Wildcat Battalion Among World’s Best
The Wildcat Battalion’s mission is to recruit, teach, coach, mentor, and commission outstanding scholars, athletes, and leaders who possess character and conviction to proudly serve our nation. The CWU Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program is known as the Wildcat Battalion, in recognition of the university’s mascot. Established in 1981, it became its own independent program six years later. Through CWU’s Military Science program, freshman- through senior-year ROTC cadets learn from a curriculum involving classes in ethics, land navigation, leadership, management, military conditioning, “officership,” problem solving, small group tactics, and teamwork. Since its inception, the program has consistently produced outstanding “scholarathlete-leaders.” Through the end of the last academic year, the Wildcat Battalion had commissioned a total of 338 second lieutenants. Based on performance, this past year’s class may have included some of the top cadets ever. The Wildcat Battalion was among 55 of the best military units from around the world that arrived in West Point, New York last April. Comprised of some of the most physically fit and well-trained soldiers in the world—including international squads from Australia, Canada, China, Chile, England, and Spain—they came to the US Military Academy to compete in the 46th annual Sandhurst Competition. The single-day competition involves 10 events that include boat movement, an obstacle course, rappelling down a drop of up to 75 feet, combat casualty first aid and evacuation, marksmanship, weapons assembly and grenade throwing, land navigation, rope-bridge building, an encounter with an mock improvised-explosive device involving radio assembly and communication, and the Department of Military Instruction (DMI) challenge. Team captain Sean Flanagan, a 2012 CWU graduate from Cle Elum, said the DMI event was designed to make participants think on their feet, as competitors had to move a 15,000-pound piece of field artillery. “We had to figure out how to move it through a course, set it at an exact angle, move it back, and reset it,” said Flanagan, who added that the team managed to stay loose in spite of the pressure of the competition. “Two cadets crawled out to the end of the Howitzer to act as counter weights and the rest us lifted on the wheel base and rolled it.” While not among the most heralded teams when the competition began, CWU beat all other ROTC units, including cadets from the Citadel, and squads from the Air Force, Coast Guard, and Naval academies. The Wildcat Battalion finished 13th overall in the competition—one of the highest finishes ever for an ROTC unit. Major Jay Cook, who served as the unit’s training officer, said a key to CWU’s success was that the cadets gelled as a team quickly and completely. “The best equipment, the most talented individuals, and the most elite institutional reputation can’t make up for the lack of camaraderie and hard work,” said Cook. “Some schools cultivate individuals; CWU creates amazing teams—and that gives us a remarkable edge when we go into competition.” (Top two photos) The Ranger Challege competition was held at Joint Base Lewis McChord where the CWU team placed first. The win advanced them to the International Sandhurst Competition at West Point (bottom two photos).
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