Combat boot purchase program has CAF personnel putting their best foot forward

Just like everyday footwear, eventually, there comes a time when shoes need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear. Same goes for Canadian Armed Forces members, eventually, their boots need replacing.

As the old boot project was closing, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Brooks said an opportunity arose to adopt a new way to ensure the 55,000 soldiers wearing combat boots, are getting the necessary equipment for their job.

The old way Lt.-Col. Brooks refers to is the method of exchanging old boots at the local base clothing store, for a new pair. The boots at the base clothing store were purchased in bulk through national contracts, with very little styles to choose from.

“While this method for supplying boots remains an option we can access if needed, the new process increases access to a much wider range of styles and types of combat boots for CAF members to better meet the unique requirements of each,” he added.

For the fiscal year (April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019), the CAF will be testing the new boot purchase program.

“Every individual has unique requirements for footwear and the previous way of providing boots, we hit the average, and now we’re trying more to increase our combat effectiveness,” Lt.-Col. Brooks added. “Because we were nearing completion of existing boot delivery, we said now’s an opportunity for us to engage in a different way of delivering these boots.”

Phase II of the program will be to have a pre-qualified product list eventually followed by transitioning to an online model much like the one currently in place for Distinctive Environmental Uniform (DEU) items.

Soldiers are allowed to purchase a pair of boots that meet their individual footwear needs, as long as they meet the requirements for an acceptable combat boot:

• Brown is the preferred colour, but black and tan are accepted.
• The boot must be designed for optimal performance in various temperate conditions between 4 C and 35 C.
• 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 resistant to fuel, oil, and acid.

Should the boots not meet the requirements to make the cut as a combat boot, it creates administrative problems and should be avoided by any means. Soldiers are encouraged to speak with someone in their chain of command for advice before making their boot purchase. If boots were purchased beforehand and do not meet the requirements, the individual is advised to return or exchange them for a different pair.

After a soldier finds the right pair of boots, the purchase is made, and they are entitled to a reimbursement of $340 before taxes. Anything above that price point, the individual is responsible for the remaining costs.

Lt.-Col. Brooks said the program isn’t a one-for-one boot trading program, as boots wear out within the fiscal year, soldiers are entitled to have them replaced.

“That’s what we’re doing. We’re giving people boots to replace the ones that have worn out,” he said.

Boots need to be replaced when they’ve lost their protective qualities (i.e., The outer lining and/or sole is punctured or worn; little to no tread wear; and the lining is torn or worn thin), or the old boots have a questionable appearance or characteristics (i.e., Loose or broken components; deep cracks or loss of adhesion; discomfort in the foot from poking edges; and significant discolouration.)

The best part, the program’s claim process is no different from a regular claim. Provided the unit’s cashier isn’t too busy, claims should be processed quickly.

Above Image: Members of 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment advance toward contact during a live fire exercise during the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise at Camp Pendleton, California, July 6, 2018. Photo: Ordinary Seaman Justin Spinello, 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta



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