Sgt. Major of the Army Raymond Chandler III recently issued guidance to help clarify the Army's position on commercial-off-the-shelf combat boots.
"There has been misunderstanding with the ALARACT Message 140/2007 with leaders in interpreting which COTS boots are authorized and which are not," Chandler wrote in a document that was posted on Facebook's Army NCO Support page. "My intent is to add clarity to the ALARACT message giving leaders a better understanding of which boots are authorized for wear and why."
There are many COTS boots that meet Army guidelines, Chandler wrote.
"Some examples of these items include, but are not limited to, the Belleville Model 390, the 8-inch Danner Desert TFX, the 8-inch Oakley S.I. Assault Boot as well as many other more traditional Army tan combat boot styles. The purpose of listing these items here is to give examples of styles that fall within the guidelines and authorization as optional to wear," Chandler wrote.
Program Executive Office Soldier and U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center do not have a certification process for boots. AR 670-1 and ALARACT messages provide guidance on what approved standards industry uses to manufacturer boots that are authorized for wear.
Here's what to look for, according to Chandler:
"The Army authorizes COTS boots as long as they are between 8 to 10 inches in height and made of tan rough side out of cattle hide leather, with a plain toe, and with a soling system similar in color to the tan upper materials. The soling materials cannot exceed two inches in height, when measured from the bottom of the outsole, and cannot extend up the back of the heel of the boot or over the top of the toe."
"The exterior of the upper boot cannot contain mesh but must be constructed of all leather or a combination of leather and non-mesh fabric. Boots with metal or plastic cleats in the bottom of the soles and sewn-in or laced-in zippers or velcro inserts are not authorized."
"There are other leathers, such as pigskin, that do not meet the performance criteria of cattle hide. Cattle hide leather is more durable, and provides better performance in combat over pigskin. Soldiers should be aware that some companies sell 'Warrior Leather" which is a common-use name for pigskin leather."
"Rubber and polyether polyurethane are the only outsole materials authorized. Rubber and polyether polyurethane are the only outsole materials that currently meet the need for durability and traction on surfaces in multiple environments and temperature ranges, other materials, which may be of a lighter weight, do not meet soldiers performance standards."
PEO Soldier and NSRDEC establish high quality standards for both the end items and component materials going into our combat boots, according to Chandler. Current Army footwear is designed to be durable and provide the functionality needed by soldiers in current and potential future operational environments. This process ensures that soldiers have functional boots (the NSN ones) to accomplish their mission.
PEO Soldier and NSRDEC maintain a close relationship with the footwear buyers at AAFES to ensure they are not buying anything for MCSS that does not meet the Army Uniform requirements, he said.
The individual soldier is responsible for buying authorized boots that meet Army requirements. Leaders have the responsibility of ensuring optional footwear meets Army requirements, Chandler wrote.
AR 670-I, Appendix E requires all soldiers to have one pair of each of the Clothing Initial Issue (CII) Bag item boots. This requirement includes both the Army Combat Boot (Hot Weather) and the Army Combat Boot (Temperate Weather). Any optional footwear discussed above that unit commanders authorize does not relieve soldiers of their requirement to possess one pair of each of CII boots.