By Mr. Robert Timmons (IMCOM)March 29, 2017
For infantrymen across the Army getting a combat infantryman badge is one thing, but getting an expert infantryman badge is quite a different task altogether.
Infantrymen on Fort Jackson are having their taste of the rigors it takes to be called an expert in their occupational specialties as the post began EIB testing Monday.
"Honestly nothing is difficult," said Staff Sgt. Ivan Linsky, with 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, moments after going through the individual movement technique lane. "It is just knowing all the little things. It's stuff that we should know as skill level threes; its skill level one stuff that we should know."
While the tasks may seem simple the anxiety of the tests can cause candidates to stumble.
"The anxiety of testing. Whether or not I knew I had to pass, no matter how many times I did it, you know on game day when that clock starts all that pressure, all that anxiety" makes it difficult, said Staff Sgt. James Ferguson, one of the non-commissioned officers training and grading the EIB candidates.
The EIB, is a special skills badge presented for completion of a course of testing designed to demonstrate proficiency in infantry skills. The EIB, first created in October 1943, is awarded to Soldiers who hold infantry or Special Forces military occupational specialties.
To be awarded the EIB, a Soldier must complete a number of prerequisites and pass a battery of graded tests on basic infantry skills.
Candidates must pass an Army Physical Fitness Test scoring 80 or more points in each event, find three of four points during day and night land navigation, successfully pass 30 individual stations testing their weapons, medical and patrolling knowledge, and complete a 12-mile foot march under three hours.
If the NCO gets a "no-go" on the PT test, land navigation and 12-mile forced march they won't be able to continue. The infantrymen are allowed to have three "no-goes" during the lane testing before being disqualified. They are, however, allowed to retest at a station a second time to receive a go. If they fail the second time they are immediate disqualified from the event.
After the first day of testing nearly 40 percent of candidates had been disqualified.
For infantrymen on the trail as drill sergeants, the EIB may be the one thing needed to separate themselves from the rest of their peers when they are looked at for promotion.
Linsky said earning the EIB is "absolutely vital" to his career. "I've been looked at a few years and I feel the only thing holding me back right now is the EIB," he said.
"It's extremely important career wise and as an instrument to set yourself apart from your peers," said Ferguson, from the installation's Special Troops Battalion. "And shows you are an expert."
In the Army's semi-centralized promotion system, having an EIB could mean the difference between being selected for sergeant first class and possibly not getting promoted again.
With most infantrymen having seen combat, the EIB can set them apart from their peers.
"The EIB is technical," Linsky said. "For a CIB you just have to go to a combat zone and receive fire and return fire. That's it."
However "both are vital" to an infantryman, Linsky said.
"The EIB shows that you know your job and you know it well. The CIB, once again, you are overseas and you know your job and you did it well."
For trainers and graders like Ferguson who already earned the EIB, helping others join their ranks is special.
"It's an honor to grade a group of guys who want to come out here and get it," Ferguson said about helping train and grade the EIB candidates. Among his many tasks, Ferguson was responsible for testing the Soldiers on their ability to don their protective masks.
The contest ends Friday when candidates complete the road march and clear Objective Bull.