By Spc. Ashley M. Outler, 28th Public Affairs Detachment

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. "Over 800 infantrymen in 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division challenged their expertise during an evaluation of their skills with aspirations of earning the prestigious Expert Infantryman Badge at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord, June 13-17.

At the end of the strenuous testing only 60 Soldiers were deemed expert infantrymen.

“To get the EIB you have train, work hard and earn it. It’s a very important milestone in an infantryman’s career,” said noncommissioned officer in-charge of the event Staff Sgt. Marko T. Milosevic, plans and operations NCO, 2-2 SBCT. “These guys have to be mentally switched-on and prepared to do the tasks, focus on the tasks and do it right. It’s definitely not easy. If you get a 10% pass rate you are on par with the rest of the infantry brigades in the Army.”

The candidates began preparation for the challenge months in advance and were given extensive field training in the week before testing.

“I’ve gotten more training in the last two weeks than I’ve probably had in my last year in the Army,” said Pvt. Samuel A. Gable, infantryman, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2-2 SBCT

The training evaluation required the Soldiers to complete testing in basic skill level tasks and to react appropriately in a variety of combat simulated scenarios.

“Everything that we are doing here is a part of our job, and every test shows how proficient we are at it. It’s challenging but I’m glad to be out here,” Gable added.

To begin the testing Soldiers were required to qualify expert with an M-4 carbine or M-16 assault rifle.

They then completed an Army Physical Fitness Test that required them to achieve a 75 percent or above in each event in order to progress to the next evaluation.

“The APFT got a lot of people because they are not used to completing it to an above normal standard,” said Milosevic.

Once meeting the standard in the APFT and height and weight the Soldiers were tested in day and night land navigation that required them to find three out of four points in two hours using the dead-reckoning technique to determine their starting point.

“The land navigation is pretty intense. If your not moving your not going to find your points and they are anywhere from 500 to 1000 meters apart at night. It’s not as easy as it sounds,” said Milosevic.

The next evaluation put the Soldiers through a diversity of timed scenarios within three different lanes including an urban lane, patrol lane and traffic control point.

“There are ten tasks in every lane for a total of 30 tasks,” said Milosevic. “Since we are a Stryker Brigade, we’ve added a lot of infantry Stryker tasks for our TCP lane.”

In order to be successful in the lanes, the Soldiers could not fail two or more of the 10 tasks or exceed a total of six no-go’s in the culmination of lanes.

“I think the lanes make it more realistic and more battle focused because instead of focusing on one task you’re looking at the entire thing as a whole and seeing it as a scenario rather than a task,” said Sgt. Haidang H. Le a squad leader in Bravo Company, 1-17th Inf., 2-2 SBCT. “I think it forces you to looked at it as a realistic situation especially throwing in the decision tasks.”

The final task required the infantrymen to pack 35-pound rucksacks and march 12 miles in three hours or less to reach the finish line and finally accomplish their goal of becoming expert infantrymen.

“It was tiring and exhausting but in the end all worth it. That last half mile I was just hurting everywhere, but when I saw that finish line and I saw everyone standing there, they started clapping and I just picked it up and started running towards it,” said Staff Sgt. Desmond H. Politini, squad leader, C Co., 1-17 Inf., 2-2 SBCT. “When I knew that I had made it, it was exhilarating and at the same time tiring. I feel proud to be apart of an elite group of Soldiers who can call themselves Expert Infantry Badge holders.”

After passing the finish line the 60 qualified infantrymen stood proudly as they were pinned the EIB and earned the title of infantry experts.

“It’s the one time in your career that you can prove that you are an expert in your profession, no other badge can really speak for itself in that way,” said Le.

Page last updated Wed June 22nd, 2011 at 13:18