CSM dresses as a Spartan to award his soldiers EIBs

Command Sgt. Maj. Robert A. Duenas, the senior enlisted adviser of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, wears a Spartan helmet during the pinning of candidates who qualified “True Blue” during the Expert Infantryman Badge ceremony on Pershing Field at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska April 29, 2016. "True Blue" awardees are those who earn the EIB without any "no-gos" during testing. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love)

Spartan paratroopers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division tested for the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) April 25-29 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

The EIB is awarded to U.S. Army soldiers who hold infantry military occupational specialties. To earn the EIB, soldiers must demonstrate the ability to complete a wide variety of basic infantry tasks.
“Simply put, the Expert Infantryman Badge is critical in identifying expert infantryman,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jonny Resseguie, senior enlisted advisor for 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment. “It helps us identify who we are looking to promote and put in positions of greater responsibility.”

Testing for the EIB is a five-day process, which puts soldiers through the Army Physical Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, a diverse set of skill lanes, and a forced 12-mile foot march.

The APFT kicked off Monday morning with 635 candidates in attendance. Candidates needed to score 80 percent in every event and those who didn’t were automatically disqualified.
The master skills testing stations and individual tactical test lanes were split into three separate sections. The testing stations evaluate an individual’s proficiency in common infantry weapon systems while the test lanes evaluated a candidate’s ability to demonstrate tactical and technical proficiencies on infantry tasks to standard.

The lanes were conducted over three days and ended on Thursday.
“[The testing lanes] truly are mentally exhausting,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Sneddon, a native of Fayetteville, NC and a platoon leader with Delaware Company, 1-501Infantry. “To prepare for ten stations, and do it perfectly every time to make sure that you don’t make a mistake during testing, and get a no-go is truly mentally exhausting.”

Land navigation tests took place Tuesday and Wednesday during both day and nighttime hours. Land navigation tested the abilities of the candidates to navigate from one point to another using a map and compass while equipped with individual combat gear.

“After the lanes were over, the stress lifted,” said Sneddon. “I knew I only had to do the ruck march [to pass].”

On Friday morning the candidates finished off testing with the completion of the forced 12-mile foot march in which they were given three hours to complete. At the end of the march they were required to perform an equipment layout and additional medical skills testing, which signified the end of testing.
Later that afternoon candidates received their EIBs in a ceremony hosted by Col. Scott Green and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Duenas, commander and senior enlisted advisor of the Spartan Brigade, respectively. In a move signifying the brigade’s Spartan warrior ethos, Command Sgt. Maj. Duenas donned a Spartan helmet and tapped every candidate’s EIB with a Spartan short sword as they were presented.

“If the EIB was easy [to obtain], then everybody would have it,” said Resseguie. “The reason why it is stressful is because when the enemy is shooting back at you it’s not an easy day; we need these guys to execute in stressful conditions in peacetime so hopefully when [they are in] combat they can execute at the same level of proficiency.

Story by Staff Sgt. Brian Ragin


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