CWUArmy NewsArmy News Army ROTC cadets back from successful weekend training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, 21 May 2019 17:03:35<p><img alt="CWU cadet leave helicopter at training" src="" style="width: 350px; height: 211px; margin: 3px; float: right;">A battalion of CWU Army ROTC cadets are back in Ellensburg following a rigorous four-day spring field training exercise (FTX).</p><p>“It was great training; all objectives were met,” said an obviously pleased Major Bonnie Kovatch, CWU’s Army ROTC detachment commander.</p><p>Typically, the FTX has taken place at the Yakima Training Center. But it was unavailable this year because of the needs of operational Army units. Fortunately, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) had available space, which actually worked out better for the CWU cadets.</p><p><img alt="Some of the CWU cadets involved in training" src="" style="width: 300px; height: 402px; margin: 3px; float: right;">“As compared to the desert scenario at the Yakima Training Center, one of the benefits of being at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was that it gave us an opportunity to more closely replicate the environment that our [junior] cadets will see during their summer training at Fort Knox, Kentucky,” noted Kovatch. “The terrain was extremely challenging; many cadets had never ‘broken brush’ before, and the weather did not always cooperate. That forced them to rely on their mental toughness and use all of the gear and equipment they brought.”&nbsp;</p><p>Among the cadets was junior Justin Lester from Chewelah, who was participating in his third spring FTX, but his first at JBLM.</p><p>“It’s a whole different animal to go out into the field and to live out of your pack for a couple of days,” he said. “We ate MREs (meals ready to eat), there wasn’t any hot food, we were always on the move, always anticipating that something might happen. It’s just an entirely different experience from what you’d expect being a college student.”&nbsp;</p><p>The Army National Training Center scenario the cadets faced involved American troops being called in to aid an allied nation in overcoming a rogue force. The exercise began Thursday when the cadets were flown to the training site by three Washington Army National Guard helicopters.</p><p>Sophomore Maria Lubag, from Lacey, was on her first spring field training exercise, of which the helicopter trip had additional significance.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>“In the Army, I see myself going aviation,” she said. “I had never gotten into a Blackhawk, or any type of military aircraft [before].”&nbsp;</p><p>To make the training more realistic, the cadets were issued all of their equipment before they got to JBLM, Kovatch explained.</p><p>“They were flying in that helicopter just as they would if they had been deployed in a real-world environment,” she continued. “They had their pack on their lap, weapon between their legs, Kevlar on their head, ear pro in their ears. They were in the scenario by the time we got on that bird. The thrill of the aviation aspect came through even during the infill (loading) and exfill (unloading) of the event. It motivated everyone—myself included.”&nbsp;</p><p>During the training, the rogue force opposing the CWU Army cadets was partially comprised by their peer cadets from the university’s Air Force ROTC program.</p><p>“The 18 participating Air Force Cadets were fantastic,” Kovatch noted. “They love to volunteer to help us with our training. They were deliberate in all of their engagements with the Army cadets and provided valuable feedback on where they could improve in their tactical movements, particularly sight and noise discipline.”</p><p><img alt="CWU cadet looking through rifle scope" src="" style="width: 300px; height: 432px; margin: 3px; float: right;">The four-day training, which was entirely planned by CWU senior Army ROTC cadets over the last five months, evaluated cadets on the lessons, tactics, and theory they have learned throughout the year in the classroom and the leadership labs held around campus during the year were put into practice.</p><p>“I’m confident the MS IVs (seniors) are ready to commission and lead soldiers,” Kovatch stated. “I know the MS IIIs (juniors) will perform well at Cadet Summer Training.&nbsp; And it’s apparent the underclassmen pushed themselves beyond their preconceived limits and grew both as individuals and as a team. The cadets are going to be talking about the Spring 2019 FTX for years!”</p><p>Kovatch noted that much of her cadets’ success is due to the academic rigor, along with the physical demands, of the award-winning military science minor offered by CWU. The just completed training served as a capstone for graduating seniors who will receive their Central degrees and second lieutenant commissioning just weeks from now.</p><p>It’s been a busy year for the Central cadets. They have also trained alongside the 1st Special Forces Group and Second Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, which are both recognized as elite Army operational forces. After that training, the CWU cadets indicated they saw active-duty troops doing exactly what was being taught in the university classroom.