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11 soldiers become the first to receive the Expert Soldier Badge
The first 11 soldiers were awarded the Expert Soldier Badge on Tuesday after being the first to take the pilot test two years ago during the award's initial testing.
They received the new badge during the Association of the United States Army's annual conference in Washington, D.C.
The ESB is available to all soldiers who are not combat medics, infantrymen, or Special Forces. To be able to take the test, soldiers have to qualify as "expert" on the M4 carbine or M16 rifle and receive a recommendation from their chain of command, according to the Army. The standards test soldiers' skills over a five-day period, per the Army, and includes events like the Army Combat Fitness Test, day and night land navigation, a 12-mile march, and more.
Commanders will decide when the tests take place — working around deployments and training — similar to the Expert Infantryman and Expert Field Medical badges, said Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, head of the Center for Initial Military Training.
"[T]here's so much commonality, it was designed that way that you could run them simultaneously and there was only five events that soldiers who are not infantryman will have to do that are different than the EIB," Hibbard said. "It's based on what the unit can support and the time the unit has. Because if we say you have to do it every three years, based on the training schedule of our reserve and National Guard units … that would interfere with their training plans."
The first official ESB test will be at Fort Eustis, Virginia, in November this year.
Hibbard added that he expects more units to begin testing for the badge in fiscal 2021. Typically, it takes a total of three weeks for testing — time for resources and evaluators to get there, along with the time window that the actual testing takes, he said.
The badge was met with mixed reaction when it was announced in 2017, with some soldiers immediately pegging it as a glorified participation trophy, which the Army has pushed back on ever since.
"I know there are some thoughts out there that it's going to be, 'Everybody gets it,'" former U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg said in March, 2017. "No. It's not a participation trophy. The infantryman does his infantry tasks every day, but yet only about 25 percent of them get the badge when they go compete for it."
Correction: A previous version of this article identified Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg as the CSM for the Center for Initial Military Training. He is formerly with CIMT; Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Mitchell is the current CSM for CIMT.
It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.
It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.
"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.
ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.
That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.
"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.
"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."
The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.
On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.