Fort Stewart infantrymen have been taking part in a series of hands-on tests all week, with each soldier hoping to earn an Expert Infantryman Badge.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Michael Metsger, Tactical Operation Command noncommissioned officer in charge for the EIB Committee, nearly 700 soldiers began the first day of testing, which consisted of the Army physical fitness training test, followed by day and night land navigation. Only 184 soldiers continued testing on the second day, he said.
Metsger said each of the EIB candidates must have scored expert marksman with the M-16 or M-4 rifle within the past six months. On Monday, they had to score at least 75 percent on each event of the PT test, and they had to identify and record two of three points in a two-hour period during each portion of the land navigation test.
“The first day is usually the day we weed out the ‘volun-tolds’ from the true volunteers, who really want to earn the EIB,” Metsger said, admitting that even though the EIB is a voluntary, personal achievement goal, first-line supervisors sometimes “strongly encourage” their soldiers to take the tests after completing EIB training, which is mandatory for qualified infantrymen. “That’s why we do the PT test and land nav first.”
According to a fact sheet provided by the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, which is conducting this year’s testing, the EIB was established by the Army in 1943 for infantry and Special Forces soldiers, including Rangers.
Unlike the Combat Infantryman Badge, which is awarded for participation in ground combat operations as part of a unit, the EIB is awarded in recognition of demonstrated proficiency in individual infantry skills.
Staff Sgt. Shane Grinder, EIB cadre, explained the format of testing for days two, three and four. He said the soldiers must complete a total of 10 hands-on tasks each day in one of three lanes: patrol lane, urban lane and traffic control point lane. They can receive no more than two no-goes per day.
Some performance tests include “load, fire, correct malfunction, unload and clear the M-240B machine gun” or “call for and adjust attack helicopter fires.”
“When I see a soldier who’s earned the EIB, it tells me at some point in his career, he’s shown the intelligence and the personal drive to earn this badge, which carries a lot of weight for the knowledge and skill level it represents,” Grinder said. “Since most EIB training is conducted at the team and squad level, commanders put a lot of weight on it because it’s a direct reflection on the leadership of that team leader or squad leader.”
Grinder, who earned his EIB in 2009, said this is the first year he’s been part of the EIB Committee. On Tuesday, he said four soldiers from his scout squad with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment of the 4th IBCT, had made it through the second day of testing with “all goes.”
Soldiers who pass the required performance measures still must complete a 12-mile road march within three hours Friday. During the march, they’re required to carry their weapon while wearing a 35-pound rucksack, advanced combat helmet and other load-bearing equipment.
The 4th IBCT was activated May 26, 2004, as the first light infantry brigade formed under the Army’s modularity transformation. The unit since has deployed to Iraq three times and stands ready to deploy anywhere in the world for whatever mission the country asks.