By Sgt. Richard Daniels Jr., 1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)September 28, 2011
FORT CAMPBELL, KY, Sept. 23, 2011--Since 1943, the Expert Infantry Badge has been awarded to the most refined Infantrymen but the test itself has undergone many changes.
Currently, the EIB is on its 20th revision and Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, are the first in the division to participate under its new standards since its last revamp in 2009.
Anyone can partake in the test, but only 11 series and 18 series (excluding 18D) can earn the badge.
"EIB is a chance for an Infantry Soldier to show his skills and master the skills that we hold dear," said Sgt. 1st Class Shannon Corbin, a Company D platoon sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry and EIB patrol lane 1 grader. "Anything from weapons to land navigation to the [Army physical fitness test], and showing that they can achieve 100 percent 'go' rates on difficult tasks."
Because combat is an ever-evolving force, the EIB has been constantly adjusted to incorporate necessary skills, tactics, equipment and doctrine needed to survive.
At first, Soldiers had to qualify with on individual weapon or crew served weapon and while transition firing, qualify with grenades, complete familiarization firing with another weapon, complete a 25-mile foot march, complete a physical fitness test, complete an infiltration, close combat and combat-in-cites courses and take a test.
The original tasks of this 1944 3-day testing were completed by 10 noncommissioned officers out of 100 that participated.
Since then, it had become a four to six-week course, which includes preparation and training. It also required more than a dozen additional tasks.
"The old EIB was set up station to station… but you had [more than] 30 tasks," said Corbin. "Each one was not broken down into one long lane, and you had to do it with 100 percent accuracy."
Soldier had the ability to choose which task they want to do as well as an option to retest. Receiving a double 'no go' resulted in elimination.
Today, the EIB has become lane based and incorporates skills needed to survive Afghanistan, Iraq and other modern war fronts.
"Now it's based on a more outcome based patrol essentially, and the Soldiers are made to think of all 10 tasks in one lane," said Corbin. "They have to do it all right. Also there were no decision tasks. Soldiers are now able to think on their own.
"An example of that is when they are in contact and they are taking care of a casualty: do they stop taking care of the casualty to continue to fight the fight or do they make the decision to take care of the casualty?"
Soldiers now have to show their proficiency in a five-day period. They first begin with an APFT then move on to the Urban, Patrol and Traffic Control Point lanes, a day and night land navigation course and end it with a 12-mile road march.
Historically, the APFT eliminates nearly half of the competition. The Soldiers participating in the EIB test this week were no exception.
"Most of them had incorrect form. Their upper arm wasn't parallel with the ground during the pushups. That was primarily the biggest failure," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Shrider, an EIB grader with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Battery, 320th Field Artillery.
The lanes have also had an additional stressor incorporated.
Corbin said the course is very challenging. Not only does the Soldier have to perform 11 tasks in each lane, they also have the additional stress of a time limit. They have to perform 10 tasks and the decision task Corbin gives them within 20 minutes.
Since the first EIB was awarded to Technical Sgt. Walter Bull of Company A, 399th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division, on March 29, 1944 at Fort Bragg, N.C., by Lt. Gen. Leslie J. Mcnair, commander of U.S. Army Ground Forces, Soldiers have continuously strived to join his ranks. On Friday, dozens of Fort Campbell Soldiers will complete the course and become expert Infantrymen