Non-infantry troops in the Army will now have to suffer through the same pressures to show their field proficiency, thanks to the Expert Soldier Badge’s debut.
Once a season when those not assigned to the infantry branch could sit back and watch their 11-series counterparts slog around with rucksacks and face paint as they performed a (mandatory) evaluation of their skills- the dreaded EIB.
No more, however. With the introduction of the Expert Soldier Badge (the Combat Action Badge’s equivalent to the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Field Medical Badge), troops of all MOSs will now how to suffer through trials and field problems in order to prove their worth.
So far, it seems, that is a pretty tall order.
According to Military.com, of the 95 soldiers who began Expert Soldier Badge testing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA, on Sunday, only three remained by Thursday.
Between the fitness test and land navigation (day and night) it appears that well over half the participants were either physically unfit or unable to read a map, with 59 participants being cut on the first day of testing.
“Either you meet the standard or you do not meet the standard … and that is the way it should be,” Command Sgt. Major Edward Mitchell, CSM for the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training.
Of the three Soldiers who remain, none are ranked below sergeant- an E-5, an E-6 and an O-3 remain.
The three participants are now one 12-mile road march away from earning their ESB.
One Military Policeman, Sergeant Skyler Freeman of the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), blamed his failure on the M2. 50-caliber range on lack of working equipment.
“The problem is most units don’t have the resources for the stuff we are getting tested on here, whether it’s the weapons or certain comms equipment,” Freeman said. “All three .50-cals in my unit are broken.”
The training has been a real eye-opener for the US Army, and leaders view the fantastical failure rates as somewhat of a blessing- the embarrassment of knowing their Soldiers -many of them being NCOs and Officers- are unable to perform basic level-1 skill tasks might be enough to get units serious about training.
After all, there is no guarantee that the wars of the future won’t put them on the front lines.
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