Infantry Soldiers PREP for EIB: Prestige, invaluable training comes with earning the badge

Pvt. Taylor Gutierrez, assigned to 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, throws training grenades at the Forward Operating Base Endeavor training area at Fort Bliss Friday while training for the Expert Infantryman Badge. Photos by Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs.

Pvt. Taylor Gutierrez, assigned to 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, throws training grenades at the Forward Operating Base Endeavor training area at Fort Bliss Friday while training for the Expert Infantryman Badge. Photos by Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs.

By Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Feb.1, 2018)

It took Sgt. 1st Class Robert Madison three tries before he earned his Expert Infantryman Badge in 2002, and now that he is a grader for the test, he has some sage advice for Soldiers hoping to pin on the prestigious badge.

“I failed many times,” said Madison, assigned to 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. “Just keep trying. You’re going to succeed. It’s determination … If you want it bad enough, you can get it, just like anything else.”

Madison was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the MK 19 grenade launcher station as roughly 1,000 infantry Soldiers gathered at the Forward Operating Base Endeavor training area at Fort Bliss Friday to train for the EIB testing that will begin here Monday. The training continues this week.

Spc. James Braswell, left, and Spc. Joseph Macfarlane, assigned to 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, practice adjusting indirect fire at the Forward Operating Base Endeavor training area at Fort Bliss Friday while training for the Expert Infantryman Badge.

Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Allen, operations sergeant major, 4th Bn., 17th Inf. Regt., 1st BCT, 1st AD, said the training gives Soldiers a chance to hone their skills on the 30 stations they will face during the test. The stations range from weapons lanes to medical lanes to patrol lanes and more. The test will also include an Army Physical Fitness Test, a 12-mile foot march and day and night land navigation.

“They get evaluated on every task and they must get a go on every station,” Allen said. “They can get no-gos, but they have to go back and retest and get a go. So on their third no-go they can’t get their EIB.”

Staff Sgt. Dorian Guerrero, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, practices setting up and deploying an M18A1 Claymore mine while training for the Expert Infantryman Badge at the Forward Operating Base Endeavor training area at Fort Bliss Friday.

Usually, only 5 to 8 percent of candidates receive their EIB after the test, Allen said.

The testing and training, however, are beneficial for all Soldiers who try to earn the EIB, Allen said.

“Soldiers need to learn their Skill Level One tasks, such as call for fire,” Allen said. “It helps the unit out that this is a big event. It trains everybody, so they don’t have to do an event that would do the same thing. All their training that they conduct every year can be done at this site. So when they go to the field and they can start doing squad and platoon live fires, the Soldiers actually understand what they need to do when they’re out there.”

Staff Sgt. Derrick Stevenson, NCOIC of the request medical evacuation station Friday, said the training refreshes important skills all Soldiers need to know.

“Every Soldier, from the newest private to the most senior Soldier, needs to be able to send up a medevac as soon as possible, so this is one of those things where it’s not dependent on the sergeant to understand everything; everybody must know how to do this,” Stevenson said.

Spc. Calvin Brown, assigned to 4th Bn., 17th Inf. Regt., 1st BCT, 1st AD, said he appreciates all the help Soldiers who had earned the EIB were giving to those who had not yet earned the badge.

Staff Sgt. Hyojong Kim, assigned to 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, practices his skills with the MK 19 grenade launcher during training for the Expert Infantryman Badge at the Forward Operating Base Endeavor training area at Fort Bliss Friday.

“This is my first attempt at the EIB,” Brown said, “and hopefully it’s my last as well.”

Brown said he expects some of the weapons systems he doesn’t use often to challenge him, but he was grateful for the opportunity to practice before the test and learn as much as possible. He acknowledges he is going to have to study hard.

Sgt. Tervon Moore, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, practices his map skills while training for the Expert Infantryman Badge at the Forward Operating Base Endeavor training area at Fort Bliss Friday.

“It’s as much as you put into it,” Brown said.