Just a stone’s throw away from The Sabalauski Air Assault School, 856 candidates embarked on the journey Nov. 19 to master their craft and become experts in their field. The candidates, all from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), are working toward earning the Expert Infantrymen Badge or Expert Soldier Badge.
Bastogne leaders and experts from across the brigade began planning in June to host and train for the EIB and ESB before their fall rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center-Fort Polk, Louisiana. After months of planning, a successful rotation at JRTC and being validated by experts from the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Soldiers are prepared to train and earn their respective badges.
The Soldiers will have to master 30 lanes consisting of medical, patrolling and weapons proficiency displaying their technical and tactical ability earning a “GO” status from an EIB holder to successfully pass the test phase that begins Dec. 7 and continues through Dec. 11.
Specialist Liam Mcentee, infantryman, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, has been training with his unit before the testing phase.
“I didn’t have a lot of preparation before, because I’m coming straight out of the Basic Leader Course,” Mcentee said. “My unit has been pushing hard with classes to train the EIB standard and running lanes at the company getting us prepared to hit the EIB lanes hard now.”
The Soldiers who are training have a significant advantage thanks to their deployment to JRTC. The infantrymen and Soldiers are starting to realize that the operations they conducted in the box – the 10-day force-on-force field exercise at JRTC – is assisting them in their efforts as they vie for the EIB and ESB.
First Lieutenant Scott Hearns, assistant signal officer, 2-327 Inf. Regt., is capitalizing on the training and is joining Mcentee to conduct extra work at No Slack to ensure their success.
“At JRTC I feel like we got a lot of good hands-on tactical training that is paying dividends for us out here,” Stearns said. “Our unit is also doing additional training after we get back from the lanes to really help us out.”
The additional training is necessary as the cadre will not be taking it easy on the candidates. Each noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the lanes will ensure each Soldier conducts the lane to standard or will push the candidates to the retraining area for further study, practice and one-on-one support to ensure their success during the testing phase.
One cadre member, Staff Sgt. Landon Wolf, operations NCO, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, is adamant about the high standards of his Javelin lane that each Soldier must master to earn the EIB or ESB. For his “winning air assault spirit” and motivation for teaching Soldiers during training he received a coin from Command Sgt. Maj. Derek Wise, 1st BCT senior enlisted adviser.
“I’m loving the motivation we’re having here at the EIB lanes,” Wolf said. “We’re squaring away some high speed ESB and EIB Soldiers. I appreciate the command sergeant major stopping by today. Currahee all day, every day.”
That motivation will be necessary as the Soldiers will spend a lot of time preparing and studying for their test phase in December.