WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- Young or old, enlisted or officer, vast experience or first duty station, during their careers, most infantry Soldiers will accept the challenge and attempt to earn their Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB).
The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, held the 25th ID EIB testing on Schofield Barracks and the East Range Training Complex here Aug. 24-28.
More than 760 25th ID Soldiers were graded under new EIB standards for the first time in the Army.
EIB Training is designed and conducted under realistic conditions, and recognizes outstanding infantrymen who attain a high degree of professional skill, expertise and excellence in a broad spectrum of critical tasks.
The tested tasks included a patrol lane where Soldiers got tested on how to properly call and adjust indirect fire, movement under direct fire, how send a situation report, identify and employ hand grenades; a medical lane where Soldiers had to treat a casualty for heat injury, perform first aid for an open head wound, perform first aid for an open abdominal wound; a mystery event that needed to be completed in 20 minutes or less where Soldiers had to evaluate a casualty, apply a tourniquet to control bleeding and finally transport a casualty.
"The EIB training is the knowledge base which all infantrymen should push to attain as a Soldier, to what they do as an infantryman who is executing along with their peers in the job," said Capt. Christopher Frantz, from Pontiac, Mich., the plans officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 65th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2SBCT. "This is one of the few times where the primary focus of the brigade or the unit who is the leading force of the training can focus on specific individual Soldier skills. There is no better time for Soldiers to receive this training and gain that expertise in those focus areas."
According to Staff Sgt. Mitchell Davis, from Grand Island, Neb., an infantryman assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, the training was a lot tougher than he expected.
"The weather all week was a serious issue. We were facing constant rain showers every day, making it difficult to keep morale up," he said. "However, it is good to see a decent percentage make it out, but like I said it was a lot harder than expected -- especially having to treat and evaluate a casualty after the 12-mile forced road march."
Some of the key changes to the EIB training were the APFT standard increased from 70 to 80 points per event; patrolling, urban lanes and traffic control plan lanes changed to patrolling, weapons and medical lanes; total tasks tested decreased from 39 to 33; Soldiers load for foot march changed to 105 pounds; and addition of Objective Bull to end of foot march.
Faced with early morning sunshine and afternoon downpours causing red Hawaiian mud to graft to their boots and clothes, the EIB candidates were determined to conquer all tasks set before them.
"Going into the training I had the mindset of 'no matter what I will accomplish these tasks and I will do them right from the start,'" said 1st Lt. Robert Doyle, a native of Redline, Pa., and an infantry officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2SBCT. "My philosophy is that EIB is something that every infantryman should hold near and dear to their hearts, and they should want to do this if their goal is to make the Army a career."
Regardless of Doyle's philosophy, evaluators in the distance still mutter the fatal words, "you did not perform the step correctly, therefore, you are a no-go at this station at this time," causing Soldiers to walk away from the testing lanes with their heads hanging in dismay.
"Even though the EIB is an individual event, it's never okay to see your battle buddies fail," said Davis. "For the individuals who didn't complete the training doesn't mean that they don't know how to do the tasks; it just means they didn't meet the exact EIB standards."
For Sgt. Geoffrey Bruno, a native Los Angeles, Calif., completing this challenge and having the EIB pinned on his chest meant the world to him.
"This is an amazing feeling," said Bruno, an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 65th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2SBCT. "This is actually my third attempt and, I still can't believe I achieved this. In this profession the EIB means everything to the Soldier. It means you are an expert in your job, you can do your job, and have the confidence to accomplish any task at any given time. It is what every infantryman should strive for."
The new EIB training standards tested the Soldiers of the 25th ID both physically and mentally, and while only 22 Soldiers successfully accomplished the tasks set before them; many more will be challenged in the next upcoming EIB testing in September.