Army to award ‘Expert Soldier Badge’ upon completion of MEPS

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – Army recruits who recently completed basic training at Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) now be eligible to earn the Army’s new “Expert Soldier Badge,” known as the ESB, the Army said in a press release today.

“Our recruits face myriad challenges at MEPS—such as the ASVAB, drug test, and the requirement to make some sort of mark or glyph on a contract,” said Col. Mike Frumpton, who heads the Army’s badge proliferation task force. “We feel it’s necessary to reward the 10 percent of recruits who raise the appropriate hand when they swear-in to the Army.”

The badge, cleverly designed by removing the wreath from the Combat Action Badge (CAB), was introduced in early June to ensure current soldiers unable to meet requirements for one of the Army’s other 150 badges felt included. By opening eligibility to recently graduated recruits, the Army hopes to increase recruiting numbers and prepare future soldiers for the other participation awards they will receive during their first term.

Advocates say that while the ESB may be awarded upon completing MEPS, it will not necessarily be automatic. Both recruits and soldiers must complete a rigorous two hours of activities intended to simulate life as a POG in garrison and while deployed.

“We really tried to capture the essence of soldiering,” said Frumpton. “Among other requirements, soldiers will be tested on their ability to run with a massive hangover or even while still drunk, fill two or more water bottles with urine while standing in a gun turret, and masturbate to completion in a badly overheated port-a-potty prior to having a heat stroke.”

While some praised the addition of a badge exclusively for POGs, others are less convinced.

“I said it when they came out with the CAB and I’ll say it again now, people shouldn’t have a badge for just doing their damn jobs,” said Master Sgt. Timothy Bandy, as he obsessively rubbed his Special Forces tab. “It’s a slippery slope.”

In the spirit of inclusivity, the Army has further stated it will retroactively award the badge to every soldier who has ever completed more than 2,000 hours of online mandatory training for SHARP, EO, or cyber awareness training.

Duffel Blog reporter Dirty contributed to this article.