CWU News

CWU Army ROTC cadets to show what they know at Yakima Training Center

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. 
“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.  “They’re the core competencies that are the foundational skills needed to build on for when they’re in the operational Army.” 
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. 
On Saturday, the freshman and sophomores will spend about half-a-day with the medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) aviation unit.
“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.” 
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. 
“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.”
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.
“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.” 
The training will also include an opposition force.
“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.”
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.
CWU Army ROTC unit is among 31 programs encompassing the 8th Brigade, which includes Washington, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Guam.
Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,
November 17, 2016