, terrain analysis, and pace count skills to find the points in the surrounding forest.

Jump Start Cadets, Nicholas Beier (left) and Mykenzie Belliotti find their first land navigation point in ROTC.

Basic Camp Cadet, Corina Lindsey finds a point on the land navigation course.

At each point there is clicker that the Cadets use to mark their score sheet.  After the Cadets found their points they then returned to the start point to have their points graded by the evaluator to ensure they found the correct points.

Cadet Gervacio Camacho evaluates the points that the trainees turn in after completing the land navigation course.

All the Cadets did a great job completing the training despite the various real world circumstances they had to adjust to.  Being flexible and adaptable is part of being an effective leader and all of our Cadets learned that important lesson during the week long training.

Go ROTC! Go Fighting Eags!

Note: More photos from Jump Start and Basic Camp training can be viewed on our Flickr page.

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.

“Fighting Eagles” Cadets Complete Final Land Navigation Lab of the Fall Quarter

Land Navigation Picture

By: Cadet Austin Bristow

On October 31st, the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) “Fighting Eagles” battalion conducted its third and final land navigation course for preparation for the upcoming Expert Fighting Eagle Badge test. The land navigation course was meant to be significantly more difficult than past lessons so leadership could assess the Cadets land navigation skills. In order to make the course more difficult, Cadets were encouraged to work alone so they could see where they are truly at. The course also had points significantly farther apart from one another so Cadets were forced to put more thought into planning a route.

Land Navigation Picture
Cadet James Dutton (left) plots points and Cadet Ian House (right) explains the course to other Fighting Eagles Cadets.

Cadets were truly put to the test. Many Cadets were seen using various land navigation fundamentals to change their route to the next point or just making sure they are at the point in accordance to the map. When asked about how the course was compared to previous ones, Cadet Caleb Bullard said, “This one was a real challenge, it felt more like a test rather than a lesson.”  Bullard also said, “I had a rough time, but was happy to see what I needed to work on.”

Land Navigation Picture
EWU Army ROTC Nursing Cadets, Jennafer Knight (left) and Kaylie Watters (right) conduct the land navigation course.

When the land navigation course ended a contracting ceremony was held for Cadet Crystal Cruz.  By contracting, Cadet Cruz after graduation will commission as Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.  As a contracted Cadet, she will also receive a $420 a month stipend and a $5,000 bonus for completing ROTC Basic Camp this past summer.   We are so excited for Cadet Cruz and her future in the United States Army!

Cruz contracting
Cadet Crystal Cruz contracts into the U.S. Army. Retired Army Major, Rob Riedel gives the Oath of Enlistment to Cadet Cruz.

Go Fighting Eags!

EWU ROTC Conducts Fall 2018 Basic Land Navigation Training

Cadets in the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program receive extensive training on basic land navigation.  Our land navigation training for the first year Cadets began last month during the field training phase of our Jump Start program.  This week’s leadership laboratory built on the skills learned during Jump Start and follow on classroom training.  During the lab Cadets validated their pace counts, practiced plotting grid points on a map, shooting azimuths with a compass, and finding points on a land navigation course.

Cadets Lucas McCune (left) and Emily Mahon (right) work to plot grid points on their map.

The lab was held in the wide open Palouse landscape east of the EWU campus.  The rolling Palouse terrain makes for perfect conditions to teach basic land navigation to Cadets.

Cadets find land navigation points in the Palouse plains East of the EWU campus.

The Junior and Senior Cadets during the lab taught basic land navigation skills to the freshman and sophomores.  Future land navigation training will occur in the wooded terrain to the east of Cheney that will add a further level of difficulty for the junior Cadets to better master their land navigation skills.  Learning 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 in the EWU ROTC program ensures that Cadets are ready to succeed at Advanced Camp.

Below are pictures from the basic land navigation lab:

Cadet Isabelle Erickson (center) listens to the basic land navigation instruction.

EWU ROTC Cadets plot grid points on their maps.

Cadets Everett Kuhnel (left) and Austin Bristow (right) use their compass to navigate towards their next point.

Cadet James Tallakson (left) provides instruction on how to properly use a compass to Cadet Isabell Erickson (right).

Cadet Maddie Woodland (right) walks through the Palouse wheat fields to find her next land navigation point.

Cadet Nicholas Null traverses the land navigation course.