</p><p>“For me, those comments just solidified that we have a Class A cadre and that we are stewards of the profession, that we are training to standard and doctrine, and that we are building resilience and confidence into our cadets so that they do step out into the operational force as better lieutenants,” Kovatch added.</p><p>Lester concurred, adding, “When you are in this type of organization it’s, more or less, a family. And I have really felt that, since day one, that it’s an organization that can support and nurture you, regardless of your goals, and it’s something you can be part of that’s bigger than yourself.”&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Media contact:</strong> Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,</p>CWU Speaker Series Debut Presentation Calculates the True Cost of War, 06 Mar 2019 08:19:40<p><img alt="" src="" style="width: 350px; height: 197px; margin: 3px; float: right;">Phil Klay knows the complicated emotions that play out whenever a member of the United States military completes a deployment. The author of <em>Redeployment</em>, Klay will visit CWU on Saturday, March 9 as the inaugural speaker in the university’s new Lt. General Terry Robling Speaker Series.</p><p>Klay’s work is a collection of 12 short stories that take readers to the front lines of the Iraq war and back. His book explores issues of faith, fault, fear, and ferocity that soldiers experience during war, along with the sense of despondency and loneliness that accompany many when they get home.</p><p>“From the outset, I always knew that I was writing a collection, that it was going to have a variety of voices, and that they were going to explore different aspects of the Iraq war experience,” Klay said. “I think that is an important part of coming to terms with your own experiences. It’s not just about looking into yourself but also trying to find ways to communicate with other people. I really don’t think you understand yourself, or what you’ve been through until you’re able to communicate it to another human being.”</p><p>Major Bonnie Kovatch, CWU military science professor and chair of CWU’s award-winning Army ROTC Department will interview Klay during the free, public presentation, which begins at 11:00 a.m. in CWU’s McConnell Auditorium.</p><p>“Mr. Klay gives voice to the true struggle of military veterans and his reflections challenge us to examine both our personal and professional identities,” added Kovatch. “Central’s Military Science program is committed to developing leaders of character to serve the nation through both field-training and academic exercises. In that regard, I appreciate the space Mr. Klay’s work creates for our cadets and anyone—in or out of uniform—to engage on a topic as complex and emotional as war.”</p><p><em><img alt="" src="" style="width: 150px; height: 226px; margin: 3px; float: right;">Redeployment</em> was ranked as one of the New York Times’ “Ten Best Books of 2014.” It also received the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for “a best first book published in any genre”; and the American Library Association’s 2015 W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction.</p><p>The new university speaker series is named for Robling, a retired three-star Marine Corps general and CWU alumnus. Now the Chief Executive Officer of PKL Services in Poway, California, Robling was also honored with a 2017 <a href="" target="_blank">CWU Distinguished Alumni Award</a>.</p><p>“It’s been an honor to work with Lt. General Robling, and Central’s development office to bring Mr. Klay to campus,” said Major Bonnie Kovatch, Military Science Professor and Chair of CWU’s award-winning Army ROTC Department.</p><p>Following this presentation, Klay will be on-hand for a noon book-signing of his work, copies of which will be available at McConnell Auditorium. It’s sponsored by the CWU Army ROTC Wildcat Detachment,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">College of Education and Professional Studies</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">CWU Veterans Center</a>, and the <a href="" target="_blank">Wildcat Shop</a>.</p><p><strong>Media contact:</strong> Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,</p>CWU cadets climb cliff to complete contracts, 05 Oct 2017 16:06:52<p><br><img alt="2017 CWU Army ROTC Oath of Enlistment ceremony on Manastash Ridge" src="/army/sites/" style="width: 450px; margin: 3px; float: right; height: 270px;"><a href="">A dramatic sunrise</a> was the backdrop for 15 United States Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) students from CWU who took the Oath of Enlistment this morning, during a ceremony atop Manastash Ridge.<br><br>The oath was administered by Colonel Jon Tussing, the commander of the US Army Cadet Command’s 8th Brigade, headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma. This is the second consecutive year he has participated in Central's&nbsp;contract-signing ceremony.