"It's really exciting and it's something I always wanted," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Barsi, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Army Training Center after earning the Expert Infantryman Badge.

Barsi and 16 other Soldiers from Fort Jackson were awarded the EIB during a ceremony March 31 at the Joe E. Mann Building on post.

"You definitely need to get your mind focused," Barsi said after having the EIB pinned on his chest. "You have to get your mind right. There is a lot of concentrating. You may know something, but bad habits you had in the past could" cause you to stumble.

The EIB testing is notoriously difficult with only 17 Soldiers out of more than 115 that tested earning the badge.

"Our Army isn't about everybody getting a trophy," said Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, Fort Jackson commander during the ceremony. "That's not the way we roll. We roll by giving distinction and achievements to those who earn it."

Infantrymen need to pass the Army Physical Fitness test scoring more than 80 points in each category, find three of four points during land navigation, perform 30 separate tasks to standard and complete a 12-mile foot march in under three hours in order to earn the EIB.

If the NCO gets a "no-go" on the PT test, land navigation and 12-mile forced march they are dropped from the competition. They are allowed three "no-goes" during the lane testing before being disqualified. However, they are allowed to retest at a station a second time to receive a go. If they fail the second time they are immediately disqualified from the event.

Soldiers who completed all tasks with first-time goes earned the title of "True Blue." This year four Soldiers earned that distinction.

Johnson acknowledged the difficulty of the testing and he is "privileged" to watch Soldiers earn accolades that are "a distinction in our Army."

He added he was proud of the Soldiers for their attention to detail and their drive to succeed.
"We need to wake up every single day, continuing to improve our foxhole and trying to figure out how we can stay ahead of the rest," he said.

For Barsi earning the EIB was a significant part of his career.

"It's a different set of skills," said Barsi comparing the EIB competition to the Drill Sergeant of the Year. Barsi was selected as Fort Jackson's 2016 Drill Sergeant of the Year. "The drill sergeant competition has multiple different tasks I have do similar to the EIB. The EIB hones in mainly on my (occupational) tasks."

Johnson said he would love to pin a EIB over the CIB on his uniform because earning the badge "demonstrates personal excellence and achievement" and shows "you know the standard, you set the standard, and you exceed the standards."