Capt. Rudy Dambeck, an Upper Michigan native and a judge advocate in the JAG Corps, earned his Expert Soldier Badge on October 9, 2020 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wa.
When asked why he felt it was necessary for a judge advocate in the Army to earn the prestigious ESB, he said,
“The JAG Corps motto is, ‘Soldier First, Lawyer Always,’ and I like to think that means something, it’s not just a cool phrase.”
The ESB is designed to improve lethality, recognize excellence in Soldier combat skills and increase individual, unit and overall Army readiness. The ESB is the equivalent of the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Field Medical Badge but for all other military occupational specialties in the Army.
The ESB training and testing will be extremely challenging, mission-focused, and conducted under realistic conditions. Those in the Infantry, Special Forces, and Medical career management fields are not eligible for the ESB.
Dambeck also believes it makes him a better JAG officer and advisor to Army commanders.
He said becoming an expert at Soldier tasks and skills helps form better legal advice when you’re in the field advising commanders or even when you’re in garrison advising commanders when you actually know what’s going on out there.
“When you know what the weapon systems look like. When you know what medical treatment looks like. When you know at least your basic level patrol and soldier tasks. When a lawyer knows what that stuff looks like, they’re able to give a lot more informative advice to the commanders of the infantry companies out there that are looking for on the spot advice,” Dambeck said.
He also found his time down at 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division to be an excellent opportunity to train and refine his tactical skills.
When he first arrived at Lancer Brigade, he deployed to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, something he really enjoyed. Being at Lancer Brigade allowed him to go out and be a better Soldier, he said.
“You actually get to do army stuff, rather than just talk or think about it all the time. NTC is a great example of that and ESB training and testing is another great example of that.
Dambeck also believes that earning his ESB makes him a more effective leader, and that he has a responsibility to his subordinates to set the right example by leading from the front.
“As an officer, no matter what branch, you’re supposed to be a leader. You’re supposed to lead by example. So, it would be kind of a hard ask for me, a hard sell for me to stand up and ask junior-enlisted paralegals to push themselves during PT or push their land-nav skills or marksmanship skills or get out and try and earn their ESB if I’m standing here and I didn’t even try.”