<br><br>“This was something that made an impact on me, the way the program does it here,” acknowledged Tussing. “I shared it with all the other programs and the commander of cadet command. There are similar events and a lot of different ways that you can do this ceremony, but the way they highlight it here at Central is very special and significant. It was great that I was able to be out here and see this and be a part of it.”<br><br>During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss, the CWU battalion commander, told those taking the oath, and their fellow cadet sponsors, that this will be a day they will long remember.</p><p>“Sometimes, we have to measure success in smiles,” added Ackiss, “and to see you coming together as a team and smiling today means we’re doing something right.”<br><br>All of the participating cadets, along with Tussing, Ackiss, and the other CWU detachment officers, made the steep two-mile hike for the sunrise ceremony, to the top of the ridge at a memorial point, about 2,800 feet in elevation.<br><br>“This hike was really just an embodiment of our battalion’s spirit—it’s a part of our identity,” pointed out Justin Lester, from Chewelah, who was among those completing a cadet contract today. “When we become officers, we have to set a standard for our soldiers. Part of that is creating an environment that we can all foster into a family&nbsp;because that’s how we can operate to the best of our abilities.”<br><br>While enrolling in the Army ROTC Basic Course does not involve a military commitment, the ceremony was for the formal induction of the Army ROTC students into the program. It will include a scholarship for the students in exchange for an agreement to complete a service term with the Army.<br><br>“Contracting is a lot of weight, but it’s liberating at the same time,” Lester continued. “It’s being a part of the family.”<br><br>The CWU Army ROTC program, called the “Wildcat Battalion,” in honor of the university's mascot, has been nationally ranked in recent years. It is among 30 Army ROTC 8th brigade programs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam, and 275 across the United States.<br><br><strong>Media contact: </strong>Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,</p><p>&nbsp;</p></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br>CWU represented among US military personnel training in Mongolia, 01 Sep 2017 09:28:10<p><img alt="CWU Army ROTC detachment commander, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss involved in leadership engagement activity in Mongolia" src="/army/sites/" style="width: 500px; height: 333px; margin: 3px; float: right;">When it comes to, “How I spent my summer vacation,” it would be pretty hard to top Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss’ experience.</p><p>The CWU Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) detachment commander traveled about 5,200 miles to Mongolia, where he led 31 nationally-selected ROTC cadets, from as far away as Guam and Washington D.C., and four other officers in a joint training operation.</p><p>Ackiss was chosen for the role by <a href="">Army ROTC 8th brigade</a> officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Tacoma.</p><p>“The 8th brigade was involved in three missions this year: Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia,” Ackiss said. “I was assigned to Mongolia after I served as the executive officer last year. That meant I went through the planning process and helped design the mission for the cadets, but did not travel with them.”</p><p>Ackiss made his first ever visit to Mongolia in February when he designed and set up the mission ahead of the exercise, which took place in June and July.</p><p>“It was definitely a different culture, a different way of life, different financial considerations, for sure,” Ackiss acknowledged, adding that the training helped to “reinforce the importance of having globally aware [US] officers. The sooner you start that, the better they’re going to be.</p><p>“The majority of the cadets on the mission were sophomores,” he continued. “So, it will shape how they see the world, and how they see their training and help them refocus on what it means to be an Army officer operating in a global setting.”</p><p>Conversely, members of the 10,000-member Mongolian army were looking to get insight and instruction in English and American culture, Ackiss said.</p><p>“They wanted less formal classroom training and more small-group interactions,” Ackiss explained. “So, we partnered one or two cadets with two or three Mongolians to ‘just talk.’ This was the fourth year that the cadets have gone there, and they [the Mongolians] look forward to it. They realize that they benefit from and appreciate the relationship they’ve developed with the Americans.”</p><p>Despite the fact that Ackiss will, likely, not have the chance to again work with any of the cadets he led in Mongolia, they will take some of what they learned from him back to their respective units.</p><p>“I will always see them as my cadets,” Ackiss said. “I think I take for granted the culture that we have here at Central, how we treat our cadets and how we treat our people. I’ve received some very nice follow-up emails from the cadets, saying that what they received from me in a very short (30-day) period of time is going to have a long-term impact. But, if you don’t take advantage of the ability to have some ‘ownership’ of a young person, you’re really missing an opportunity.”