EWU Army ROTC Alum Becomes First to Earn the Expert Soldier Badge


2019 Eastern Washington University (EWU) graduate 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Haley Isaacson became the first reported alum from the university’s Army ROTC program to be awarded the Expert Soldier Badge during testing held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington.

ESB pinning
2nd Lieutenant Haley Isaacson (right) is pinned her Expert Soldier Badge after testing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

In effort to improve the tactical skills of Soldiers and increase individual and unit readiness, the U.S. Army in Fall 2019 created the new Expert Solider Badge (ESB).  To qualify to take the ESB test, Soldiers  must first pass the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), qualify “Expert” on the M4 or M16 rifle, and be recommended by their chain of command.  During the five day test the participants have to again take the ACFT, conduct day & night land navigation courses, and be tested on their Warrior Tasks and Drills that include:

  • Building fighting positions
  • Search an Enemy Prisoner of War
  • Reacting to an improvised explosive device (IED) attack
  • React to chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear contaminated areas
  • Weapons proficiency lanes
  • Patrolling
  • Conducting a nine-line medical evacuation and many other skills
The Expert Soldier Badge

After completing the Warrior and Tasks and drill testing, the participants then need to complete a 12-mile ruck march in under 3 hours. Standards for the ESB are age and gender neutral.  In October 2019, the Army conducted its first ESB testing where only 11 of 56 soldiers passed.  During testing in November 2019 only 3 out of 100 soldiers passed which demonstrates the difficulty of receiving this badge.  During June 2020 testing at JBLM, 2LT Isaacson was one of only 39 soldiers at JBLM to pass the test held at JBLM from June 22-26.  Major General Xavier T. Brunson and Command Sergeant Major Robin Bolmer, the 7th Infantry Division Command team recognized all the competitors that earned their badge during an award ceremony.

2LT Haley Isaacson (right) poses with her husband 2LT Kyle Isaacson (left) after receiving the Expert Soldier Badge. Both are 2019 graduates of Eastern Washington University’s Army ROTC program.

2LT Isaacson was a Distinguished Military Graduate from EWU’s Army ROTC program in 2019.  She currently serves as a Military Intelligence officer in the 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team at JBLM.  Here is what 2LT Isaacson had to say when asked about any advice she would like to give to EWU Army ROTC Cadets interested in competing for the Expert Soldier Badge in the future:

The ESB is something that challenges you physically and mentally with its 34 stations and a final 12-mile ruck march. It is something that you should go after early in your career to set you apart from your peers. You get the chance to train alongside infantry personnel who are competing for the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) where about 80% of the ESB stations are the same. It is a unique experience to work with soldiers you don’t work with on a day to day basis. Receiving this is very rewarding especially when you’ve been training for it for about a month.

Hard work pays off, Go Eags🦅!

EWU Army ROTC congratulates 2LT Isaacson on her accomplishment. She has definitely shown that she is Eagle Strong!