Expert Soldier Badge: Increasing Soldier Lethality

FORT EUSTIS, Va. – The Expert Soldier Badge tests a Soldier’s performance in physical fitness and warfighting tasks, similar to the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Field Medical Badge. Since the announcement of the ESB, on the Army’s 244th Birthday, nearly 5,000 Soldiers have tested.

The ESB tests a Soldier’s proficiency in physical fitness, marksmanship, land navigation, and other warrior tasks to demonstrate a high level of lethality on the battlefield.

Testing and training for the ESB should take place under realistic conditions, where Soldiers will have to demonstrate the tactics learned and successfully apply them under extreme stress.

Prior to testing, a Soldier must have passed an Army Physical Fitness Test or Army Combat Fitness Test within the last six months, qualify as expert on the M4/M16 rifle, and be recommended by their chain of command.

The test itself includes a physical fitness assessment, consisting of the Hand Release Push-Up, a Sprint-Drag-Carry, and a 2-mile run. Soldiers also complete a day and night land navigation course, individual testing stations such as providing care under fire and moving a casualty, 12-mile foot march, and disassembling and re-assembling the M4. ESB test stations include events from the Weapons, Medical, and Patrol Lanes with an additional set of tasks selected by the brigade commander from the unit’s mission essential task list, such as reacting to an improvised explosive device attack or constructing individual fighting positions.

Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, Center for Initial Military Training, stated the goal of the badge is to make Soldiers an expert at everything that applies to an individual Soldier skills.

Beeson stated the most common reason for Soldiers failing is a lack of preparation.

“Put your hands on the weapons,” he said. “The most failed portion of the testing is the weapons lane. Prior to arriving, Soldiers should have weeks of training where they’ve prepared for success.”

Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, commanding general, CIMT, echoed this conclusion.

“The reason Soldiers fail is a lack of preparation,” he said. “Many commands and Soldiers believe the week prior is enough to master the tasks. There has to be preparatory training.

“The importance of the ESB in the Army is building the war fighting skills of what a Soldier is expected to do,” Hibbard said. “The ESB tests on common war fighting tasks that all Soldiers should be proficient at.”

Since the creation of the ESB, nearly 5,000 Soldiers have tested for the badge, but only 19% have been awarded. At a command level, the testing of the ESB is essential in measuring the efficiency of how Soldiers are actively trained.

The ESB aims to increase the lethality among the force, outside of infantry and medical. Appropriate training and preparation are critical to a Soldier successfully passing the test.

More information on the planning and executing for the ESB is available at