CWU News

CWU represented among US military personnel training in Mongolia

When it comes to, “How I spent my summer vacation,” it would be pretty hard to top Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss’ experience.

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.

Ackiss was chosen for the role by Army ROTC 8th brigade officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Tacoma.

“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.”

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.

“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.

“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.”

Conversely, members of the 10,000-member Mongolian army were looking to get insight and instruction in English and American culture, Ackiss said.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

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.

“We’re trying to look forward and do some unique things, and fill training or technical gaps with our cadets,” he added.

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.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

Photo: CWU Army ROTC detachment commander, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ackiss (third from left) involved in a leadership engagement activity in Mongolia.