FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico – Staff Sgt. Edward Singh Chollet, assigned to the 475th Engineer Company, U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, is the first and only reservist from the island to be awarded the Expert Soldier Badge May 15.
The ESB is an equivalent of the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Field Medical Badge; it is designed to recognize excellence in soldier combat kkills, highlight the soldier’s proficiency and expertise and increase unit/individual readiness. The events on which soldiers are tested originate mainly from the EIB and are divided into three parts: Weapons skills, medical skills and patrolling skills.
Aside from that, contestants are also graded on day and night land navigation, the Army Combat Fitness Test, and a 12-mile ruck march.
“The events are tough but doable,” Singh said. “The instructors we had with us were brought from the active-duty component, and they showed us it’s more efficient to focus on one event at a time.”
The ESB was held in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, through a period of 10 days; it was the first time that USAR soldiers participated in the competition since it was exclusively for the active-duty component.
The competition started with 26 soldiers, each event was evaluated on a “go” or “no-go” basis, and only six were awarded the badge — three of those six belonging to the reserve component.
Singh, who also competed in the 2019 Best Warrior Competition and won second place at the USAR level, said he is always ready, constantly training and maintains his soldiering skills by supporting other Best Warrior Competitions held on the island.
“I was very anxious and stressed throughout the whole event,” Singh said. “When I finally crossed the finish line of the 12-mile ruck march, I was incredibly relieved and simultaneously so excited, physically my body was in excruciating pain, but my mind was overwhelmed with emotion.”
To qualify for the ESB, soldiers must pass an ACFT, qualify as “expert” on the M4/M16 rifle, and be recommended by their chain of command.
“As a reserve soldier, it’s our job to support the active duty component, so whenever we are called, we should already be ready to go,” Singh said. “My tip for those who would like to compete for the ESB is to take advantage of the Army’s opportunities, train hard, be curious and put your skills into practice as much as possible.”
The U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico is a dedicated Federal Reserve force that is ready today and prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.