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Spc. Terry Baker, a 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment soldier, practices individual movement techniques Wednesday in preparation for Expert Infantryman’s Badge testing. “You have to use the proper techniques to get from one concealed position to another,” a sweaty Baker said after completing the course. “It can be hard if you don’t stay on top of it.”

Spc. Terry Baker, a 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment soldier, practices individual movement techniques Wednesday in preparation for Expert Infantryman’s Badge testing. “You have to use the proper techniques to get from one concealed position to another,” a sweaty Baker said after completing the course. “It can be hard if you don’t stay on top of it.” (Seth Robson / S&S)

Spc. Terry Baker, a 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment soldier, practices individual movement techniques Wednesday in preparation for Expert Infantryman’s Badge testing. “You have to use the proper techniques to get from one concealed position to another,” a sweaty Baker said after completing the course. “It can be hard if you don’t stay on top of it.”

Spc. Terry Baker, a 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment soldier, practices individual movement techniques Wednesday in preparation for Expert Infantryman’s Badge testing. “You have to use the proper techniques to get from one concealed position to another,” a sweaty Baker said after completing the course. “It can be hard if you don’t stay on top of it.” (Seth Robson / S&S)

Pvt. Mark Chromik, 19, of Yorktown, Va., tosses a simulated grenade.

Pvt. Mark Chromik, 19, of Yorktown, Va., tosses a simulated grenade. (Seth Robson / S&S)

VILSECK, Germany — They earned combat awards battling al-Qaida and the Mahdi Army in Iraq last year. Now members of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment are seeking another mark of the complete soldier — the Expert Infantryman’s Badge.

At Vilseck Army Air Field last week, 246 infantrymen from the regiment tossed grenades, crawled past obstacles, took apart and reassembled weapons and drilled in other military tasks to prepare for EIB testing this week.

According to Master Sgt. Edward Anderson, 38, of Bristol, Conn., the 2nd Cav EIB project manager, most infantrymen in the regiment’s three squadrons earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge — awarded to infantrymen who have experienced combat — during the Iraq deployment in 2007-08.

However, many of them, even soldiers ranked as high as sergeant first class, have yet to achieve the EIB, which is awarded to soldiers who master 37 "warrior tasks," he said.

"When I was a sergeant we did this every year," he said. "With the deployments in the war on terror and training for the deployments, we don’t do it so often."

That’s unfortunate because, according to Anderson, the EIB is "the best hands-on training that most soldiers receive."

During EIB assessment, soldiers must pass tests at numerous stations that include firing machine guns; movement under fire; AT4 anti-tank weapon; calling for and adjusting fire; nuclear, biological and chemical tasks; throwing hand grenades; performing first aid; radio skills; and using night-vision devices.

Anderson said his favorite is the hand-grenade lane.

There, EIB candidates get five training grenades and must use them to take out a target representing an enemy soldier 35 meters away by landing the grenade within a five-meter circle, according to one of the soldiers monitoring the lane, Staff Sgt. James Moseley, 30, of Branford, Fla.

Then, he said, they have to zigzag their way to a bunker using cover and drop a grenade through a hole before racing over to a pile of sandbags and lobbing another grenade into a foxhole 20 meters away.

One of the 2nd Cav infantrymen practicing grenade throwing on Wednesday, Pfc. Robert Uerling, 23, of Georgetown, Texas, said he’d been in the Army 29 months and deployed to Iraq with the regiment.

The hardest parts of EIB testing, Uerling said, are the weapons skills.

"There are a lot of different sequences you have to follow to do things, like functions test and loading and unloading the weapons," he said, adding that he’s trained for the EIB since he returned from Iraq late last year.

Near the grenade lane, Spc. Terry Baker, 22, of Farmer City, Ill., was practicing individual movement techniques on an obstacle course.

"You have to use the proper techniques to get from one concealed position to another," a sweaty Baker said after completing the course.

"It can be hard if you don’t stay on top of it. You can get a no-go for lifting your heel or raising your head off the ground on the low crawl or not going to your nonfiring side on your three- to five-second rush."

Those who are judged competent at the warrior tasks during the testing have one last task to complete, Anderson said.

"We finish with a road march of 12 miles in three hours with a 35-pound ruck and all their fighting load," he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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