FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Nearly 300 Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines gathered here on April 2 at 4 a.m. to participate in Marsjmerket, also known as the Norwegian Foot March.
To earn the coveted Norwegian foot-march skill insignia, participants complete an 18.6 mile course wearing a combat uniform and weighted 25-pound rucksack. They must finish the march within 4 hours 30 minutes, and 6 hours, depending on age and sex.
The endurance event traces its origins to World War I. Participants conducted the march according to guidelines established by the Norwegian Armed Forces.
The 3200th Strategic Intelligence Group, Military Intelligence Readiness Command organized the event to earn the authorized foreign badge in coordination with the Royal Norwegian Embassy’s Office of the Defense Attaché in Washington, D.C.
This year’s event was particularly significant to Soldiers of the 3200th Strategic Intelligence Group (SIG). The unit’s military intelligence professionals spent the last 14 months supporting the U.S. DOD’s joint staff response to the war in Ukraine. The leadership of the Army Reserve element jumped at the chance and relished the challenge to plan and execute joint service training with a critical NATO partner.
The event also necessitated coordination between Fort Belvoir garrison military police, medics, and special forces recruiters. The march required dozens of support staff.
This year’s event resulted in an 87 percent increase in participants compared to the last Norwegian Foot March held at Fort Belvoir.
Of 282 competitors, 203 were awarded the Norwegian Foot March badge in bronze. Twenty-three participants completed their second march and earned the distinctive badge in silver.
Participants ranged in age from 19 to 56. They included enlisted personnel and officers between the ranks of private first class and major general.
1st Lt. Ellis Bronstein, a medical student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, finished first with a time of 3 hours and 2 minutes.
“Everyone out here decided to be a soldier first before they picked a job or specialty,” said Col. Martin Flynn, commander of the 3200th SIG. “We are tapping into that strength today and training hard.”
This event marked the second consecutive year that the 3200th SIG organized a Norwegian Foot March open to the greater Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia military communities.