Sixty infantrymen from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, and three infantrymen from two other "Big Red One" brigades recently earned the right to wear the Expert Infantryman Badge and call themselves experts in their profession.

"If you completed the EIB, congratulations," said Command Sgt. Maj. Wylie Hutchison, senior enlisted adviser, "Dragon" Brigade. "You showed that you were able to go out and meet the challenge and you got after it. I am proud of all of you that made it. Now that you have achieved the title of an expert infantryman, your challenge is to teach and guide your Soldiers and peers so they can come out and get their EIB next time."

The testing took place from June 24 to 28 and the Soldiers were tested on a number of individual tasks that related directly to their military professions as infantrymen.

Soldiers took an Army Physical Fitness Test, completed day and night land-navigation courses, tested on more than 30 infantryman tasks and completed a 12-mile road march with 35-pound rucksacks on their backs in less than three hours.

"The EIB is a badge of excellence," Hutchison said. "It shows that an infantryman has mastered a series of tasks and accomplishments to prove that he is an expert infantryman … it is a badge of honor. It shows the rest of the infantry community, as well as the other Soldiers in the Army, that the Soldier has mastered his military occupation specialty and profession."

Before the sun rose on June 24, 420 Soldiers stood ready to complete the APFT. During which, the Soldiers were graded with strict standards to ensure only the best moved on to the next phase of testing.

Soldiers who earned a passing score moved on to the land navigation course. Soldiers used compasses, maps, protractors and pencils to find points scattered throughout the prairie and woodlands of Fort Riley. Soldiers were tested during the day and at night with no light to aid them in their search for points. Many didn't make it past the land navigation tasks.

Soldiers who still remained on the second day were tested on three lanes each Soldier cycled through during a three-day period. Each lane had 10 different tasks they were required to excel in to make it to the next day of testing. Tasks ranged from weapons tasks like clearing, malfunctions checks and loading various systems to basic first aid rendered on extremities, abdominal and head wounds - all under duress.

Seventy-seven Soldiers who had the skill and ability to make it to the final task - the road march - set off on foot the final day of testing. With their packs on their backs, they set off into the dark, moving quickly to accomplish the requirement - completing in less than three hours.

In the end, only 63 of the 420 received their badges.

"It's a proud moment," said 1st Lt. Nicholas Broussard, Company C, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT. "It's a series of hard tasks that must be accomplished under time constraints and it's culminated by a 12-mile road march, which is pretty hard. The Soldiers that do it earned it. They should be proud to wear it and then they should take their knowledge back to their units and teach their Soldiers, peers and others in the infantry community."