SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- For every infantryman, the testing phase for the coveted Expert Infantry Badge serves as a rite of passage for the ground driving force of the United States Army. For Infantry Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, the honor of being recognized as a true infantryman was given through the brigade's EIB testing at East Range here, Jun 20-25.

"The Expert Infantry Badge is the mark of a true infantryman. The testing itself is great for Soldiers' professional development and professional growth within the infantry. The true testament of an infantryman is to attain the badge," said Command Sgt. Maj. Tony Marrero, 3BCT command sergeant major, who earned his EIB in the beginning of his Army career.

The 3BCT, guided by Sgt. Maj. Santiago Hernandez, brigade plans sergeant major, implemented the new standards of the EIB course. In the former rendition, there were 30 tasks, each of which a Soldier would study for and then complete. This way of testing did not fully simulate how an infantryman would have to react in a combat environment, so new standards were created.

Now three realistic battle focused lanes give Soldiers scenarios which test their ability to adapt to a changing situation, which holds true to what they would experience in combat, according to Marrero.

To participate in the fully noncommissioned-officer-ran EIB course, however, specific stipulations first had to be met. A Soldier could not be flagged for disciplinary reasons and had to pass an Army Physical Fitness Test with 75 points in each event according to his age category.

Additional requirements were the completion of day and night land navigation and qualifying as an expert, shooting 36 out of 40 rounds into a target with their assigned M4 or M16 assault rifle. A 12 mile road march with a 35 pound rucksack on their back served as the final requirement, before the rigorous EIB training and testing.

Once qualified, Soldiers entered EIB training and testing which challenged them on the basic infantryman's fundamentals; their ability to shoot, move and communicate.

Infantry Soldiers, in full battle rattle and assigned weapon, underwent various combat scenarios geared to hone their skills. One such lane challenged an infantry Soldier, while taking enemy fire, to stabilize and bandage an injured casualty, correct a malfunctioned M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and finish with a 35 meter grenade launch which had to land within five meters of an enemy target.

Infantrymen underwent three lanes each, 10 different scenarios and had to remember all tasks and techniques before starting each lane. This showcased each Soldier's ability to retain important information during the rigors of combat.

A unique feature of the brigade's EIB certification included a separate training and testing event which mirrored the EIB. Noncombat military occupational specialty Soldiers of the brigade were tested on the same tasks the infantry were tested on in what was called Warrior Task Training.

Though they did not receive a badge, a certificate was given to Soldiers who completed the tasks. Also Soldiers gained the confidence of having completed many of the same tasks as infantrymen competing for their EIB.

Soldiers who completed the course received encouraging words from a very special speaker at the EIB ceremony where Soldiers were presented their EIB awards.

"No one is a loser; however, for those who exceed the standard of their peers, I commend you. I charge you to go back to your squads and teams and use the skills you know to build your comrades, so that you will be successful in combat," said Jerry McKinney, retired sergeant major and honorary sergeant major from the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16