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JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON -- Spc. Jeremy Walker, A Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), shows a fellow Soldier how to turn the barrel of the M240B machine gun while practicing assembling and disassembling the weapon. Walker is part of a group of Soldiers who were training for their Expert Infantry Badge, Feb. 22.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Soldiers from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson received training Feb. 22-24, to prepare to test for the Expert Infantry Badge.

The EIB represents the understanding of basic infantry tasks, according to Staff Sgt. Ian McGlocklyn, an infantry Soldier with Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, and an EIB training instructor.

McGlocklyn specifically challenged Soldiers on radio operation information in his training Aca,!A..lane.

"It's about our ability to accomplish ... (numerous) tasks and be proficient in those tasks and drills," McGlocklyn said.

The EIB may only be worn by infantry and Special Forces troops, McGlocklyn said. The badge is difficult to obtain, with only a small percentage of troops that take the test passing, McGlocklyn said.

Some of the drills include using an Advanced System Improvement Program radio, using M-60 or M-240B machine guns, basic first aid, correctly using protective masks, performing individual camouflage, moving under direct fire, identifying terrain features on a map and employing hand Aca,!A..grenades.

"A lot of (what we're doing) is the training we do behind the scenes prior to the EIB testing," said Sgt. Darrin Jolly, Company A, 1-501st.

The tasks are important for any Soldier to know, especially considering the Army's full-spectrum operations, McGlocklyn said.

But for infantry Soldiers, he said, "this is our bread and butter."

McGlocklyn said he remembers the pressure and fear of failure he had when taking the test as a private in 2005.

"I knew it was really important to (earn the badge), to know these things; but it was the first time that I'd seen some of it and actually applied it."

McGlocklyn says the test and the training for it has improved since 2005.

"They've gone to the new three-lane (EIB course) where they take 10 or so tasks and put them into a long stream and a combined action together," McGlocklyn said.

"It's actually applied and more (like) real life. It seems the intent was to make it more legitimate and important to the Soldier, because now they see how combined all these things together will actually make a mission in a sense."

McGlocklyn said he had his share of moments in which the training he received for the EIB came in handy during missions.

"Now I realize that I was taught all these things so that I could be successful in the real world. Even before the EIB I was learning this stuff because of its importance," McGlocklyn said.

The EIB training the troops are doing now is important, time wise, since the Army does year long deployments and it's rare for infantrymen to find the time to acquire their EIB, Jolly said.

McGlocklyn said he wished more Soldiers were required to take the course, because he feels everyone can benefit from it, not just infantrymen.

"It'd be beneficial if a lot more (Soldiers) were involved, so when they're actually downrange it's not the first time they see a .50-caliber machine gun or a Mark 19 or a radio," he said.

"Even a little course here will give you a little confidence in your ability to use it."

The ability to use the information will be put to the test when the Soldiers test for the EIB; for the infantry Soldiers a little pride may be on the line as well.

"I've been in the Army for a while now and I'd like to be able to get that badge," Jolly said.

"I want to show that I am an expert infantryman that I can do my tasks at the expert level."

"I remember doing this as a private and I had really good leadership," McGlocklyn said.

"Hopefully I can give that back to my Soldiers so that they're successful in doing this. I'd like to see 100 percent of my guys getting their EIB."

Page last updated Thu March 10th, 2011 at 12:56