Wednesday, March 24, 2004

EIB Testing...

Question : I'm going for my EIB in May. However, I haven't even been to Infantry school. So I am in a little bit of a disadvantage. I was wondering if there's any advice you can give me. Especially on how to train for the 12 mile ruck march. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks!

The Expert Infantry Badge is an important milestone in every Infantryman’s career. I am truly glad that I passed that milestone a long time ago and never have to test for it again…because it is a pain in the ass lol.

The EIB consists of around 35 separate events or tests that must be passed in order to receive the award. Some are major events, such as the 12 mile road march in 3 hours or the day and night land navigation course, and some are relatively minor tasks such as putting a set of night vision goggles into operation (following whatever sequence of steps they outlined during train-up).

It would be impossible for me to give you specific advice about all the events, because each year it is a little bit different. I believe that the final decision on what events and standards will be used is made down in Infantry hall at Fort Benning each year. Once the standards are sent out to each unit, they conduct their own testing…usually at Brigade level.

This post is primarily directed at SGT L. , but it might be vaguely interesting to somebody so I'll throw it out there...

Some highlights are;

The 12 Mile Foot March…

The load will be standardized, usually around 35 pounds or so. The best way to train up for a road march is simply to start with slower and shorter marches and work your way up. You should already be able to maintain a 14-15 minute per mile pace (hopefully faster) if you’ve been in ROTC for any amount of time and are about to be commissioned. The trick is just to get into a good rhythm and slog it out. Fortunately it is an individual event, unlike the cattle drives we have to conduct here with Privates on tactical foot marches. You will be able to take advantage of the terrain as you see fit. I have always ran down the hills and walked up them, and never had any problem keeping a good pace. (Disclaimer: running with a ruck on can be hard on your feet and knees, so don’t blame me if one of your feet breaks into splinters) The standard should be 3 hours. Make good time during the first half of the march, because your pace will usually be slower on the second half. It’s really not all that difficult. We had a Lieutenant run the whole thing when I was in Air Assault School, and I think he finished in just over 2 hours.

Land Navigation…

I have no idea what your current skill level is in Land Navigation, but here are some basics and some tips that help me out. To begin with, always be sure of your pace count. Verify your daytime AND nighttime pace count, and then get a running pace count just in case. I have seen people get completely scrambled and have to start the course over. If this happens you are going to have to move quickly if you want to finish in time. Your night time pace count will be different as well, because you naturally take shorter steps in the woods at night.

The tendency is usually to come up short rather than long, so if you get where you’re going and still don’t see your point, find a landmark so you can come back…and then walk a little further. NEVER… NEVER… NEVER leave any kind of gear lying around to mark your spot. You will lose it. This is a truly stupid mistake that is almost always made by at least one Private. Actually I made the same mistake with a flashlight while I was tracking a wounded deer last year, but a 2 dollar flashlight is not the same as a 100$ Kevlar or a 1000$ M4 …and it was my flashlight, not the Army’s lol. (I eventually found the flashlight)

If this doesn’t find you your point, begin to cast about in an increasing radius from where you ended up. If you move out about 30-50 meters (depending on how long your movement was) and don’t see it…go back and check your work. Check your azimuth, make sure you added or subtracted your declination when going from Grid to Magnetic, and definitely re check how you plotted your points on the map. Use the finest tipped pencil you can. If you have points that look like they came from a Sharpie marker…that could put you off by 100 meters or more right there. Ensure that your protractor is lined up with the grid lines when you plot your azimuth. It’s easy to get in a hurry and plot the wrong azimuth…it’s not easy by any means to walk a thousand meters out of your way and have to start over lol.

Although I have rarely had a problem with it, some people tend to drift toward their strong hand. In other words a right handed soldier might find himself drifting a few meters to the right for every hundred meters forward. This is usually because of a habit of walking on the right side of obstacles. Make sure that when you move around trees or whatever is in your path, you alternate sides as much as possible.

You can always use the tried and true “box” method for larger obstacles. However, if it is something you can see across, I usually estimate distance and shoot my azimuth to a steering point on the other side. This is a lot faster, but it takes a little practice and a lot of confidence. If you are unsure at all, use the box method. (SGT L. - if you don’t know what this is just email me again)

This is only the tip of the iceberg that is Land Nav. I have a handout, several pages long, that I made up for my Soldiers back at Campbell. It’s a combination of stuff from FM 21-26 and my own experience. If I can find it I will see about sending it to you.

Land Navigation is both a Science and an Art. Get the basics down first. Dig out FM 21-26 and read it from cover to cover. But understand that it doesn’t mean shit until you put a lot of time in out on the ground. If you are going to be an Infantry Lieutenant, you really need to get out there and spend a few weekends with your buddies out on the course. Most posts will accommodate you if you make contact with Range Control, and they don’t have unit training scheduled. The worst possible thing you can do (maybe not the worst, but close) is take your platoon out and get them lost in the woods because you don’t know what the hell you’re doing lol. Not that this is a rare thing for new Lieutenants to do, but it’s best avoided lol.



Practice some more…

Don’t be surprised if luck still bites your ass on test day… This is what put me out when I tested as a Corporal lol.

Adjust Fire/ Locate a target by Polar Plot…

Hopefully they have given you extensive training on this in ROTC, but if they haven’t …email me and I’ll give you some help that way. I don’t believe it’s classified or anything but it’s not the sort of thing I need to put out there just the same.

I will say however, that it gets a lot of people on test day. Make sure you know it back and forth before you step up to test.

The rest….

If your unit is doing a weeklong train-up, then just spend as much time as possible, after hours…weekends…whatever, going over the “easy” tasks. Break all the weapons down and reassemble them until you are sick of it. And then do it some more.

When you reassemble the M249… slow is fast sliding the bolt assembly back into the receiver lol. If you get in a hurry you will struggle with it and waste time.

Email me with any specific questions you might have and I will help you out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great advice. Thanks!

2:16 AM  

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