FORT BLISS, Texas – Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, spent their spare time training during the Network Integration Evaluation 14.1 for 1st Armored Division’s upcoming Expert Infantry Badge qualification Oct. 25, 2013.<br /> <br /> The Expert Infantry Badge or EIB is a coveted badge for those who hold an infantry military occupational specialty. It tests the candidate's knowledge and abilities as an infantry soldier. Tests include land navigation, a 12-mile ruck march and weapons qualification.<br /> <br /> “We are scheduled to test new equipment for the Army,” said Sgt. Ian Bowman, a squad leader in A Company, 1-6IN, 2/1AD. “The equipment we will test includes the rifleman radio and various equipment they assign us.”<br /> <br /> The NIE process is important to the Army. Second Brigade, 1st Armored Division’s task is to establish an integrated network and successfully test and evaluate capability solutions for new equipment aimed at modernizing the Army. During the process there is down time, and leaders are taking advantage of being in a field environment.<br /> <br /> “During our down time we are taking advantage of every opportunity to train,” He said. “We have a lot of new guys that aren’t familiar with our [standard operating procedures]. So we are maximizing our time to run them through the different weapon systems, basic infantryman task and battle drills.”<br /> <br /> “EIB training starts in the beginning in December, and testing starts in the third week,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Moran, a section leader also with A Company, 1-6IN, 2/1AD. “It gives soldiers a chance to be competitive and it is a lot harder to get your EIB than a [combat infantry badge].”<br /> <br /> Soldiers going out for their EIB need to practice, study and to keep training until it becomes muscle memory, said Pfc. James Parker, a saw gunner in the same unit.<br /> <br /> “We’re always looking forward to finding new stuff to play with, can’t wait to see what NIE has to offer this year,” Bowman said.