By Sgt. Brian Smith-Dutton
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - More than 40 Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT "Rakkasans," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), took part in the squadron's first Excellence in Armor event, which started Dec. 2.

The four-day event continuously tested participants through mental and physical challenges such as land navigation, basic weapons knowledge and first responder medical stations, as well as a written and physical fitness test.

Troop commanders from the 1-33 "War" Rakkasans chose their EIA candidates based on their professionalism as a Soldier as well as their performance as a cavalry scout.

"The program itself is made to identify those young soldiers that have that potential to be excellent cavalry scouts, and identify soldiers that are competent for the 'high speed' route," said Rodriguez. "Accomplishing the EIA could help Soldiers be chosen for positions such as squad leader, section sergeant, platoon sergeant and other positions of that nature."

Soldiers that successfully complete the EIA are not only considered to be the most proficient Soldiers in their field, but are also enrolled in the EIA program within the armor branch so that their accomplishment can be regarded throughout their career.

"I feel that completing the EIA will be great for me because that it will show how good I am at my job and how much I take it seriously," said Pfc. William Glass, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B, 1-33 cav. "I feel great that I did good on the lanes and made it through today, especially now that I learned that there's only ten people remaining."

The candidates agree that seeing the decreasing number of Soldiers continuing with the EIA helped motivate and inspire them to push for success.

"This is my first EIA, I want to finish it not only to separate myself from my peers, but to prove that I can do it, that I can push myself to be the best," said Glass.

Spc. Tyler McGraw, a cavalry scout assigned to 2nd Plt., Troop B, 1-33 Cav. Also expressed his views of the difficulties faced during the rigorous four-day event and the experience of bonding with his fellow cavalrymen.

"In the beginning of the EIA I had my doubts, but after the first few days I realized I could do it and that really helped build up my confidence to succeed," McGraw said. "Among all the guys that made it, we all look at each other differently now than we did before, we've built a different kind of brotherhood because we accomplished something so big together."

With the completion of the excellence in armor event, the Soldiers of 1-33 Cav. will continue to train and grow as a cavalry squadron.

"We have been fighting as a small infantry battalion so far, we are training to be a fully qualified reconnaissance Cavalry Regiment, and the EIA is just one step to make that happen," said Lt. Col. Jason Curl, commander for 1-33 Cav.

"In much the same way as the Expert Infantryman Badge is for our Infantry Soldiers, and the Expert Field Medical Badge is for our medics, this is outstanding individual training for our cavalrymen and it shows who can be the absolute best when it really counts," Curl Continued.

The eight Soldiers that completed the EIA were presented with awards, certificates, and the respect of their fellow cavalrymen. The candidates that didn't earn the excellence in armor title must wait for the War Rakkasans' next rendezvous with the EIA.