News: Soldiers earn EIB at Atterbury
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Matt Scotten
EDINBURGH, Ind. – In 1944 100 noncommisioned officers of the 100th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. were selected to undergo three days of concentrated testing to determine the Army’s first expert infantrymen. Today, the latest group of active, reserve and national guard Soldiers earned their own expert infantry badges at Atterbury during a massive joint EIB qualification event hosted by 1st Army East and Atterbury.
Soldiers were tested in urban operations tactics, patrolling, land navigation, small arms skills and more to prove they had what it took to earn the EIB. Participating organizations included 1st Battalion, 335th Infantry Regiment; 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne; Army Reserve; and Army National Guard Soldiers from Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The event occurred over the course of two training cycles; the first June 21 to July 2, and a second iteration held July 6-17.
“The cadre from 1st Army really stepped up to the plate to make this happen,” said Maj. Gen Omer C. Tooley, commander, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations. “They came to us and asked for resources and together we were able to bring together an entire region.”
Tooley went on to say that events such as the EIB qualification were among the most worthwhile things Atterbury can participate in as an organization. He said, “These are the kinds of things we should really be investing in here.”
The EIB is often compared to the combat infantry badge, which is awarded to infantrymen and Special Forces Soldiers in the rank of colonel and below, who personally fought in active ground combat. The EIB differs in that it is proof that a Soldier has proven himself to be a master of his craft in regard to infantry skills and their application. The EIB is among the most respected badges available to the infantry Soldier.
“It’s been a long time since we have had an EIB testing, largely due to other training requirements associated with operations and the war effort over the last several years,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Boatman, Emmett, Idaho native and senior observer controller administering testing at the qualification event. “It’s an excellent event to test an infantryman in all of his basic skills. Even the ones who don’t end up qualifying benefit from some excellent training, and the chance to hone their skills in a demanding, high-pressure environment. It is just great training for infantryman to participate in. They all walk away better than when they arrived.”
Many Soldiers spend a great deal of time training to earn their EIB before they arrive at the event. This training could involve any number of things to include retraining themselves with weapons platforms so they can demonstrate their skills in within the proper time limits, or even just extra physical training to better maintain the stamina, speed and strength necessary to complete the 12-mile road march within the 2-hour time limit.
“This is an opportunity for us to really showcase our skills. It means a lot to an infantryman,” said, 1st Lt. Vern Meissner, platoon leader, Headquarters Co., 1st Bn., 178th Infantry, Illinois National Guard. “We spent a lot of time at the armory practicing all of the tasks that are required to earn the EIB.
With the joint efforts of 1st Army East and Atterbury, almost 300 Soldiers from all three Army components and nine different states had the opportunity to participate in EIB training. Considering the resources, logistical capabilities and over 30,000 acres of training areas available at Atterbury, the location seems perfect for exactly this kind of complex, joint endeavor. One could only hope such a worthwhile investment in the training of America’s warfighters can continue in the coming years to build upon the success of this first event.