Camp Red Cloud, South Korea- A slender piece of shiny metallic brass pierces the green and brown patterned material. As the metal passes through the surface of a Republic of Korea army female officer’s it connects with the clasp and is fastened in place.
The sun shows the depth of her brown eyes as she stood at the position of attention as the only female on the field. Her breathing was even and steady but under the surface pride and honor runs ramped through her veins.
The 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division gave U.S. and ROKA Soldiers and ROKA the chance to earn the U.S. Expert Infantry Badge on Camp Casey, South Korea, May 23-26.
The purpose of the EIB is to recognize infantrymen who have demonstrated a mastery of critical task that build the core foundation of individual proficiency that allow them to locate, close with and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver and repel an enemy assault through fire and close combat.
“I passed the ROKA’s EIB then found out that the U.S. Army’s version lasted longer,” said 1st Lt. Jung, Ji Eun an ROKA infantryman and a Seoul native, 2nd Company, 115th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 90th Mech. Inf. Brigade, 30th Mech. Inf. Division. “I wanted to compare the two versions, further my understanding of the views that the U.S. Soldiers have, and apply them with my own experience.”
To be awarded the EIB Solders must complete a number of prerequisites.
“Before a Soldier can get their foot in the door they have to be an infantryman, meet the height and weight requirement, and fire expert with their assigned weapon system,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richie Pozo, EIB noncommissioned officer in charge and New York City native, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Divisions. “Only four females attempted to earn the EIB badge, all ROKA, but only one was able to get in.”
Jung was the first female ROKA officer to earn the Army EIB badge.
“There are many challenges that she [1st Lt. Jung] will face in the infantry world but It’s great thing that she made it,” said Pfc. Seung Eun Song, a logistic specialist and a Seoul, South Korea and Tacoma, Washington native, Headquarters Support Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Inf. Div. Combined.
To qualify for the EIB the male Army physical fitness test standards applied to all participants according to their age.
“Recently females have been allowed to become infantrymen, and being held to a male standard made it harder to pass the APFT,” said Jung. “I’m personally interested in working out and exercising and this allowed me to pass.”
Motivation and the warrior spirt can be the extra push needed by a Soldier in order to succeed.
“She was motivated, she was just as motivated as the U.S. 11Bs - infantry males,” said Pozo. “I think it is part of their culture, they want to get after it and be the best at everything they do.”
“They [the ROKA Soldiers] volunteered to come here and earn the badge whereas some other Soldiers don’t want to do it,” said Pozo.
Jung earning the EIB badge can help bridge generational gaps.
“In the South Korean culture the older generation believes that the military is only for men, and with time the newer generation can come to accept women in combat arms,” said Song. “That will help prove that female Soldiers can do as much or more than male soldiers.”
The ROK army came to compete and made a lasting impression.
“It’s an honor to watch her from the training week to her passing the road march, it was a great thing to see,” said Pozo. “I’m sending congratulation to her for being the first ROK female officer to earn her EIB.”
It is the 2nd Infantry Division’s imperative to serve honorably and this extends beyond the combined division.
“I have both the U.S. and the ROKA EIB and it’s a personal honor,” said Jung. “This will help me lead, educate, and train others when I become a commander one day.”
To be able to wear the EIB Badge is an honor that only the elite and those who train like their lives depend on it, can accomplish.
“I will do the best I can to achieve great results not only as a female Soldier but as a representative of the Republic of Korea army,” said Jung.