Louisiana Guardsman earns coveted Expert Infantryman Badge

Louisiana National Guardsman Spc. Brian Smith with A Company, 2nd Battalion,156th Infantry Regiment out of Breaux Bridge, La., is pinned with the Expert Infantryman Badge at Camp Navajo, Ariz., July 24, 2014. Smith, a native of Lafayatte, La., was one of six infantrymen that received the badge out of the 135 that attempted. (Louisiana National Guard courtesy photo/Released)

Louisiana National Guardsman Spc. Brian Smith with A Company, 2nd Battalion,156th Infantry Regiment out of Breaux Bridge, La., is pinned with the Expert Infantryman Badge at Camp Navajo, Ariz., July 24, 2014. Smith, a native of Lafayatte, La., was one of six infantrymen that received the badge out of the 135 that attempted. (Louisiana National Guard courtesy photo/Released)

By Sgt. Greg Stevens, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Representative

CAMP NAVAJO, Ariz. – One Louisiana National Guardsman from the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team recently earned the esteemed Expert Infantryman Badge at Camp Navajo in northern Arizona. Of the 135 that attempted, only six succeeded.

Spc. Brian Smith with A Company, 2nd Battalion,156th Infantry Regiment out of Breaux Bridge, La., earned the badge along with five Guardsmen from Arizona in late July.

“Just testing for [the EIB] is very admirable and a testament to esprit de corps; it speaks to the determination of all the infantrymen who pursue it,” said Lt. Col. Will Rachal, deputy brigade commander of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat and a 2002 recipient of the EIB. “Earning the EIB demonstrates mastery of our craft as infantrymen. Specialist Smith, through this accomplishment, has … set a higher standard for us as infantrymen.”

The Soldiers had to qualify expert with the M-4 semiautomatic rifle, pass the Army physical fitness test, demonstrate proficiency with several weapons systems used by the infantry, complete day and night land navigation, correctly call for artillery fire and demonstrate basic medical treatment of wounds. Proper and sequential execution of all the infantryman’s tasks was required in order to pass this test.

“Attention to detail was a must; it’s the little things that gig you. If you did anything out of sequence, it was a no-go,” said Smith, a native of Lafayette, La.

Smith remarkably completed the course on only two weeks notice. He said the daily testing with only a small margin of error stressed all the competitors. Just a few missteps by any Soldier would result in their dismissal from consideration for the badge.

“Earning the EIB takes tremendous focus and composure,” said Sgt. Maj. John Bonin, brigade operations sergeant major. “Specialist Smith’s ability to adapt to new equipment and standards far surpasses that of most Soldiers his age.”

The competitors had to correctly complete the performance steps with all the weapons systems, but amazingly, Smith was able to complete some of the tasks such as calling for fire with no prior experience.

“I had never seen a javelin missile before,” he said