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As mentioned here is the thread for the EIB Q&A from May's Newsletter. should you have a question post it and we will try to get it answered for you.


IPM: What is the Expert Infantry Badge program and its vision?

Daetrin: The Expert Infantry award program is captured as the second goal of our detachment charter, as I felt the program was so crucial to the detachment's success, it was imperative to write it in. To quote


"2. Develop and create a higher standard of Stormtrooper costume for members to achieve and a "kudo" (e.g. deployed status) as a recognition of that accomplishment (the same way the Mos Eisley Police Department has created a higher standard for MEPD Deployment). The goal of this is not to force people to achieve the higher standard, but rather to demonstrate what the costume can become and recognize those who achieve it."

The intent is to be a step up from base standards, however not to be the highest level of accuracy one can achieve in a 501st costume. If the standards are too high and rely on items that are expensive or very hard to acquire, or that takes a large amount of time, very few people will go for it. This is what happened to Lancer. For these reasons I wanted a program that could be achieved with a moderate level of time, money and skill, yet still push the bar on accuracy.

As you can see, at it's heart it's a recognition program. There really shouldn't be any tangible benefit except the satisfaction that one went above and beyond the base standard, and you were congratulated for it. This is why the only EI-only merchandise is the gold coin; people should be striving for this achievement because they can enjoy the pride in a job well done, and not for any material benefit. By recognition, they can inspire others to do the same.

My thought was that if we ever get to 30% adoption, then we should increase the standards. However, as the base standards were increased, we had to up the EI standards so that they were a bump up, yet again, over base.
I think it's important for people to remember that this is an optional program. Not participating does not make you a lesser member in FISD.


IPM: How and when did this program come about?
Daetrin: When I started in the Legion back in 2005, there was no forum for Stormtroopers. This was a problem for me because I was in a pretty small garrison where we only trooped maybe once a month (or every other month) and the membership was low. Secondly, information was hard to come by. There were a few sites like Dean Plantamura's White Armor Chronicles and also Mike Harrison's site, however there was no place to ask questions. If I asked locally I was told, "When you get in, we'll tell you," or when someone showed me pictures of what I later learned was poor recast AP armor and I asked about its accuracy, the response I got was "Why are you asking so many questions?".
I discovered MEPD (Mos Eisley Police Department - the Sandtrooper forum) and found a whole different experience. On MEPD, they discussed *everything,* and people are very willing to share what they knew. I was shocked. "Is this what the rest of the Legion is like?" I kept wondering why there was no such resource for Stormtroopers, but when I asked if there was a Stormtrooper detachment, I was told, "You're in it." I guess for old-time troopers in big garrisons, people had a lot of local help. Also, as it turned out, it seemed there was a type of old-time trooper who really had no sympathy for new people, and the pattern seemed to be that they let you buy FX armor on Ebay for $1,300 to get started, but once you were in, they told you how to get FX via the Legion for much less, or they told you about AP or RT, which were far more accurate.
My motivation was that I didn't want any other new Stormtrooper to go what I went through - being lied to, or else just had information withheld. I wanted MEPD for TKs. I felt even if the detachment never grew beyond 20 people and only got a few hits a month, if I could save even one person the pain I went through, I'd be happy. And thus, FISD was born.
MEPD also had a really cool deployed program where they encouraged and acknowledged people who wanted to go beyond base 501st standards and up their costume. I thought this was very inspiring and worked out well - even today about 1/3rd of all Sandtroopers are "deployed." The Legion at the time was probably about 90% out of the box FX, and it seemed strange to me that the "backbone of the Legion" would have the lowest costume standards accuracy-wise, and I wanted the EI program to encourage my fellow TKs to take the same leap that those on MEPD did. This is why the program is identical between the two detachments. Being an XO on MEPD back in the day helped ensure that the standards between the programs were comparable.


