VILSECK, Germany -- Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division trained and tested for the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB), at the Vilseck Army Airfield, Germany, Mar. 4 - 22, 2019.
"For those that earned their EIB, I want to talk to you about the importance of it," said Brig. Gen. Christopher C. LaNeve, commanding general for the 7th Army Training Command. "The badge itself represents hours of long work, hard work, and studying."
A total of 583 Soldiers began the intense journey toward the coveted EIB, with 83 successfully graduating and 21 earning the designation of "True Blue", by completing each phase of testing on their first attempt.
For the last three weeks, Soldiers have been training and testing out in all of the different tasks required to earn the EIB, said Sgt. Charles E. Webb, an EIB Grader and Team Leader from the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. There's the physical fitness assessment, day and night land navigation course, and three lanes consisting of weapons, patrol, and medical tasks.
The last day begins with a 12 mile foot march that must be completed in under three hours. Afterward, participants had five minutes to clear, disassemble, reassemble, and perform a functions check on a M4-Series carbine.
While the EIB is typically sought-after by U.S. Soldiers, on rare occasions foreign soldiers are invited to participate. Foreign soldiers are held to the same standards, to include holding an equivalent infantry primary military occupational specialty (MOS).
"I just like learning something new and getting better, so it's a new achievement of me getting better in the military," said Cpl. Finnian Garvey, a sniper from the German Army, "It's fun being here, it's something totally different than what we have, we don't have anything comparing actually."
The purpose of the EIB is to recognize Infantrymen who have demonstrated a mastery of critical tasks. These tasks build on the foundation of individual proficiency, allowing units improved collective readiness to maintain, overmatch and increase lethality against future threats.
In 1944, Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall initiated the development of an award to honor the U.S. Army Infantryman. The Office of Heraldic Activity of the Quartermaster General designed the EIB to represent the U.S. Infantry's tough, hard hitting role in combat and symbolize proficiency in the Infantry arts.
"The EIB proves that a Soldier can take a set of instructions and follow them exactly to accomplish a task," said Staff Sgt. Brett Alexander, a platoon sergeant with the 1st Bn. 16th Inf. Regt. 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. "It's definitely humbling, and you really have to pay attention to detail."
The Devil Brigade is part of more than 6,000 U.S. regionally-allocated Soldiers in Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, on a nine-month rotation, in support of Atlantic Resolve.