By Cpl. Song Chang-do, 8th U.S. Army Public AffairsJuly 2, 2010
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea - Nine Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army Soldiers from the Theater Air, Naval and Ground Operation Security Force at K-16 were among the ten TANGO Security Force Soldiers to earn their Expert Infantryman Badge.
Among the 10 Soldiers who earned the badge, two KATUSAs also received "True Blue" honors.
During the annual test, Soldiers strive to earn the EIB, a decoration that symbolizes expertise in infantry skills. The program consisted of three preliminary courses: a PT test, a 12-mile road march and land navigation. The actual course contained three lanes with tasks that measured infantry skills.
This year's EIB test proved to be more challenging than the previous ones, due to changes in the program that incorporated training resources and effective scenario-based decision making.
This year, 32 out of 346 Soldiers passed the demanding EIB test and 10 were from the TANGO Security Force.
"The pressure of having to pass all courses without failing was the biggest challenge," said Pvt. Jo Wan-soo, one of the recipients of the EIB from TANGO Security Force. "You keep thinking of failing even one course and it will eventually make you lose concentration, which you must not. Believing in yourself and determination to complete is the ultimate key to success."
"It's a test that depends largely on your physical capability but mental strength is also a crucial factor here," Jo added.
The two "True Blue" honors signfying perfect completion of the test with zero "no-gos" went to Cpl. Wi Young-jin and Pfc. Choun Myoung-woo, KATUSA infantrymen with the TANGO Security Force.
Wi and Choun were both awarded an impact Army Commendation Medal for their performance.
"The sense of accomplishment coming from this badge was overwhelming," said Choun, recalling the EIB award ceremony. "EIB is what I was aiming for even before coming here as an infantryman."
To prepare for the test, the Soldiers honed their skills through group training and mastered each EIB tasks through discussions and feedback.
"As a senior, it was hard to train all the individuals and collaborate with them at the same time during a task," said Wi. "The test itself is an individual challenge, but the training was carried out as a group so we could learn from each other and correct each other's mistakes."
Choun said that on top of hard training and physical fitness, a strong desire for the EIB and encouragement from leaders is what fuels the motivation to pass the test.
"Undoubtedly, all the EIB holders have had their desire for the badge that marks high professionalism," said Choun. "It's what keeps them focused."
"But the help you get along the way is also a huge part of the process. The whole effort was based on the support from our platoon leaders and our NCO's. They'd sometimes buy us energy protein bars for the road march and some of the EIB holders would also guide us through the training or give us useful advice," said Choun.
The successful candidates now plan to move on to new challenges and many plan to strive for another decoration to pin on their uniform.
"This experience will definitely be marked as one of the major accomplishments during my tour," said Choun. "My next goal will be participating in the Warrior Leader Course."
Most of the Soldiers seek to take on another challenge to achieve their primary goal of becoming an accomplished infantryman and a respected leader.