DANCON MARCH 2022 || Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo

DANCON March
Participants line up to begin the march.

What is a DANCON March? 
DANCON is short for Danish Contingent. The DANCON March is a tradition that goes back to 1972 when the Royal Danish Army was deployed in Cyprus. There is a DANCON event where ever the Danish Contingent mission takes them. The march has taken place in Afghanistan, Bosnia,  Croatia, Kosovo, and Iraq, to name a few. 
The march measures the Army's physical preparedness and provides a social event. The march route is located in the countryside close to the Danish Camp.  The march serves as a sign of mutual trust between the local residents and the Danish Contingent. Proceeds from each march are donated to wounded Danish Soldiers and veteran programs.

DANCON March requirements:
  • 25km route by foot in varying terrain.
  • 10kg dry weighted pack. In addition to the 10kg is food, water, socks, etc. 
  • Weapons can be part of the load.
  • March must be done in military uniform and boots.
  • 8 hours to complete
Can I wear the medal on my uniform?

The short answer for U.S. Military personnel is no. The DANCON medal is only "honorary" and can only be accepted and retained. It's a reminder that you had type II fun and for bragging rights that you did something cool. Not being able to wear the medal shouldn't stop you from doing the march. It's more to it than that. Remember, this is a social event with multi-national troops. It is also a fundraiser for the Danish veteran programs. 

Does the medal change for each march? 

Yes, every Danish Contingent designs their own depending on regimental traditions. 



DANCON March
Participants come from different partner nations


DANCON March Camp Novo Selo

There was a 2-hour window to get everyone checked in.  We weighed our packs to meet the official weight and then we check-in. The Danish Army has its process down to a science. During the check-in, it's interesting to see the different uniforms and equipment each army has. We might look different and are equipped differently, but all Soldiers are the same deep down.

There were approximately 900 participants in the march hosted by the Danish Contingent. Participants were from the following partner nations. Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States. I am sure I missed a few others.

Before I departed the camp, I loaded my pockets with candy to hand out to the kids in the villages. I enjoyed handing out candy to the kids. It also surprised me that all the kids I met could speak English. While I only gave a couple of pieces of candy per child. I did run out of candy way before I finished the course. If you happen to do a DANCON don't forget to take a big bag of candy. 

DANCON March
The march takes us to the outskirts of Maxhunaj.


While I knew this event was going to be tuff. I was excited to march into the countryside and walk through small farming villages. As we left camp the march takes us to the outskirts of the village of Maxhunaj. I would call Maxhunaj a small town than a village. We follow a ribbon of road that makes its way through fields that have not been worked for spring planting.

As I make my way over the route. I feel that I have been invited into another world. One that takes a step back in time. The villages seem to be sleepy this morning. But as we continue to march the villagers start to come out to greet us. 


DANCON March
Looking back to Maxhunaj and the hundreds of marchers.



DANCON March
It's hard to explain what marching with so many people is like.


Looking ahead, I see the toxic smoke of someone burning their trash on the side of a field. This is a common sight to see in Kosovo. I don't believe a day has gone by that I haven't seen a fire burning. We turn and make our way up to our first hill climb of the day. There will be more hills to climb over the next 25km route.

DANCON March
As the fire burns, we will start the first climb of the day.


DANCON March
This is where we start to spread out a bit.



DANCON March
A female Soldier from Hungary had a tactical Hello Kitty morale patch.

The Hello Kitty patch was a conversation starter with the Hungarian Soldier. She told me where I could find one. I ended up later purchasing the same patch to send home to my daughter.

DANCON March
Clicking off the kilometers and setting our sites in another village.



DANCON March

In every village, town, and city in Kosovo. You will find a multitude of homes and structures that are incomplete. In the picture below you will notice that the gable end of the building is not finished. This is because you don't pay taxes on an unfinished building. 


DANCON March
Though this village runs a drain ditch which is just full of trash.

Kosovo is rich in history and beauty. It seems that most of the villages that we marched through are simple farming communities. The people work hard and are thankful for our presence. 


DANCON March
One of the many 1600 war memorials in Kosovo.

There are over 1600 war memorials in Kosovo that are related to the 1998-1999 war. Most of these memorials are put up by family, and friends. There is no formal process or legal procedure to gain permission to erect a memorial or public debate about the memorial.

I would assume that this memorial was erected by the village. They see people from their villages as heroes.


DANCON March
Going down was as hard as going up the mountain

Between the village of Studime e Eperma and Cecelija. There happens to be a mountain that the route goes over. This was a soul crusher of a climb! At one point the guy next to me said his watch was showing we were almost at 3000ft. 


DANCON March
The village of Cecelija. 

Looking down onto the village of Cecelija. You can see the other participants already in the town. Going down the mountain was just as hard as the climb up. Once we march through the town we were at the halfway point. 



DANCON March
Kopleksi Memorial in the village of Cecelija.

You can tell from this memorial that you are in an ethnic Albanian village because of the Albanian flag. This is the largest memorial that I have seen up to this point from a ground perspective. I have seen sites that take up a hilltop that I have seen from the air. 



DANCON March
This is what dedication to service looks like. Photo by SSG Hunt.

I saved this picture for last. We all have our challenges in life, and the DANCON march will do that to you. But some challenges motivate others to dig deeper. I am amazed at the warrior spirit of MAJ Pitcher and his dedication to the service to our Nation. 

Now It's Your Turn-

Have you completed a DANCON March? Have you explored Kosovo?

To see more photos from the DANCON March, navigate over to Navigate to Your Adventure on Flickr

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