By Sgt. Grant Matthes June 19, 2014
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers in their Army physical fitness uniforms lined the streets of Fort Drum to put everything they knew to the test. Perfection was a must, and the words "I don't know" were not an acceptable answer.
Infantry Soldiers throughout 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), conducted training June 2-6 in an attempt to earn the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge at Fort Drum.
The purpose of the EIB training is to show everyone that the infantryman is proficient in all aspects of his job.
"I think you see the people who succeed the best are the ones who had the least influence or prior influence and experience training, like the guys who are coming straight from basic training or straight from infantry school without any prior service at all because they're really learning the standard from square one and then they can take that and apply it," said 1st Lt. Victor Farrar, a platoon leader with D Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT.
It is likely that Soldiers who do not earn their EIB will have to wait a year before they will have an opportunity to try again.
The Expert Infantryman Badge was instituted to build and maintain esprit de corps within U.S. infantry units. The first EIB was awarded in 1944.
"Thinking about the men who competed for it back then, the exact same badge that I'm wearing right now, really is kind of a humbling experience," Farrar said. "I'm earning something to set a standard so the men behind me and those who are going to come after me can also succeed the same level of expertise that I had to go through."
On Day One of the exercise, candidates started at 5 a.m. to conduct an Army Physical Fitness Test. Immediately following was the day portion of land navigation where they had to properly locate two out of four predetermined points in three hours or less. Soldiers who were able to conquer that challenge had to return at 8 p.m. the same day to test their skills at night land navigation.
For the next three days, the candidates who successfully completed all events were to return to the field to start their lane training. The lanes consisted of challenges ranging from proper clearing, loading and firing of multiple weapons systems to reacting to contact from a simulated enemy.
Finally, Soldiers who passed all other tests had to complete a 12-mile ruck march within three hours.
Soldiers who met the standard in all events were awarded their EIB during a ceremony June 6.
"These Soldiers are true experts," said Col. Mark O'Donnell, 1st BCT commander. "There were many opportunities to fail, but these men did not falter. The EIB requires endless amounts of competence, dedication, fitness and possibly most of all attention to detail."
At the end of the event, 63 candidates earned their EIB out of 766 who started this time around.
"These men, our newest EIB award winners, are truly our greatest warriors," O'Donnell said. "I am very proud of them and proud of the effort they gave over the last four weeks."