A 'ruthless demand for excellence'

By Robert TimmonsMay 2, 2024

1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers move out under the cover of darkness to perform the final task of the E3B - the daunting ruck march, April 26, 2024.. (Photo Credit: Nathan Clinebelle) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier has an Expert Infantryman Badge pinned on his uniform during an awards ceremony honoring those who earned expert badges, April 26, 2024. (Photo Credit: Nathan Clinebelle) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A drill sergeant pins the Expert Infantry Badge on the chest of an officer as his friend records it during the E3B awards ceremony held at Hilton Field on Fort Jackson, S.C., April 26, 2024. (Photo Credit: Nathan Clinebelle) VIEW ORIGINAL
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A Soldier raises his rifle as he nears the finish line of the final event of the E3B testing, April 26 - the ruck march. Soldiers were at Fort Jackson testing for Expert Infantryman, Expert Field Medical and Expert Soldier badges. (Photo Credit: Nathan Clinebelle) VIEW ORIGINAL

Ninety-eight Soldiers stood at Hilton Field, April 26, to be recognized as experts in their fields after undergoing two weeks of rigorous training and five days of relentless testing.

“These experts proved they are masters of the warfighting craft,” said Post Command Sgt. Maj. Erick Ochs. “In simple words, they are who they say they are.”

They are the newest Soldiers to receive Expert Infantryman Badges, Expert Field Medical Badges and the Expert Soldier Badges. For years the three fields held separate testing, until recently when the contests were merged into one – called E3B.

The E3B “builds a community dedicated to training to these standards and proving you are the master of your trade. These badges are more than just accolades, they are a symbol of the best …” Ochs said.

Ochs said the competition is more than giving badges to those mastering basic Soldier tasks.

“To those who say, ‘Why give a badge to someone for skill-level one tasks?’ I say, ‘Where’s your badge. Prove yourself’ and show a “ruthless demand for excellence” like those who earned them.

The testing was ruthless as less than 50% of those who entered testing being hailed as experts.

Thirty of the 61 EIB candidates who started testing received badges, while 26 of 65 earned the EFMB, and 42 of 87 receiving the ESB.

The experts didn’t just come from Fort Jackson, but 15 candidates and support personnel came from other posts as far away as Fort Drum, New York and Puerto Rico.

The EIB was first formed in 1943 when Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall spearheaded a plan to honor infantrymen with a badge that builds esprit de corps within infantry units.

In 1965 the Army explored the concept of training and earning a badge for those who qualify as expert Soldier/medics.

The ESB was created in 2019 to improve Soldier lethality as well as individual, unit and Army readiness.

In 2022, Fort Jackson became the first Training and Doctrine Command installation to plan, prepare and execute the E3B.