</p><p>Ackiss says the interaction he had also validated that he, and other members of the CWU leadership cadre, are doing things right with the Wildcat Battalion.</p><p>“We’re trying to look forward and do some unique things, and fill training or technical gaps with our cadets,” he added.</p><p>This year, about 30 freshmen and about 75 cadets total will participate in CWU’s ROTC program, while taking military science classes, in the department’s new home in the remodeled Lind Hall.</p><p><strong>Media contact: </strong>Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,</p><p><strong>Photo:</strong> CWU Army ROTC detachment commander, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss (third from left) involved in a leadership engagement activity in Mongolia.</p>Military helicopter transports CWU Army ROTC students, 18 May 2017 17:10:02<p><img alt="" src="/army/sites/" style="width: 400px; margin: 3px; height: 267px; float: right;">A Boeing CH-47 helicopter landed at Bowers Field, in Ellensburg, this afternoon to transport Central Washington University Army ROTC cadets to their spring field exercise at the Yakima Training Center.</p><p>“It was about an hour-long process from start to finish,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ackiss, CWU Army ROTC detachment commander and military science professor, about the precision landing, loading, and take-off procedure. “This is just another way for us to provide our cadets with as realistic training as possible, to help prepare them for actual Army operations.”</p><p>The Washington National Guard whirlybird came from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma.</p><p>“We’re fortunate to have a good relationship with the National Guard,” Ackiss said, noting his thanks to the National Guard for its assistance. “It was also a thrill for our cadets to get to fly in the helicopter, as it was the first time [doing so] for most of them.”&nbsp;</p><p>In two shifts, the chopper took about 60 participating cadets to a drop-off location near the Columbia River. Over the course of the next three days, the cadets will march to a site near I-90 before returning to campus.</p><p>“They’ll be conducting patrols, and practicing other maneuvers, through Sunday,” Ackiss explained about the twice-a-year training. “And they will bivouac [camp] out under the stars.”</p><p>The twin-engine Chinook helicopter is primarily used for troop and artillery movement, along with resupply undertakings. Despite debuting in 1961, they remain among the heaviest lifting and fastest models in the United States’s military arsenal.</p><p><strong>Media contact: </strong>Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,</p><p>May 18, 2017</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="/army/sites/" style="width: 400px; height: 600px;"></p>Program Coordinator Sigrid Welker Honored, 15 May 2017 14:07:15<p>We are happy to announce that Mrs. Sigrid Welker who serves as the CWU Army ROTC Program Coordinator was honored as "Outstanding Staff" at the CWU College of Education and Professional Studies End-of-Year Celebration.</p>Two CWU Army ROTC alumni graduate from United States Army Ranger School, 06 Apr 2017 15:32:25<p>Two Central Washington University military science degree recipients are among the most recent graduates of the prestigious United States Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga.</p><p>Second Lieutenant Hauke Harfst, a 2016 CWU alumnus, and Captain Victor McKenzie, 2010, completed the 61-day program, which encompasses the military’s most elite training. Just half of the enrolled students successfully complete the arduous, three-phase course that exhausts their emotional, mental, and physical limits.</p><p>At CWU, Harfst and McKenzie prepared for their military careers through their involvement with the university’s award-winning Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.</p><p>“When we learn about our former students achieving such elite levels of success, it shows that we are doing exactly what’s needed in preparing them for careers in military service,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss, CWU military science department chair, and head of the Army ROTC detachment.<br><br>Established in 1981, the nationally regarded CWU Army ROTC “Wildcat Battalion,” named for the university’s mascot, consistently produces distinguished military graduates, such as Harfst and McKenzie.<br>&nbsp;<br>They were also part of the detachment’s Ranger Challenge squad. The CWU unit participates, and often, wins, at the Task Force Pacific Northwest competition at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma. The annual challenge, known as the ROTC’s Super Bowl, involves competing units from colleges and universities throughout the western United States and beyond.