Soldiers excel, awarded Expert Solider Badge

By Christopher SchmiettSeptember 7, 2023

CAMP ZAMA, Japan-- U.S. Army Soldiers from across Japan and Guam, competed in the U.S. Army Japan's Expert Soldier Badge qualification from April 10-28 at Sagami General Depot, and the Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji. The competition tested soldiers' skills and expertise in various tasks, including land navigation, weapons handling, patrolling, medical care, and a grueling 12-mile ruck, all in the hope of earning the coveted badge.

Around 200 soldiers participated in this challenging and demanding event, showcasing their commitment and dedication to the U.S. Army.

"[ESB testing] was a very unique experience," said Staff Sgt. Julian Berriel, an ESB awardee, of the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Support Group. "I haven't had training this intense and needed since basic training. I think for any soldier, it's a good opportunity to get out there and really hone your skills, skills that you don't get to do all the time. I'm a culinary specialist, I'm in the DFAC (dining facility). I never get to touch an MK-19 or any of that stuff; so it was really good to get out of my comfort zone and really just get after it."

During the testing week, the candidates underwent a series of challenging tasks to showcase their expertise, including a physical fitness assessment, day and night land navigation, weapons and patrol lanes, medical casualty care testing, and a culminating 12-mile ruck march with a weapons check.

“[ESB testing] is hard, it’s not going to be easy. If you don't get it the first time, try the second time. If you don't get it that time, try again. It's worth it," said Berriel. "It's too rewarding not to try."

Only nine of the candidates were able to pass every test to earn the ESB. "The Expert Soldier Badge testing challenges the skills and abilities of our soldiers," said Sgt. Maj. Alex Richardson, the U.S. Army Japan Plans and Operations Sergeant Major. "The rigorous nature of the testing ensured that only the best of the best would be awarded the coveted ESB. Throughout the week, candidates were put through a wide variety of tasks designed to test their physical and mental capabilities. From weapons handling to land navigation, medical procedures to patrol techniques, each test was designed to push the limits of what a soldier is capable of."

Richardson emphasized the importance of a standardized validation process to ensure that the ESB retains its value as a true measure of a soldier's expertise and proficiency. "To accomplish this, we brought in leaders from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to validate each of our lanes to make sure that every soldier who takes the test is evaluated against the same criteria, regardless of where they are stationed or who is administering the test.”

According to Richardson, the soldiers who passed the testing demonstrated exceptional knowledge, skill, and dedication to their craft.

"It is a testament to the Army's core values of discipline, teamwork, and commitment to mission accomplishment that so many soldiers were willing to push themselves to their limits in order to earn this badge of honor. We are proud of all of the soldiers who participated in the testing week and extend our congratulations to those who earned the ESB."

Berriel agreed that the testing week was an opportunity to challenge oneself and grow as a soldier. He also said that his unit provided ESB candidates time to train for the badge.

"January through March of this year, every day, was ESB focused PT (Physical Training) for the ESB candidates, and then we had Leader's Time Training every Thursday that covered a variety of tasks that would give us some hands-on [training] before we got out here," said Berriel.

Berriel, like many other ESB awardees, accomplished the goal of receiving the badge by taking the testing one task at a time, focusing on the present, not worrying about the future.

"It's easy to get overwhelmed and focused on what you have to do three days from now, but what is important is that you make it through this task right now and then get to the next one. The hardest part was keeping your mind clear, staying on task, and not overwhelming yourself."

The nine Expert Soldier Badge awardees from units across Japan and Guam, pose for a group photo after all completed a 12-mile ruck in under three hours and after completing disassembling, reassembling, and performing functions check on their assigned M4, on April 28, 2023, on at Sagami General Depot. The competition tested soldiers' skills and expertise in various military tasks, including land navigation, weapons handling, patrolling, medical care, and a grueling 12-mile ruck, all in the hope of earning the coveted badge. Around 200 soldiers participated in this challenging and demanding event, showcasing their commitment and dedication to the U.S. Army.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The nine Expert Soldier Badge awardees from units across Japan and Guam, pose for a group photo after all completed a 12-mile ruck in under three hours and after completing disassembling, reassembling, and performing functions check on their assigned M4, on April 28, 2023, on at Sagami General Depot. The competition tested soldiers' skills and expertise in various military tasks, including land navigation, weapons handling, patrolling, medical care, and a grueling 12-mile ruck, all in the hope of earning the coveted badge. Around 200 soldiers participated in this challenging and demanding event, showcasing their commitment and dedication to the U.S. Army. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Schmiett) VIEW ORIGINAL
Staff Sgt. Julian Berriel, Expert Soldier Badge awardee, assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Support Group, waits to be congratulated after being awarded the ESB on April 28, 2023, on at Sagami General Depot. The competition tested soldiers' skills and expertise in various military tasks, including land navigation, weapons handling, patrolling, medical care, and a grueling 12-mile ruck, all in the hope of earning the coveted badge. Around 200 soldiers participated in this challenging and demanding event, showcasing their commitment and dedication to the U.S. Army.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Julian Berriel, Expert Soldier Badge awardee, assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Support Group, waits to be congratulated after being awarded the ESB on April 28, 2023, on at Sagami General Depot. The competition tested soldiers' skills and expertise in various military tasks, including land navigation, weapons handling, patrolling, medical care, and a grueling 12-mile ruck, all in the hope of earning the coveted badge. Around 200 soldiers participated in this challenging and demanding event, showcasing their commitment and dedication to the U.S. Army. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Schmiett) VIEW ORIGINAL
Staff Sgt. Julian Berriel, Expert Soldier Badge awardee, assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Support Group, waits to be congratulated after being awarded the ESB on April 28, 2023, on at Sagami General Depot. The competition tested soldiers' skills and expertise in various military tasks, including land navigation, weapons handling, patrolling, medical care, and a grueling 12-mile ruck, all in the hope of earning the coveted badge. Around 200 soldiers participated in this challenging and demanding event, showcasing their commitment and dedication to the U.S. Army.
Staff Sgt. Julian Berriel, Expert Soldier Badge awardee, assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Support Group, waits to be congratulated after being awarded the ESB on April 28, 2023, on at Sagami General Depot. The competition tested soldiers' skills and expertise in various military tasks, including land navigation, weapons handling, patrolling, medical care, and a grueling 12-mile ruck, all in the hope of earning the coveted badge. Around 200 soldiers participated in this challenging and demanding event, showcasing their commitment and dedication to the U.S. Army. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Schmiett) VIEW ORIGINAL