JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Approximately 100 U.S. Army Soldiers gathered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Nov. 17-21, for the opportunity to earn the newest badge available to Soldiers. However, only three succeeded in earning the Expert Soldier Badge. This was the first opportunity Soldiers have had to earn the ESB.

The ESB course requires Soldiers to pass all components of the Army Combat Fitness Test within the last six months and scoring at least an 80% in all events. After the ACFT, eligible Soldiers will have to pass day and night land navigation to move forward to the medical, patrol and weapon lanes. Each lane has 10 tasks and candidates must pass each to continue then culminates with a 12-mile ruck march.

"We're trying to make sure every Soldier gets back to their warrior skills and battle drills," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Mitchell, command sergeant major at Center for Initial Military Training. "The Skill Level 10 task that every Soldier must be able to do in order to survive in combat."

According to Mitchell, all Soldiers are eligible to try out for the ESB except for those in military occupational specialties of 68W (combat medic specialist), 18 series (Special Forces) and 11 series (infantry). This badge is meant to raise the bar and standards for Soldiers.

"Soldiers are now getting a taste of what it means to be an elite Soldier," Mitchell said. "That's what I mean when I say we're raising the bar, we're raising the level and we're raising the performance of all Soldiers across the Army."

U.S. Army Capt. David Morin, a network officer with the 93rd Signal Brigade, was one of the three to earn the ESB at JBLE.

"[The ESB is] exhausting and challenging but a great experience overall," said Morin. "I feel like I have really accomplished something and it was a good test to evaluate how well you could complete the task required."

Mitchell indicated that units across the service should begin preparing their Soldiers for the ESB.

"If you are not getting ready to do an Expert Soldier Badge, then you are wrong," said Mitchell. "That means you're not going to challenge your Soldiers, you're not going to challenge yourself and guess what, you're not going to meet the lethality of the Soldiers we're looking to have in the field. This is one competition that will make sure the Soldiers we have will be on the field executing the mission anytime, anyplace and anywhere."