<br><br>CWU’s Ranger Challenge team also earned international distinction through winning its way into the 2012 International Sandhurst Competition, held at the West Point (New York) Military Academy, against active duty and reserve military units from around the world. CWU cadets topped all ROTC teams at that event, not to mention peers from the United State Air Force, Coast Guard and Naval academies.<br><br>Harfst, a native of Yakima, who also served as the Associated Students of CWU vice president for Academic Affairs, and McKenzie, from Sumner, who played for the CWU men’s rugby team, will now be stationed with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis. McKenzie previously served in Afghanistan.<br><br><strong>Media contact:</strong> Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,</p><p>April 6, 2017</p></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br>The Wildcat Battalion Winter 2017 Newsletter is out!!!, 12 Jan 2017 10:21:24<p>The Winter 2017 Wildcat Battalion Newsletter is out. Follow the link below to get up to speed on the latest happenings with CWU Army ROTC.</p><p></p>The Wildcat Battalion Winter 2017 Newsletter is out!!!, 12 Jan 2017 10:21:22<p>The Winter 2017 Wildcat Battalion Newsletter is out. Follow the link below to get up to speed on the latest happenings with CWU Army ROTC.</p><p></p>CWU Army ROTC cadets to show what they know at Yakima Training Center, 17 Nov 2016 16:39:38<p><img alt="" src="/army/sites/" style="width: 375px; height: 226px; border-width: 3px; border-style: solid; margin: 3px; float: right;">Nearly 90 Central Washington University’s Army ROTC cadets will visit the Yakima Training Center (YTC) Friday through Sunday, to demonstrate the competencies they’re developed and concepts they’re conquered through their studies with the university’s award-winning military science program.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>“It’s about tying together all they things they’re been learning and doing on campus,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ackiss, CWU military science professor.&nbsp; “They’re the core competencies that are the foundational skills needed to build on for when they’re in the operational Army.”&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>It’s one of the twice-annual, field-training exercises for the cadets, who will be being members of either the freshman-sophomore, or junior-senior contingents. Developing and demonstrating skills in daytime and nighttime land navigation, communications, medical basics, and tactics will comprise much of the weekend’s work.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>On Saturday, the freshman and sophomores will spend about half-a-day with the medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) aviation unit.<br>&nbsp;<br>“They’ll transition into how to load causalities into a helicopter,” said Ackiss, who leads the Wildcat Battalion. “We call it hot-load and cold-load training. So, they’ll do it without the helicopter operating and then with it running. It will, probably, be the first experience for a lot of them to get close to a Blackhawk [helicopter] when the blades are spinning.”&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>While this will be the first field training for the large, 27-member ROTC freshman class, the stakes are somewhat higher for the 20 juniors now in the program.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>“For them, it’s definitely a test,” Ackiss pointed out. “The junior year is crucial in that it is when they’re getting their final assessments. Based on their performances during their junior years, it will determine if they become active duty or reserve, and whether they get their top choices of the 17 career fields the Army offers. Their performances this weekend will definitely link to their ratings.”<br>&nbsp;<br>The proximity of the world-class, 327,000-acre YTC within close proximity to the CWU campus allow for the cadets to experience much more life-like training, as a way to ensure they are properly prepared for exactly what they may soon experience.<br>&nbsp;<br>“The terrain is much more open and it replicates the Afghanistan environment very well—not in an urban but definitely in a rural context,” Ackiss pointed out. “It eliminates the distractions of traffic, buildings, and other people walking around. We can’t replicate it here on campus.”&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>The training will also include an opposition force.<br>&nbsp;<br>“We’re also taking about 15 [CWU] Air Force ROTC cadets,” Ackiss pointed out. “They’ll serve in the ‘bad guy’ role during our tactical training.”<br>&nbsp;<br>Through offering such top-quality training, the CWU Army ROTC program has consistently produced distinguished military graduates, been nationally ranked—including winning the prestigious MacArthur Award for Best Medium Battalion—and as the "Most Outstanding" Battalion among 273 units nationwide.<br>&nbsp;<br>CWU Army ROTC unit is among 31 programs encompassing the 8th Brigade, which includes Washington, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Guam.<br>&nbsp;<br><strong>Media contact: </strong>Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,<br>&nbsp;<br>November 17, 2016</p></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br>