19 November 2007

358 Soldiers earn Expert Infantryman Badge at North Fort Lewis

Spc. Chad Sage, left, and Sgt. Stephen Jenkins, both of A Co., 4-23 Inf., camouflage themselves and equipment during EIB testing on North Fort Lewis. Photo Jason Kaye.

From the Northwest Guardian:

Leaders in 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division set their sights high for the Expert Infantryman Badge last week and their Soldiers reaped the rewards in hardware.

The U.S. Army Infantry School puts the average percentage of Soldiers who pass rigorous EIB testing at somewhere near 30 percent. But the NCOs of 5th Brigade didn’t see themselves as average.

By powering down the instruction and focusing for two weeks on the mission, more than 47 percent of the Soldiers in the three battalions who underwent testing earned the coveted EIBs. ...

The result by the end of the week was 358 new expert infantrymen of the 757 candidates who began.

The EIB was created in October 1943 and first awarded to Soldiers at Fort Bragg in March 1944. Only Soldiers holding infantry or special forces specialties are eligible to earn the award, a distinctive silver infantry musket on a rectangular blue background with a silver border.

The badge sets apart the Soldier as an infantryman who knows his job well. ...

Soldiers navigate through 34 tasks performed at 11 stations. “They have to get a ‘go’ on the station and they only get two tries, pass or fail, and if they fail both, they’re gone,” [brigade operations NCO, Master Sgt. Stan] Sobiech said. “You have to pass the performance measures at each station. If you don’t, you receive a double no-go and you’re out. A third means they’re done.”

Soldiers carrying two no-go’s are know as “blade runners,” he said. “I was one myself, and I earned my EIB.” ...

“It’s up to the squad leader to train all these individual tasks,” he said. “You might train a guy on the squad automatic weapon, but he doesn’t know the 240 (machine gun) until he becomes a 240 gunner. They don’t get that in basic. Out here, every Joe gets experience on every gun.”

Predictably, the weapons-heavy red lane proved most difficult for EIB candidates. But the single event generating the most no-go’s, said Sobiech, was the grenade throw, with its unforgiving margin for error. “This is the station that actually takes a lot of the people out of the fight,” said 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment operations NCO, Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sweezer. “You’ve got to throw it 25 meters into a small fighting position.”

Whether Soldiers earned EIBs or not, brigade and battalion leaders saw training benefit in the EIB process.

One of the new expert infantrymen is SA Robin's son, David. Here's a photo of them during David's homecoming from Iraq in August 2006.

Congratulations, David from all of us at SA!

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