Lane by Lane: 13 earn Expert Infantry Badge

Staff Sgt. Billy Mollenhauer, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment infantry squad leader, briefs soldiers from the 1/77 AR Rgt. on land navigation in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 15, 2015. Land navigation is one of several skills EIB candidates are graded on during the assessment course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  77th Armor Regiment Infantry Squad Leader briefs Soldiers from 1/77 AR Rgt. on Land Navigation in Preparation for Expert Infantry Badge Assessment Staff Sgt. Billy Mollenhauer, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment infantry squad leader, briefs soldiers from the 1/77 AR Rgt. on land navigation in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 15, 2015. Land navigation is one of several skills EIB candidates are graded on during the assessment course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
A soldier from the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, plots grid points on a field map during land navigation training on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 15, 2015. The training was part of the 1/77 AR Rgt. Expert Infantry Badge field training exercises in preparation for the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  77th Armor Regiment Soldier plots Grid Points on Field Map during Land Navigation Training on Camp Lemonnier A soldier from the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, plots grid points on a field map during land navigation training on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 15, 2015. The training was part of the 1/77 AR Rgt. Expert Infantry Badge field training exercises in preparation for the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
2nd Lt. David Kennie, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, Able Company platoon leader, practices operating the Mark-19 grenade launcher in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 16, 2015. The Mark-19 is a 40mm belt-fed grenade launcher that has been in service since the Vietnam War and EIB candidates are graded on its use as a part of the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  Able Company Platoon Leader practices operating Mark-19 Grenade Launcher in preparation for Expert Infantry Badge Assessment 2nd Lt. David Kennie, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, Able Company platoon leader, practices operating the Mark-19 grenade launcher in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 16, 2015. The Mark-19 is a 40mm belt-fed grenade launcher that has been in service since the Vietnam War and EIB candidates are graded on its use as a part of the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
Spc. Joshua Hale, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment combat medic, shows 1st Lt. Michael Derick, 1/77 AR Rgt., Able Company infantry platoon leader, how to treat a burn in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 16, 2015. The fundamentals of Tactical Combat Casualty Care include: treating casualties, preventing additional casualties and completing the mission, and infantryman are expected to demonstrate a variety of field care during the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  77th Armor Regiment Combat Medic shows Able Company Infantry Platoon Leader how to treat a Burn Spc. Joshua Hale, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment combat medic, shows 1st Lt. Michael Derick, 1/77 AR Rgt., Able Company infantry platoon leader, how to treat a burn in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 16, 2015. The fundamentals of Tactical Combat Casualty Care include: treating casualties, preventing additional casualties and completing the mission, and infantryman are expected to demonstrate a variety of field care during the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
Members of the French 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion, compare best practices on splinting a leg under fire in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 15, 2015. Tactical Combat Casualty Care is one of many skills soldiers are graded on during the EIB assessment course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)     Members of French 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion compare Best Practices on Splinting a Leg under Fire Members of the French 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion, compare best practices on splinting a leg under fire in preparation for the Expert Infantry Badge assessment on Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 15, 2015. Tactical Combat Casualty Care is one of many skills soldiers are graded on during the EIB assessment course. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, reassembles a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon during the Expert Infantry Badge assessment course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 21, 2015. Candidates’ ability to properly maintain and utilize a variety of weapons was graded as part of the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  1st Battalion Soldier reassembles M249 Squad Automatic Weapon during Expert Infantry Badge Assessment Course A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, reassembles a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon during the Expert Infantry Badge assessment course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 21, 2015. Candidates’ ability to properly maintain and utilize a variety of weapons was graded as part of the EIB assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, checks his radio after assembling the antenna and adjusting its settings during the Expert Infantry Badge red lane assessment course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 21, 2015. The EIB has three lanes for candidates to complete with a series of tasks to be completed in each one, and the red lane required candidates to assemble and check their radio before gathering their additional supplies and continuing the lane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment Soldier, checks his Radio after assembling Antenna and adjusting its Settings A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, checks his radio after assembling the antenna and adjusting its settings during the Expert Infantry Badge red lane assessment course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 21, 2015. The EIB has three lanes for candidates to complete with a series of tasks to be completed in each one, and the red lane required candidates to assemble and check their radio before gathering their additional supplies and continuing the lane. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
A member of the French 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion, lobs a practice grenade from cover during the Expert Infantry Badge red lane assessment course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 21, 2015. The EIB has three lanes for candidates to complete with a series of tasks to be completed in each one, and the red lane required candidates to toss two grenades from cover into a target zone as one of the tasks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  Member of French 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion lobs Practice Grenade from Cover during Expert Infantry Badge Red Lane Assessment Course A member of the French 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion, lobs a practice grenade from cover during the Expert Infantry Badge red lane assessment course at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, April 21, 2015. The EIB has three lanes for candidates to complete with a series of tasks to be completed in each one, and the red lane required candidates to toss two grenades from cover into a target zone as one of the tasks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
A U.S. Army soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment is handed a drink from a fellow 1/77 AR Rgt. Member, during a 12-mile ruck march as part of the Expert Infantry Badge assessment at Arta, Djibouti, April 24, 2015. Candidates for the EIB had to complete the march in less than three hours over unfamiliar terrain to avoid disqualification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)  1st Battalion U.S. Army soldier is handed a Drink from Fellow 1/77 AR Rgt. Member during 12-mile Ruck March A U.S. Army soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment is handed a drink from a fellow 1/77 AR Rgt. Member, during a 12-mile ruck march as part of the Expert Infantry Badge assessment at Arta, Djibouti, April 24, 2015. Candidates for the EIB had to complete the march in less than three hours over unfamiliar terrain to avoid disqualification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, rests after completing a 12-mile ruck march in Arta, Djibouti, April 24, 2015. The march was the final task for Expert Infantry Badge candidates to complete to earn the honor, which is one of the most important achievements a U.S. Army infantryman can earn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet) 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment Soldier rests after completing 12-mile Ruck March in Arta, Djibouti A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, rests after completing a 12-mile ruck march in Arta, Djibouti, April 24, 2015. The march was the final task for Expert Infantry Badge candidates to complete to earn the honor, which is one of the most important achievements a U.S. Army infantryman can earn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)
A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, wears the Expert Infantry Badge after completing all the EIB assessment requirements at Arta, Djibouti, April 24, 2015. Earning the EIB proves the U.S. Army infantryman is an expert in his field capable of handling a variety of weapons and quickly responding to combat situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet) 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment Soldier wears Expert Infantry Badge after completing all EIB Assessment Requirements A soldier from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, wears the Expert Infantry Badge after completing all the EIB assessment requirements at Arta, Djibouti, April 24, 2015. Earning the EIB proves the U.S. Army infantryman is an expert in his field capable of handling a variety of weapons and quickly responding to combat situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Maysonet)

