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Study will lead to tougher rules for NWU boots

Mar. 28, 2013 - 01:02PM   |  
Staff//Sailors are wear-testing a variety of desert boots and will report back in August.
Staff//Sailors are wear-testing a variety of desert boots and will report back in August. (James J. Lee / Staff)
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The following eight units at Navy Expeditionary Combat Command are participating in the boot study:
• Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group
• Explosive Ordnance Disposal Support Unit 2
• Coastal Riverine Squadron 2
• Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command
• Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1
• Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command
• Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11
• Naval Construction Group 2

The Navy is tightening rules on which boots sailors can wear with the desert and woodland Navy working uniform.

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The Navy is tightening rules on which boots sailors can wear with the desert and woodland Navy working uniform.

A trial is underway at Navy Expeditionary Combat Command where sailors are testing five types of boots. Their feedback will determine which characteristics are included in the authorized boots.

The test began in early March and will run through August, a Navy news release said. Because the test is in the early stages, it’s unclear how many boots the Navy will authorize for wear, said Whit Deloach, a spokesman for Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

The current boot requirements are detailed in NAVADMIN 259/11, released in August 2011. The message states that sailors can wear any Navy-certified desert tan or brown brushless boots. Smooth black leather boots are also authorized. All boots must have their shoelaces tucked inside the boot.

These requirements are too vague, according to a Navy release, and that has hastened this review.

Having specific requirements for boots, and fewer options, will ensure safety and may also drive down cost, Deloach said.

Almost 400 sailors are involved in the study in Virginia Beach, Va., which is testing two styles of safety toe boots and three styles of nonsafety toe boots to be worn with the NWU Type II and III, the desert and woodland patterns, said Don Rochon, spokesman for NAVFAC. Feedback from sailors will inform changes to NAVADMIN 259/11, which contains wear instructions for the NWU Type II and III.

Each participant in the study also received a wear schedule, including dates on when to switch between styles of boots.

The boots for the trial are made by Bates, Belleville and Rocky, a Navy release said, though the study is not about picking a specific brand of boot. Rather, the Navy is looking for specific characteristics that are important to sailors, and final authorized boots could include some not worn in the test, Deloach said.

Aspects of the boots being tested in the study are: upper design patterns, lacing hardware, sole attachment methods, sole contours, outsole tread patterns, safety or nonsafety toe, color, and draining and ventilation features, Rochon said.

All boots being worn in the trial are authorized for sailors to wear today.

A diverse group of Navy communities will test the boots at NECC, ranging from coastal riverine forces to Seabees to those with desk jobs, the Navy release said. This will ensure opinions are collected from varied sources.

After the first month of the trial, one sailor at NECC is happy with his boots.

“So far, I only have good things to say about my first boot,” said Chief Navy Counselor (SS/AW) James Snowden, a sailor assigned to NECC who was wearing “Boot C,” a boot with a nonsafety toe. “The last thing you want to happen is to be out in the field with a boot that does not wear properly or cause blisters.”

Because the trial is still ongoing, NECC declined to provide additional sailors to talk with Navy Times about the positives and negatives of each boot.

Following the conclusion of the test period in August, sailors will fill out evaluation forms, which will be submitted to NAVFAC before the end of calendar year 2013.

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