FORT CARSON, Colo. - From April 8th through the 19th, combat medics from across the 4th Infantry Division worked to achieve one of the Army's most difficult badges, the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB) in the southern training areas of Fort Carson.

It is day 11, and the final eight out of an original 128 competitors are at the finish line of their last event: the 12-mile road march. With an average pass rate of 13 percent, the EFMB is considered one of the most difficult and prestigious badges to earn in the Army.

"This is an incredibly difficult training event that is designed to test your physical toughness and mental resiliency," said Lt. Col. Richard P. Milloy, Commander, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Established in June 1965, the EFMB was designed as an award of recognition for outstanding performance and exceptional competence for Soldiers serving in the medical field.

"Regardless of whether someone walks away with the badge or not, they're a better Soldier and medic from this experience," Milloy asserted.

The competition consists of a rigorous two week standardization and testing schedule that is specifically designed to examine Soldiers' physical endurance, attention to detail, and mental stamina. Tested events include an Army physical fitness test (with a minimum of 80 points in each event), a written test, day and night land navigation, a series of combat testing lanes (CTLs) and 12-mile road march.

"This is my second time attempting to earn this badge," said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Fuqua, a combat medic and the Evacuation Platoon Sergeant for C Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

This candidate population represented 18 separate Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) across the Army Medical Department and was composed of 76.7% 68Ws (combat medics). The top three MOS after 68W were 70B (field health assistants) at 6.2%, 68C (nurses) at 3.9%, and 68P (x-ray technicians) at 2.3%.

"I am extremely happy to be one of the eight that were able to complete this competition and earn my EFMB," said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Fuqua, a combat medic and the evacuation platoon sergeant for C Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "Every combat medic should strive to earn this coveted badge and I am proud to be among the few that have."

"The EFMB is a difficult badge to earn and that is what makes it so coveted," said Lt. Col. Christopher Besser, Troop Battalion commander of Evans Army Community Hospital. "Throughout the entire process, whether you are cadre or a candidate, it can only be achieved through focus, perseverance and competence."

Areas of testing are drawn from field medic core competencies in tactical combat casualty care (TC3), communications, warrior skills and medical evacuation. Each of these areas are broken down into a corresponding number of tasks and performance measures. A single misstep or incorrectly spoken pro-word means a "No Go" for the overall task.

"Even when things don't go as planned and additional stressors are introduced, the conditions for success are there and success is left up to the individual to achieve," Besser said. "This installation's consistent team mentality is what made every event during testing successful and I have not, nor could not, be at a better installation for EFMB."