CAMP CASEY, South Korea- More than 1,000 Soldiers from various units across the peninsula trained for two weeks to develop the skills needed to pass the tests that were administered this past week for the Expert Infantryman, Expert Soldier and Expert Field Medical Badges at Camp Casey and Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, South Korea, April 23-28.
The competition, known as E3B, was first combined in 2021 so that all three competitions could be held at once in order to reduce the personnel and better compile the resources needed for the events. The first badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, was created in 1944. This badge was created for infantrymen to demonstrate a mastery of their critical tasks. The Expert Field Medical Badge was developed in 1965 for Army field medical personnel to challenge their skills and performances in a high stress, controlled environment. The newest badge, the Expert Soldier Badge, was most recently developed in 2019. This badge is open to all Soldiers, developed to challenge one's physical fitness and war-fighting skills.
A unique part of this competition being held in South Korea allowed for the Republic of Korea Army soldiers to compete for a chance to be awarded one of the coveted expert badges.
“Creating experts in the Army is very important, to not only the infantry, but every military occupational specialty, because it establishes that cornerstone of knowledge, creativeness and confidence in leaders,” said Master Sgt. Alejandro Cisneros, E3B weapons lane noncommissioned officer in charge.
“That cornerstone of being an expert in these 30 tasks and having the endurance to go all the way through the train-up, and then the testing, really shows a level of leadership that is a need in the Army,” said Cisneros.
The first event for each competition was the Expert Physical Fitness Assessment. This assessment covered a one-mile run in full battle gear, 30 dead stop push-ups, 100-meter sprint, 16 sandbag lifts into a light medium tactical vehicle, 50-meter water can carry, 25-meter high crawl, 25-meter 3-5 sec. rushes, and lastly, another one-mile run. Following the EPFA, the competitors had to successfully navigate a day and night land navigation course with several coordinates. Each event dictated a "go" or "no go," if any no gos were given to a competitor, they were unable to continue with the competition.
The next few days of events are split off based on the badges. The EFMB events consisted of a written test, evacuation lanes and tactical combat casualty care lanes. The EIB and ESB competitors went through medical, patrol and weapons lanes. Each competitor needed to complete a specified amount of tasks successfully per lane in order to pass these events.
"The toughest part of the competition has been the weapons lane. The weapons are different from Korean weapons, we never touched American weapons before this," said ROK Army 1st Lt. Shinzon Kim, an E3B competitor.
The final event, held at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, South Korea, was a 12-mile ruck march around the airfield cumulating with an M4 carbine disassembly and reassembly in an allotted time.
“This was a great experience, getting to see how it’s run and getting to learn the various tasks all of my Soldiers are learning as well; so now I understand what they are going through and can better instruct them how to do it in the future,” said 1st Lt. Justice McKenrick, one of the true blue Expert Infantry Badge recipients.
After the ruck, the contestants then gathered for the award ceremony at the 2nd Infantry ROK/U.S. Combined Division Headquarters on Camp Humphreys to be awarded their badges. Out of the original 1,172 competitors, only 240 earned their badges.
“The impact of what you have accomplished is tremendous. It will separate you from your peers, both today and for years to come. Each of you are contributing to the coalition which pursues peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, in northeast Asia and across the Indo-Pacific", said Sgt. Major Jack Love, United States Forces Korea Command Sgt. Major.