After a week of testing, which began on Nov. 14 with more than 1,000 candidates primarily from the 82nd Airborne Division, only 287 Soldiers successfully completed and received their Expert Infantry Badge at Fort Bragg, Nov. 18.
Included in that number were six female infantry paratroopers — the first six in the Army to earn the EIB.
The EIB has served as a proficiency and expertise determiner of infantry Soldiers for more than 70 years. It tests Soldiers’ physical and mental abilities, as well as their skills in land navigation, patrolling and basic infantry tactics.
The XVIII Airborne Corps commander spoke about the significance of the EIB.
“The Expert Infantryman Badge symbolizes an infantry warrior’s mastery of their individual craft,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, XVIII Abn. Corps commander. “It is vital to our Army that we have Soldiers at the cutting edge of battle — our infantrymen — who are dedicated to our profession of arms as warriors. I congratulate all of them on achieving one of the most significant milestones in the career of any infantry Soldier.”
Soldiers from across Fort Bragg, U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the XVIII Abn. Corps, some from as far away as Fort Stewart, Georgia, participated in the EIB testing.
Of those who start, the typical Army trend is that only 13 percent will successfully complete testing and earn the coveted EIB.
Having earned the badge himself, Staff Sgt. Lucas Schneck, a 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div., infantry paratrooper, spoke to the true difficulty of the testing.
“The EIB is one of the toughest thing I’ve ever done in the Army,” said Schneck. “It’s really about attention to detail, following a sequence and doing everything right.
“There are so many things you can fail on within any lane that you really just have to focus on every step of every task,” he added.
Schneck explained how the EIB testing also translates to combat effectiveness.
“At its core, warfare is more will, endurance and brute force, but it’s always also been a matter of skill,” said Schneck. “Within the crucible of ground combat, the most disciplined, the most practiced and the best trained will be successful.
“Those warfighter skills are really what we test through the EIB,” he finished.
As a badge holder and current paratrooper, Sgt. Maj. Johnny Resseguie, the 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. operations sergeant major, spoke about the expectation of paratroopers to go above and beyond.
“We train our paratroopers to be master craftsman,” said Resseguie. “Everyone who wears the ‘AA’ patch should strive to be an expert in their field and that’s what that long rifle on your chest means.”
Resseguie said that training and leadership is the cornerstone to achieving the coveted EIB.
“These kinds of results indicate disciplined paratroopers but they also indicate junior leaders teaching and coaching at all levels,” said Resseguie. “Individual training is really the bread and butter of our NCO corps and that is the key to the EIB.”