IPM: Where is the name "Expert Infantry Badge" derived from?
Daetrin: Originally, we put the title to a vote and it was called the "Mark" program, e.g. an ANH trooper was called "Mark IV". This was clearly a case where sometimes the wisdom of the crowd is not so wise. Since no one really liked the name, we rebranded it to "Elite," and you can still find some bin stickers that say FISD Elite on them. However some of the old TKs in the Legion felt we were too "elitist," so it had to change (we were forced to). I started thinking about what would capture the essence of the program. I started my Army career as as infantryman (11B), and thought that the Army's Expert Infantryman award was pretty appropriate. In other words, it was an award that went to any trooper who was able to demonstrate mastery of the basics of his craft. Hmmm...sounds exactly like what I wanted, so I changed the name years ago and the rest is history.
This is also why all the FISD branding derives from the US Army colors and insignia, by the way. When you are the one creating the detachment, you get to design the logo...


IPM: This program has come a long way. Were there any initial struggles such as misconceptions about it, raising awareness, or launching the program?
Daetrin: Absolutely. The primary struggle was that many of the old-time troopers - and thus many in Legion leadership positions - had out-of-the-box FX suits and had no desire to put any more time and effort in to their suits. For whatever reason, they were very reluctant to have new troopers be better looking and more accurate. It's sad because in my mind, it's natural that those that come later would benefit from the pioneering spirit of those that came before. Life is about change, so trying to keep the standards locked in to 2004 seemed very strange to me, especially as other costumes were constantly raising their own accuracy bar.
However, what has happened is that the older members simply retire than upgrade, and for new members going EI isn't much more work than base standards on a new suit, so most of the folks going EI are new members. As they move up in to leadership roles, themselves, through the years, the resistance has faded. Now many detachments have such a program: SLD, SpecOps, IOC, BSN. It may be hard for people to understand that at the time we started, only MEPD has such a program, and FISD was only the second detachment to create one.
A huge thanks has to be paid to Ed DaSilva - the DL after my first term - who battled relentlessly to ensure that the Stormtrooper standards wouldn't be allowed to languish. He is truly an unsung hero of FISD and Stormtrooping costuming in the Legion.


IPM: As of April 2014, the FISD has 369 active Expert Infantries representing 60 garrisons in 28 countries. What are your thoughts on its current state?
Daetrin: I'm pleased that it has grown, although I am disappointed that it has leveled out in the past few years. We have over 2,129 TKs in the Legion. If we were as successful as MEPD, we'd have 700 Expert Infantry members in the Legion. So while 370 sounds impressive, I feel we're only half way there. This is why I'm so passionate that rather than focusing on Centurion or worrying about yet another program, FISD should really concentrate on outreach to help get more Expert Infantry in the Legion. Think about it: if every EI helped just *one* person go EI, we could double the ranks overnight.


IPM: How can one become an Expert Infantry?
Daetrin: It's quite easy. Even someone with an FX suit can achieve it for about $50 and an afternoon of work. For people doing new build suits, there truly is no extra effort involved as all modern suits come EI ready, which was not the case back when FX was popular. All one has to do is read the standard and build their suit accordingly. In fact, when I go to conventions, I see many troopers who are one detail or two away from achieving it, such as not having a D-ring on their blaster. A $1 part and they'd be there.


IPM: Can one apply for multiple costumes?
Daetrin: Absolutely! That's part of the fun.  Only two people have a gold instead of silver star above their EIB badge Todd Maxfield-Matsumto and Glen "gmrhodes13 Rhodes. 
You can achieve extra awards at EIB for each additional version costume approved, this will be shown on the thread title as [APPROVED 2nd], [APPROVED 3rd] and so on and you will receive an extra star for each EIB approval on your profile.  NOTE If you are approved with a second version of a particular costume you do not receive an additional award, there is only 1 award issued for each costume version ie: only 1 Hero, 1 Stunt, 1 HWT, 1 ESB and so on. If you have a second/additional version costume approved you will see "2nd version" and [APPROVED] added to the thread title, no additional profile stars (more info on profile awards here)



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