AUGUSTA, Ga. – Soldiers from Fort Gordon, Georgia and Georgia Tech cadets participated in the 2021 Norwegian Foot March, an 18.6 mile or 30 km ruck march along the Savanah River, stepping off from the Savannah Rapids Park at 1 a.m. on May 7.
The Soldiers had to use a military-style ruck weighing at least 25 pounds and complete the foot march in the required time, based on gender and age, and complete a full workday to earn the right to wear the Norwegian Foot March Badge on their Army Service Uniform, per AR 600-8-22, Military Awards.
Charlie Company (Centurions), 782nd Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion (Cyber), 780th MI Brigade, took the lead in organizing the event at Fort Gordon and Army Spc. Alex Guinan, the lead organizer, said more than 230 Soldiers signed up for the Norwegian Foot March.
“It is a good event that shows our interest in the traditions of our foreign Allies,” said Guinan. “Since the Norwegians opened the event up, over 200 units have made plans to conduct the foot march from throughout the Army’s sphere of influence – from Japan, California, Maryland, Georgia, and Germany – there are units setting up and conducting the event. Norway is also a member of NATO, so it strengthens the bonds of the Alliance. “
The Norwegian Foot march was first held in 1915 during WWI to move troops great distances during the night to respond quickly to any threats to Norwegian Soil. The reason for a full workday is to simulate moving into a warzone and being committed into a fight.
Historically, the Norwegian Foot March must be overseen by a representative from the Royal Norwegian Army; however, due to the COVID pandemic, the Norwegian Army has relaxed this requirement. Recently, a soldier from the Office of the Defense Attaché, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Washington D.C., authorized Norwegian Foot March events at nine locations throughout the United States to include Fort Gordon.
An Army officer with the 704th MI Brigade, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, has worked with the Norwegian Army for the past few foot march events held at Meade and connected Guinan with his contact at the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
“I just wanted to set up the event to give Soldiers an opportunity to earn a foreign badge. I assumed the Soldiers at my unit didn’t get many opportunities to earn one and I thought it would be a cool deal,” said Guinan. “It was originally supposed to be a 782nd MI Battalion event only, but eventually more and more units jumped on and before I knew it, we had a good number of other units join in.”