WARRIOR BASE, South Korea -- The Expert Infantry Badge makes a powerful statement and represents a great accomplishment by infantrymen throughout the U.S. Army.
More than 400 infantry Soldiers from 2nd Infantry Division took part in the rigorous testing held by 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team at Warrior Base Sept. 13 to 27.
The challenge presents an opportunity for infantrymen to reach a legendary status that not all combat Soldiers can earn. A lot of the Soldiers who tested for the EIB are already recognized for their infantry skills.
"It's not about recognition for me. It's about proving to myself that I can become an expert in any field that I choose," said Sgt. Adam Sanborn, Company A, 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, 1st ABCT, 2nd Inf. Div.
Even though most infantrymen strive to earn the badge, EIB testing is known as one of the toughest events to successfully complete. One prerequisite for the competition is that an infantryman must earn an expert marksmanship qualification. Once they have completed the prerequisites to attend, they participate in a three-day training process. During the training, they receive hands-on experience with every piece of equipment and all the tasks they are expected to accomplish.
After the three days of intense re-familiarization training, infantrymen have two days of open training where they run through a multitude of stations, 18 testing stations with a total of 33 possible individual tasks. Lane require test candidates knowledge and application of first aid' map reading, weapons proficiency, communications, call for fire, chemical decontamination and recognition procedures, night-vision and bore-sighting proficiency, and tactical movements under various situations. Other areas tested include an Army Physical Fitness Test, land navigation, and a 12-mile road march.
Due to this high level of difficulty, less than 10 percent of the participants earn the EIB; however many Soldiers who failed the course will not give up on earning the honorable badge.
"I will retrain and mentally prepare myself," said Sanborn, a Franklin, Tenn., native. "I will try again, and if I get a 'no-go', I will come back the year after. It's one of my short-term goals (and) I will keep striving until I knock it out."
The EIB testing varies year to year since Soldiers are able to reapply and retest.
"The location shifts every year, as does the tasks involved with the lane testing," said Sgt. 1st Class Roy Starbeck, Raeford, N.C., resident EIB instructor from Company A, 1st Bn., 72nd Armor Regt., 1st ABCT. "Lane testing consists of three big lanes with small sub-lanes. The sub-lanes all contain the same tasks, but they are all visually and physically different. This system of lanes testing makes it so that no two Soldiers go through exactly the same course."
Once Soldiers successfully complete these physically and mentally demanding challenges, they earn the honor and pride to wear the Expert Infantryman Badge on their chest.
Starbeck said an infantryman will always imagine himself in Army Combat Uniform with an EIB on his chest.
"It is about the pride in your heart," he said. "Even if nobody knows you when you report to a new unit or deploy; everyone will know that you've achieved an expert level of tactical proficiency. By earning the Expert Infantryman Badge you will show everybody that you have exceeded the standard."