Six soldiers who happen to be women earn right to wear Expert Infantryman Badge

Matt Saintsing
January 24, 2018 - 10:59 am
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Spc. Gabriel Silva

In a first for the U.S. Army, six women have earned the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge at Fort Bragg, N.C., according to the Fayetteville Observer.

The women earned the badge last November while undergoing testing alongside hundreds of other candidates who were male. The opportunity for women to earn the badge was opened after the Defense Department expanded combat jobs to women—such as infantry.

A spokesperson for the 82nd Airborne Division said the six women who earned the badge are declining to discuss their achievements publically.

Of all the soldiers who sought to earn the competitive badge, less than one third did.

To successfully earn the Expert Infantryman Badge, soldiers must complete 30 separate infantry tasks that prove extreme proficiency in infantry expertise. Those who make three errors fail, and must wait one year to attempt it again.

Testing takes place over several days with events occurring during the day and at night. Little sleep and punishing stress compound the difficulty of testing, which makes the badge so prestigious.

Historically, less than one in five who test for the badge earn the right to wear it.

The badge was first conceptualized in 1944 when Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall implemented an award to honor U.S. Army infantryman.

The first 100 non-commissioned officers who tested for it were assigned to the 100th Infantry Division at Fort Bragg. After three days of intense concentrated testing, just 10 remained.

Today, testing for the badge includes ability to show mastery of the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, claymore mine, Javelin, and AK-47 weapon systems. Medical tasks such as first aid for a fracture, open head wound, abdominal wounds and burns are also tested.

The test is considered a rite of passage and only the best of the infantry is authorized to wear the revered badge.