Sorry for the delayed posts, folks, but I spent the day on the road yesterday and couldn't get to the keyboard to write.
One thing I wanted to make sure all you Joes heading to The 'Stan knew about was the new set of wheels you'll be getting to navigate the jagged peaks and scree-covered gorges of RC-East.
These custom-designed boots made by a couple different manufacturers for the Army including Danner and Welco, feature a rugged Vibram sole with tread specifically designed to grip on the varied mountain terrain in Afghan's east. The all-leather uppers have rugged, grippy outsoles with full toe to shin eyelet lacing -- they essentially mimic hard-core hiking boots available from reputable climbing equipment companies like Lowa, Scarpa and Asolo.
One cool thing about these boots is that the heel has a special design that gives Joes extra purchase on descent. The heel is sort of hooked on the forward edge, helping grab rock and roots when a fully laden Soldier is working his way down to the whadi.
PEO Soldier's Col. Bill Cole said the boots have been trickling into theater for about seven months so far, with troops from the 10th Mountain receiving one pair per Soldier along with his or her normal compliment of straight up combat boots (and he added that EVERY Soldier was getting them, not just combat arms Joes). But Cole also offered the possibility that every Soldier deploying to the Afghan theater will receive two pairs in his or her kit bag.
As always, we'd love to hear from our readers who've actually used these boots in the field and get the gouge on what they think.