Thank you to all who participated in the last State of NCO Development Town Hall, hosted by Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport. Both of us enjoyed engaging in robust dialog about the concept of the Expert Action Badge. A test of concept for the EAB was recently conducted at Joint Base Lewis-McChord,Washington, and if further evaluations indicate the concept meets the intent, eligible Soldiers may have the opportunity to earn the badge as early as 2019. Candidates taking on the challenge will be tested on critical skills and tasks that will certify them as experts. Over a one-week train up period, followed by a five-day rigorous testing phase, they will take an Army Physical Fitness Test and conduct a 12-mile foot march, day and night land navigation courses, along with more than 30 tasks from Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills and the Mission Essential Task List. These must be accomplished to standards that are well above established norms.
The objectives of the EAB are to:
- Improve overall readiness of all three components (Active, Reserve, National Guard).
- Recognize the next generation of competent and committed leaders who thrive in chaos, adapt, and win in a complex world.
- Provide all eligible Soldiers the opportunity to compete for the certification of their Soldier skills annually. If qualifications standards are met, the EAB will be awarded.
- Reinforce basic Soldier skills across the enterprise.
- Develop a cohesive team of Army Professionals who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and chaos.
- Instill confidence and pride in the force and in the individuals who will achieve this high honor.
Why should three career management fields, infantry, Special Forces and medics, be the only ones with such a great opportunity to engage in training and certification of professional Soldier skills? We developed the EAB to address the majority of the Army, who are not eligible for the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Expert Medical Field Badge.
I know there is a lot of skepticism for the idea of adding another badge, and it has been debated. However, controversy is not a reason for not adding the right badge. The right badge is intended to provide incentive to Soldiers and commanders to invest in training and improve the Army. Looking at a comparison chart (below) of the EAB concept versus the EIB and EFMB illuminates the difficulty level associated with completing the EAB. This presents an excellent way for commands to focus training on WTBDs, and instill greater discipline across the force as a whole. All Soldiers should be excited by the chance to live and validate the Soldier’s Creed.
“I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.”
I look forward to the quick approval of the EAB, or something like it, and the positive effects it will have on morale, force readiness and individual Soldier skills. It is an honor to put forth a new challenge for such a large portion of the Army that previously did not have the opportunity to test, but now could be recognized for their competence, character and commitment to the profession. This challenge recognizes their expert knowledge and practices, and prepares them for an uncertain future, while optimizing the performance of committed Soldiers through innovation and investment in education, training and leader development.