20190312 ROTC helicopter - LKenneally

GU ROTC program prepares to host annual Ranger Challenge on Oct. 24-26.


Spokane will host the task force round of the 2019-2020 ROTC Ranger Challenge Oct. 24-26. Gonzaga’s ROTC program will compete and hope to continue its tradition of high excellence in the competition. GU ROTC will face 11 other task force teams from around the West, including teams from Montana, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California.

Professor of military science and MSIV Senior Instructor Lt. Col. Edward Adams, along with Recruiting/Enrollment Officer and MSII Sophomore Instructor Lt. Col. (retired) Dr. Alan Westfield, have been at the forefront when it comes to training the potential competitors in the Ranger Challenge Team. Westfield coaches the students for the event, and describes the training for the Ranger Challenge as taking true focus and commitment.

“It’s a series of mentally and emotionally challenging events where a nine person team moves from point A to point B to point C, and are presented a challenge at each one of the sites,” Westfield said.

He emphasized the importance of teamwork, leadership development and problem solving when discussing the Ranger competition.

As tryouts for the nine-person task force come to a close, Westfield will look to pick the best people for the job. Members of the ROTC program voluntarily tried out for the team and have been training since the start of the school year. Along with large group events Monday, Wednesday and Friday, students have also been required to train on their own, from swimming to running to getting time in the weight room. 

“People prepared before they came,” Westfield said. “The team made a pact before school ended that they would workout over the summertime to come to school prepared to literally hit the ground running.”

In two of the past four years, Westfield said the GU ROTC program has gone to Westpoint for Sandhurst, which Adams described as the “Superbowl,” for ROTC programs. A total of 275 Army ROTC programs across the world compete to go to Sandhurst, where only eight of those 275 actually get the opportunity to compete for the Ranger Challenge. 

Westfield also notes the success of the GU ROTC program in the two rounds prior to Sandhurst, stating it won many task force and brigade championships dating back to the late 1980s and early ‘90s.

Although home field advantage may not seem like a big deal in some sports, home field advantage is the best thing that could happen for the GU ROTC program. The task force round will be held at Camp Seven Mile in Spokane, as well as parts in and around the Eastern Washington University campus.

“Our team is very familiar with that turf,” Adams said. “It gives them a tremendous advantage because they have seen the field and done tasks there thousands of times.”

Adams said that the biggest benefit to the ROTC organization is the recruitment factor for local high school students. All are invited to come to the Camp Seven Mile, and Adams hopes that high school students that come will be intrigued about the kind of people that are competing in these rigorous events.

“I think that there’s sort of a misperception on the part of many civilians as to what the Army does,” Adams said. “I think the more opportunity we have to show who we are, the better things will be for us.”

All are invited Oct. 24-26 to see the Ranger Challenge begin, as both Westfield and Adams continue to encourage attendance from the Spokane community, from fellow students watching their classmates to Spokane residents watching a college in their area compete at a high level. 

“There’s a quiet pride that these folks possess,” Westfield said. “These are quiet young people that are driven. They’re not out their thumping on their chests looking for attention. Those folks on that team will be going into the world’s best army in a time of persistent conflict when they graduate.”



Vinny Saglimbeni is a staff writer. 

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