For U.S. Army infantrymen, earning the Expert Infantryman Badge is a critical step in their profession of arms. With it, they demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of their tools and the skills necessary to apply them.

After 10 days of preparation and testing, 10 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, and three marines from the French 5th Combined Overseas Marines Battalion, earned the badge April 24, 2015.

“Infantry go through these tests to prove and to demonstrate a high level of proficiency, strength and endurance,” said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Dorris, 1/77 AR Rgt. NCO in charge of operations “The testing is physically and mentally challenging and proves you have the fortitude and ability to perform critical skill level tasks in your profession.”

Achieving this milestone is a major factor in promotions and the earlier an infantry soldier can complete the course the better.

“The EIB is a career starter. It lets you know they are an expert in their field,” said Capt. Charles Hoke, 1/77 AR Rgt., Headquarters Company commander. “Earning it shows you’re a professional and that you are the standard bearer others can look to.”

Joining the 1/77 AR Rgt. infantryman on this iteration of the assessment were members of the French 5th Marine, who underwent the course with their American counterparts as part of a continuing legacy of sharing best practices.

“Joint training like this builds esprit de corps amongst the parties,” said Hoke. “By better cooperating we build stronger regional partners, which in turn, enables better security.” 

In this case, the EIB assessment allowed an allied nation to test their proficiency on the skills U.S. Army infantryman are expected to fully master in the increasingly multinational environment that is East Africa.

Both the French and American participants officially began the assessment April 20 after five days of dry runs and briefings. To start, candidates took a fitness assessment testing both their strength and cardio endurance.

Those that successfully completed the fitness test began the land navigation portion of the course, which required candidates to successfully map three of four navigation points during both the day and night assessments.

Upon successfully completing the land navigation portion, candidates next faced three Individual Training (ITT) Lanes across three days requiring them to successfully complete 11 tasks on each one.

The first task on each lane, called the Master Skills Task, focused on weapons systems, and the remaining 10 lane tasks combined to form a mini field training exercise for each soldier. Tasks included things such as weapons knowledge and operation, first aid and personal decontamination procedures.

“In short, the MSTs are performance based, can you do these things in sequence, in time and to the letter,” said Dorris. “The ITT lanes are more outcome based rather than performance.”

The final event of the course consisted of a 12-mile foot march through uneven and unfamiliar terrain. The candidates were given three hours to complete the march; even a minute over the time limit, the candidate would fail.

Those that completed all the tasks and the march were awarded the EIB badge. With an average failure rate of 50 percent, it’s easy to see why the badge is so coveted a trophy.

“It’s definitely a good training process, even if you don’t get it you definitely learn a lot of skills that you don’t really focus on in day to day work,” said Sgt. Jeffery Strube, 1/77 AR Rgt. Bravo Company team leader and an EIB awardee. “It’s a good opportunity for anybody to give it a try. Whether your infantry or not, its good training and I’m glad to make it through.”

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Expert Infantry Badge Profession of Arms EIB

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