JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington - Twenty-three Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, participated in a series of mental and physical tasks during the Expert Soldier Badge qualification to determine who among them would earn the first Expert Soldier Badges here.

The badge is a culminating event testing Soldiers and officers on their ability to execute various level one warrior tasks and drills, showcasing their Army knowledge, attention to detail, and commitment to the Army values.

Steel Soldiers represented the very best of their unit as they competed in multiple events, including an physical fitness test, day and night land navigation, a 12-mile ruck march, and three lanes: patrol, weapons, and medical.

During these events, candidates had to memorize and execute a number of tasks, ranging from tactical combat casualty care, to map reading and resection, and functions checks on ten different weapons systems.

One 2-17 Field Artillery Regiment "Steel" Soldier stood out throughout the qualifications with an eagerness to learn and motivation to be one of the first to earn the badge. Pvt. 1st Class Kainan MacDonald, a forward observer from Fallbrook, California, became one of the first junior enlisted Soldiers to earn the ESB.

MacDonald took the opportunity as a challenge to himself to become a better Soldier and add a broader scope of proficiencies to his arsenal.

"Most of the tasks I encountered throughout the ESB training and qualification were brand new to me," explained MacDonald. "Gaining that knowledge not only shows that I am an expert, but also shows that I am a capable and reliable member of a team. Not many people can say they are proficient on these tasks, especially artillerymen."

MacDonald added, "Of all the events, the medical lane was definitely the toughest. The events require a lot of memorization of steps, (and) a lot of fast-paced action."

During the medical test, candidates performed a series of tasks such as pulling a weighted medical evacuation sled during care under fire, requesting medical evacuation, and performing first aid for an open chest wound.

The competition as a whole was designed to provide the most realistic training to exhibit the core skills Soldiers need to rapidly deploy, fight, and win against any threat in any environment.

"Earning the expert soldier badge has set me apart from my peers and will absolutely help me in my Army career as I move forward," states MacDonald. "As a brand new Soldier, the badge has given me the knowledge and skills to make me successful in the future."