Putting their best foot forward – Canadian Armed Forces expanding options with an individual combat boot purchase program

Article / July 27, 2018 / Project number: 18-0287

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By Antonia Lafkas, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members will soon be able to step up their choices when it comes to their combat boots.

The CAF has a new program to equip eligible members with temperate boots that better meet individual fit, form and functional requirements. Eligibility for the program is limited to personnel entitled to wear combat boots as part of their regular duties.

Central to this decision is the CAF’s fundamental commitment to ensuring that personnel are properly equipped and ready to serve. Offering entitled members greater flexibility and choice when it comes to operational footwear will help match the right footwear with each individual, enhancing ability to perform.

As of late summer 2018, the first stage of the new boot program will give eligible personnel a personalized fit and a choice of boot styles that will not only fit well, but perform well in the field. Within guidelines, they will be able to purchase boots of their choice that meet specific criteria and submit claims for reimbursement through their units.

The second stage of this program will include a pre-qualified product list, followed by the transition to an online ordering model similar to the way Distinctive Environmental Uniforms are currently managed.

Temperate boots are intended for cool and warm weather conditions, such as those experienced in most parts of Canada during the spring, summer and fall. Specialized footwear such as steel-toed boots or boots designed specifically for hot, wet or cold weather are not included in this program.

Boots purchased under this program must conform to the following guidelines:

  • The preferred boot colour is brown, however black and tan are acceptable.
  • The boot must be designed to perform well in temperate conditions between +4oC and +35oC.
  • Boot height from the side of the combat boot measured from the inside of the boot must be a minimum of 15 cm to a maximum of 23 cm.
  • The boot must have a non-marking nitrile rubber outsole that is resistant to fuel, oil and acid.

Lieutenant-Colonel Robin Chénard leads the combat boot working group. “Equipping a diverse team of military members comes with a number of complexities. We are finding that a one-size-fits-all approach is not practical when it comes to operational footwear,” he said.

“The intention of this program is to provide personnel with boots that will meet their individual needs, as well as the needs of service. We hope that this expanded choice will add value and help our members always remain strong, proud and ready to serve."

Some details of the program are still under development. Combat boots for recruits will still be drawn from the existing national inventory and supplied through training facilities. Once entitled personnel have successfully completed their Basic Military Qualification, they will be permitted to buy boots under the plan and be reimbursed for this expense.

The CAF is working to develop this arrangement and to have it take effect as soon as possible. Further information will become available once the program is in place. A CANFORGEN (Canadian Forces General message) and a series of frequently asked questions will be provided to provide necessary details and guidance.

Canadian Army Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Durnford, the Regimental Sergeant Major for 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, has been involved in the development of the new program and emphasizes the importance of this new approach.

“Making sure our members have the combat boots that are best suited to their operating environment must include boots that best suit their personal needs,” he said. “It is critical to make sure they are equipped for success.”

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