JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The sun had not yet risen, but the Soldiers were pushing forward toward their objective. Sweat was dripping off the chins of some, hitting the ground as each mile passed.

Their rucksacks seemed heavier with each passing step. Their helmets seemed like lead covers on their heads. They had to complete a full 12 miles before their trek was done.

Once they reached their destination, there was one more task at hand: each Soldier had to treat a simulated casualty and carry him out on a litter.

This was the final event for the Expert Infantryman Badge testing that took place Oct. 17-21, 2016, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Of the 832 who started the Expert Infantryman Badge testing, only 143 Soldiers successfully completed all the required tasks and earned their Badge - making the attrition rate 83 percent.

EIB testing is a set of tasks conducted by infantryman to test both their tactical and technical knowledge, as well as their mental capacity to handle complex infantry tasks," said 1st Sgt. Christopher Carbone, the first sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The EIB's purpose is to recognize Infantrymen who have demonstrated they have mastered critical infantry arts and skills needed to successfully defend the United States from its enemies.

"The badge represents the culmination of Infantry skills that a Soldier has," said Pfc. Alex Jenkins, a Soldier with HHC, 1-2 SBCT

The EIB evaluation included an Army Physical Fitness Test, with a minimum score of 80 points in each event; day and night land navigation; medical, patrol, and weapons lanes; a 12-mile forced march, and Objective Bull (evaluate, apply a tourniquet to and transport a casualty).

"With all these tasks, you are given a standard to meet and have to pay attention to all the little details," said Spc. Daniel Wygal, also a Soldier with HHC, 1-2 SBCT. "That is what is what EIB is all about in my opinion: attention to detail. You have to ensure you pay attention to everything you do. If you don't complete a certain step in sequence, you will get a no-go. It is as simple as that."

The performance steps in certain lanes, such as Estimate Range, can be difficult for some, said Lacy. There are a lot of small miscalculations a Soldier has to make at the end of the equation for estimating range. It can make the difference between getting a go or a no-go.

"You get two opportunities to get a go at a station," said Carbone. "But if you get a double no-go at a station or cumulative three no-go's at multiple stations, you are out of the running for the Expert Infantryman Badge."

The best way to successfully complete EIB testing is to focus only on the current event being tested, said Wygal. Soldiers should not focus on what they did wrong or right at the previous event, or what they have to after the current event. Just focus on the current event.

"These tasks that are given to us during EIB sharpen your skills as a Soldier and allow you to better yourself, not only as a Soldier, but as person in general. Said Wygal. "You get to test your limits and see how well you perform different tasks."

The EIB testing builds muscle memory, said Jenkins. Soldiers are doing a lot of things they may have never done before or are rusty on. The repetition of training increases the Soldier's ability to do their job.

"These Soldiers have been training for two weeks," Carbone said. "They have had their EIB books for months. If a Soldier truly wants the EIB, the trainers will facilitate the correct training. The trainer's goal is to get you your EIB, not to fail you."

Not everyone can earn the Expert Infantryman Badge, Carbone added. For those who truly desire to succeed, the training is there and they will be able to earn it.

He watched his squad leader get his EIB last year, said Pfc. Jeffery Boothe, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1-2 SBCT. His squad leader pushed through the 12-mile ruck march with an injury. That act of determination motivated Boothe to push himself through the ruck march and earn his badge.

The EIB was developed in 1944 to represent the infantry's tough, hard-hitting role in combat and symbolize proficiency in infantry craft.

For the first EIB evaluation, 100 noncommissioned officers were selected to undergo three days of testing. When the testing was over, 10 NCOs remained. The remaining ten were interviewed to determine the first Expert Infantryman.

On March 29, 1944, Tech. Sgt. Walter Bull was the first Soldier to be awarded the EIB.