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Infantry Soldiers aim for higher standards to earn EIBs

Email   Print   Share By Sgt. Lance Pounds, 3rd Cav. Regt. Public Affairs
September 19, 2013 | News
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1st Lt. Steven Demetriou, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1-3 Cav. Regt., disassembles the M240 machine gun during the 3rd Cav. Regt.’s second annual Expert Infantryman Badge test Sept. 11. Sgt. Lance Johnson, 3rd Cav. Regt. Public Affairs
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EIB candidates receive instructions about initial task, conditions and standards expected of them for the day land navigation phase of 3rd Cav. Regt.’s second annual Expert Infantryman Badge test Sept. 9. Soldiers had to correctly locate three out of four given points and produce a six-digit grid coordinate from the start point to pass this portion of EIB testing. Sgt. Lance Johnson, 3rd Cav. Regt. Public Affairs
An awards ceremony was held for 26 candidates who earned the prestigious Expert Infantryman Badge Friday after successful completion of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s second annual EIB test.

These candidates were among more than 700 Soldiers who began the five-day-long test of infantryman skills.

The purpose of the EIB is to identify infantrymen who have demonstrated a mastery of critical skills that build upon the core foundation of individual proficiency allowing them to locate, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States.

The EIB test measures the mastery of individual skills through various evaluations taking place over a five-day period consisting of the Army Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, weapons mastery skills, Individual Tactical Test lanes, and a 12-mile foot march. Eligible candidates are exposed to varying degrees of stress to evaluate their physical and mental abilities as they execute critical infantry tasks to established standards.

Since its conception in 1944, the EIB test has gone through many changes in the way of structure and tested material. Advancements in technology and the type of enemies infantrymen currently face have sparked change in the test process once again.

One example of recent changes made to the testing process was instead of allowing candidates to receive up to two “no-gos” in each phase of test, candidates would now only be allowed to receive up to two no-goes throughout the entire duration of the test.

“This is, by far, the most challenging and difficult (EIB) training I’ve seen in my 19 years,” Lt. Col. Brian Harthorn, commander of 3rd “Thunder” Squadron, 3rd Cav. Regt., said.

As a result of the changes, the unit noticed a candidate attrition rate of approximately 80 percent after the first day of the five-day testing process.

“Through thorough after-action reviews, we will use lessons learned to adjust our plans in future EIB tests,” Harthorn said. “Regardless of the attrition rate, the training was excellent, and every infantryman got something from it.”

At the start of the third day, a little more than 50 candidates remained in the testing for the EIB. Many credited their success to that point to attention to detail and finding a balance between speed and accuracy.

“It’s good, intense (training),” 1st Lt. Eric Larson, a platoon sergeant assigned to Crazyhorse Troop, 1st “Tiger” Squadron, 3rd Cav. Regt., said, adding that he read books based on prominent people who displayed an innate ability to focus under extreme situations to prepare himself for this test. “I like it.”

By the final day, only 27 candidates remained in the test. Many had mixed emotions about where they stood at this stage in the test.

“At first, I just wanted it (EIB) for myself, but when I began to notice my fellow platoon members fall out, I wanted to prove that our platoon produces excellent Soldiers,” said Spc. Bryan Meyer, a team leader with Grim Troop, 3rd Sqdn.

The finale of this challenging five-day test was an awards ceremony, where candidates stood before their friends, Family and senior leaders to receive the badge they worked so hard to earn.

At the face of the formation stood the four candidates who had achieved the impressive “true blue” status, which meant they completed the entire test without receiving a single no-go.

“This will help me stand out among my peers when my time comes for promotion to sergeant first class,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Agans, a squad leader with Grim Troop and one of the four candidates to achieve true blue status.

Command Sgt. Maj. Roland Martinez, the regiment’s senior EIB holder, and guest speaker Harthorn, gave speeches honoring those standing before them, who have earned the coveted badge.

For the 25 Brave Rifles troopers from 3rd Cav. Regt., and one Soldier from 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, completing a test that clearly defines the word “expert” was a powerful statement exemplifying their level of proficiency in their field.
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