Cadet Northern Warfare Competition 2021

05/06/2021  |  Capt. Dorian Oleksak Assistant Professor of Military Science, 4th Battalion, 414th Regiment, SROTC
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Snow, ice, and below-freezing temperatures were no match for the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets during the Northern Warfare Challenge that was hosted by the ROTC Eagle Battalion at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

The rigorous event tested the endurance and strength of 29 ROTC teams, including an Air Force ROTC team flying from Boston College. Temperatures dropped to -14 degrees during weigh-in of the team rucks, and -1 degree at the start line. This challenge is like no other in Cadet Command. The difficult event was designed to test the skill and endurance of the Cadets as they marched 16 miles through Hixon Forest that covers over 3,500 feet of elevation in low temperatures and high winds.

The competitors were mentally and physically challenged over several events that included a 45-pound ruck march, knot-tying, fire starting, marksmanship competition, and a written examination.

Rumored to be the hardest event in ROTC, the event is only successful for the Cadets if they work together to accomplish tasks in complex terrain in a cold-weather environment. It also creates that camaraderie and competition between schools where a healthy competition breeds excellence.

Due to the deliberate planning by Eagle Battalion, the large-scale event maintained strict COVID-19 protocols and considerations, with medical stations staffed by nurses from Viterbo University, while checkpoints, stations, and scoring and the tactical operations center were run by others within the Eagle Battalion.

In support of the challenge, fourteen Troop Program Unit (TPU) Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 414th Infantry Regiment Senior ROTC (SROTC) 1ST Brigade, 104th Division (LT) supported the Cadets through preparation, training, and execution of the event. In preparation, the Army Reserve Soldiers from the 4-414th SROTC provided classroom instruction in the form of lectures and written tests. Those same Soldiers provided experience and guidance in leadership labs, where theory is put into practical application in subjects such as land navigation, rifle marksmanship, and even cold weather training.

At the end of the weekend, the Eagle Battalion from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Wisconsin, team won the Northern Warfare Challenge. Second place was earned by the Fighting Saints team from Saint John’s University ROTC, Minnesota. Third place was taken by the 1st Arctic Battalion team from the Michigan Technological University ROTC.

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