FORT STEWART, Ga. – Soldiers assigned to the “Spartan Brigade,” 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, succeed at their respective expert qualifications on Oct. 1 at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, and Fort Drum, New York. Ten out of 17 Spartan Soldiers qualified at the Expert Infantry Badge, or EIB, qualification hosted by the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at HAAF and two Soldiers qualified for the Expert Field Medical Badge hosted by the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.
The EIB and EFMB represent two of the three expert badges in the U.S. Army and obtaining any one of them is a major milestone in a Soldier's career and enables them to professionally develop, train and set the example for others to follow.
“Most of our Spartan Soldiers that obtained their expert badge were junior enlisted, junior noncommissioned officers and junior officers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jaime Lopez, senior enlisted advisor of the 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “We instill the importance of creating experts early in the Spartan Brigade because we know this will pay dividends in the training and readiness of our formation and the Army later.”
Out of the 10 EIB Spartan Soldiers who qualified, six earned True Blue, meaning zero mistakes on any of the tasks during the qualification. Seven of the 10 are assigned to 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, and the remaining three are assigned 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment.
Spc. Maxwell Harris, assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Bn., 69th AR, 2nd ABCT, was one of the six True Blue Soldiers. Harris, a native of Union City, Indiana, had just come off a major setback in August when he was True Blue at the EIB hosted by 2nd ABCT all the way up to the 12 mile ruck march when he failed to meet time.
“I was really discouraged at the time,” said Harris. But one of his NCOs told him about another opportunity to obtain his EIB at the one hosted by 1st Bn., 75th Ranger Regt. and he was onboard.
After finally earning his EIB and getting True Blue again, Harris says he will remind anyone that “It’s not impossible. If you give EIB everything you have, you can get it.”
Capt. Brandi Gervais and 1st Lt. Phat Huynh, assigned to Charlie Company, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd ABCT, were two of two Spartan Soldiers that went to Fort Drum and earned EFMBs on Oct. 1.
Gervais is a U.S. Army dental officer by trade but had heard about the low pass rate for EFMB and knew the undertaking would be a challenge, especially when she and her fellow medical and dental providers are not able to practice Soldier skill level tasks often.
As challenging as the qualification was, Gervais wants to let others in her field know that they too can achieve what she accomplished.
“Take it one day at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself,” said Gervais, “It’s achievable, but it will take a lot of practice and mental fortitude to keep going even when you make a mistake.”
Historically, both EIB and EFMB have pass rates below 20 percent.