When Army Times published an article yesterday saying the “Army needs to consider adopting a combat boot specifically designed for female Soldiers” there was an immediate outcry from other warfighters on social media; many it seems who are tired of female Soldiers getting special considerations.
The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness has added a line-item to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act regarding combat boots. They asked for a survey of some 2,000 female Soldiers for their opinions on the current combat boot available to women. The survey will include questions on sizing and fit as well as the performance of the combat boot issued to them. The Subcommittee wants the survey and results done by Sept. 1, 2016. Most find it curious that a House Subcommittee had to be convened to discuss combat boots in general and female boots in particular. Of interest, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act also includes a provisions for sage grouse.
In an email submission to the Subcommittee regarding the female combat boot issue, a spokesperson for Rep. Madeleine Bordolla (D) of Guam wrote:
The Army is the only service that does not use female-specific lasts — the mold/model around which the boot is built — to design their combat footwear. Instead, the Army uses lasts designed for male feet, despite women having served in combat for years.”
And then the online comments about the boots began, ranging from funny to hateful:
- Suck it up buttercup. Welcome to the world of flat feet.
- The Army Combat Boot isn’t male-friendly either, but I wore those suckers for 7 years
- Boo-freaking-hoo! You don’t like Army issue boots, go by a different pair!
- Wtf makes a shoe not “female friendly?” Do the current ones make inappropriate remarks? It’s a gd shoe
The combat boot discussion shows that gender issues in the military are far from being in the rear-view mirror, no matter what the Joint Chiefs and Pentagon put out to the media. Just today, the Department of Defense rolled out a department-wide strategy to prevent retaliation associated with reporting sexual assault or harassment and in February, Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus was “scolded” by Senators for causing drama in the Marine Corps when he explained why he recommended gender separate training at boot camp.
Of note, Soldiers are not restricted to wearing the boots they are issued.