Reports this week claim that six female soldiers at Fort Bragg quietly became the first women to earn the Expert Infantry Badge (EIB), awarded to them last year for completing the EIB course.
“Women quietly broke through barriers last fall when they became the first in the Army to earn the prestigious Expert Infantryman Badge at Fort Bragg, North Carolina,” an article from Military.com stated.
Only it wasn’t true, well, not technically. A female commander, Captain Michelle Roberts, of an infantry battalion’s support company earned the EIB in 2011 while at Fort Jackson, SC.
“This is the first year that (I’ve seen) a (woman) compete in the 27 years I’ve been in the Army,” Sgt. Maj. Michael Love, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Expert Infantryman Badge, said at the time. “I think it’s great.”
Roberts, who was an activated National Guard intelligence officer in the US Army at the time, earned the certificate for the award but was not permitted to wear the badge because she comes from a non-combat arms branch.
Army Regulation 600-8-22 states that EIB candidates must have a MOS of infantry or special forces; be a special forces warrant officer; or be infantry or special operations branch officers serving in infantry positions.
Then Captain Michelle Roberts was serving in an infantry battaltion at the time but not serving in an infantry position as they were not opened to women yet.
“Male or female, we’re all Soldiers first. It doesn’t matter what your (military occupational specialty) is. It doesn’t matter what job you do for the United States Army. You’re a Soldier first,” Roberts said in 2011. “It’s good to have all the training under my belt. I know that if I go into combat now, I have confidence in myself, I can rely on myself, (and) my battle buddies can also rely on me.”
However, it did matter what one’s MOS is, at least when it comes to wearing the badge.
It is unknown if Roberts is still in the military, however, the larger issue of why she did not receive recognition still remains. The Army has not released the names of the six women who earned the EIB last year. But unlike Roberts, these women are the first that are allowed to wear the EIB on their uniforms because they are serving in the infantry.
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