TYR Tactical

SMA Chandler’s Latest Leaders Book Notes – Boots

SMA Raymond Chandler issues some amplifying guidance on what footwear is acceptable for wear with Army uniforms. I’m glad he has issued this guidance because he explains why certain footwear features are or are not acceptable. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the rules, this is great example of NCO leadership. It’s not just, “here are the rules”, but also an explanation of why the rules are there. His communication to the enlisted force goes a long way to explaining this graphic that has been making the rounds.



In this edition of my leader book notes I would like to inform leaders of the authorized and unauthorized Commercial-Of-The-Shelf (COTS) and Army issued boots for wear with the ACUs.

There has been misunderstanding with the ALARACT Message 140/2007 with leaders in interpreting which COTS boots are authorized and which are not. My intent is to add clarity to the ALARACT message giving leaders a better understanding of which boots are authorized for wear and why.

With regard to pure COTS items, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier and U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) 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. This includes what material requirements have to be met to ensure boots meet the durability and performance requirements for Soldiers. These guidelines provide the aesthetic requirements to ensure any authorized items maintain uniform standards for our Soldiers.

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 (See attached pictures), 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 (See attached pictures). 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.

There are many COTS items available that meet the aesthetic guidelines. 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 (See attached pictures). The purpose of listing these items here is to give examples of styles that fall within the guidelines and authorization as optional to wear.

PEO Soldier and NSRDEC establish high quality standards for both the end items and component materials going into our combat boots. 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. If AAFES has an interest in selling a specific COTS boot in MCSS, they forward PEO Soldier and NSRDEC a pair of the specified boots. PEO Soldier and NSRDEC provide the AAFES footwear buyers feedback if the boots do or do not meet Army requirements. Our Military Clothing Sales Stores stock items that are authorized for wear by other services, whose mission requirements are different than ours Because of these different mission requirements not all boots carried in our MCSSs are authorized for wear by our Soldiers.

The individual Soldier is responsible for buying authorized boots that meet Army requirements, Leaders have the responsibility of ensuring optional footwear meets Army requirements. 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.

The Army develops and issues Soldiers the best equipment available for accomplishment of their mission COTS items provide a different aesthetic look compared to the NSN footwear and or contain material components that were selected for business reasons and not always aimed at improved performance.

The attached slides provide examples of authorized and unauthorized boots. These slides do not endorse these individual companies but provide leaders a method of verifying authorized boots for wear. Currently there are hundreds of companies producing desert tan boots.

Leaders, let’s make sure our Soldiers are wearing the proper boots.

Army Strong! HOOAH!



74 Responses to “SMA Chandler’s Latest Leaders Book Notes – Boots”

  1. Mav says:

    Thanks for posting this, SSD. It provides some clarity and the reasoning behind certain things. I’d like to pass this on to my soldiers. One question, are we still anticipating a new boot color with the upcoming uniform change? I’d hate to see anybody going out and wasting their money on boots that will be unauthorized before they even get broken in. Thanks.

    • SSD says:

      We do anticipate a new boot color but no one has released official guidance so my advice is; if you need a new pair of boots, buy them. The transition period will take awhile and you’ll get full use out of them. You aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and your new boots be unauthorized.

    • LC says:

      tell them to not even think about buying new boots (they shouldn’t be anyways). They get boots issued that work perfectly fine.

      • SSD says:

        The active force uses their annual clothing allowance to replace worn out clothing bag issue items including footwear. Regardless of whether they choose to wear the issue boot or a commercial alternative, they it’s still maintain pairs of the issue footwear.

        • LC says:

          Yeah I know. My point is that there really is no reason to buy commercial alternatives.

  2. Mark says:

    The Army, and the military in general, has been pretty wide open WRT footwear.

    Just looking back 30 years and considering what we were allowed to use, and fast forward to now, the GI items are now of pretty decent quality.

  3. Middian says:

    Two questions:

    1. Why is the Army putting in so much time and concern if a soldier wants to buy a boot that, according to them, “won’t last as long”?

    2. In regards to the paragraph about the Army buying the best equipment for the job: this seems like a stretch to me. Isn’t it more like “good equipment” that past the tests and were the cheapest?

    • SSD says:

      Because Joe will buy the cheapest boot he can in order to save a buck. SSD readers are different. They give a damn about their equipment. But, everyone of you knows some knucklehead in your unit who is more concerned about beer than being a Soldier. If he works for you, you spend too much time attending the his antics. If you work with him, you spend too much time fixing his mistakes. If you work for him, God help you. Not everyone in uniform is switched on. What most consider micromanagement was created to mitigate the damage said knucklehead can do. To get away from that stuff I sought out assignments in organizations that cared less about uniforms and more about results. It might not work for everyone, but it’s a technique.

      • The Stig says:

        I can’t think of an unauthorized boot that is being worn that is less expensive than the issued boot. Most people are spending more for comfort, not trying to save a buck.

      • Barney Rubble says:

        Boy, the army buying good quality boots? That statement made me laugh so hard I nearly spit soda through my nose. Has any one tried wearing the winter temprate boots without liner? Makes feet sweat and the boots with out the liner the boots do not fit right. ( And NG/Reserve are issed boots without liners) That is not to mention very little ankle support. Boy,as the draw down ensues, uncle sham really screws ya, huh?

    • straps says:

      You’re halfway through a rotation in an austere, remote location and PV2 Snuffy–who was on pallet guard before you flew (NOW you know why he didn’t complain, and why you had to re-build his squad’s pallet)–replaced his 2nd pair of boots (and 3rd and 4th set of uniforms, and his sleeping mat) with a bunch of gaming gear (he heard a rumor about commercial lodging)–had a wardrobe malfunction when his Magnums fell apart.

      Snuffies always seem to have smaller, larger or freakishly wider feet than everyone else. And Small-Short (or Large-XLong) pants. And 6-1/8 (or 8-1/4) hat sizes.

      So you call a friend who gets a pair of (legal) boots to you on a log drop. Snuffy gets a blister while they’re breaking in and it infects because Snuffy isn’t a fan of bathing in general, and DEFINITELY doesn’t do field hygeine (he brought ONE pair of [possibly] white cotton socks). He’s MEDEVAC’d to Landstuhl. You and the CoC above you get relieved for cause. In the absense of Developmental Counseling (Snuffy was REALLY HELPFUL with the old Command Team’s files) Snuffy makes PFC. Then commissions.

    • LC says:

      because the bought boots will have to be replaced in the field when they break or wear out fast, such as the case of tennis shoe like garbage.

      Enforce wearing of the issue ones. End of story.

      • Brian says:

        LC I was just clicking through and I know I shouldn’t even respond, but I just cannot help myself this time….you are an idiot and probably a first sergeant which makes you an idiot that thinks he knows everything because he aced his ged test first time around

  4. SeanL says:

    Outstanding. This will ensure our Army remains a relevant and effective fighting force well into the foreseeable future.

    Now that the boot issue is settled, one has to wonder what the SMA will set his sights on next? Updating Army marksmanship tables to take advantage of modern optics, ballistic theory, and technology? Perhaps decreasing the administrative workload on Soldiers, in the form of online ‘training’ and SHARP briefings? Maybe even a back-to-basics approach, with an emphasis on skill level 1 tasks, like shoot-move-and communicate?

    Then again, you have to stick with what you know.

    • Teddy says:

      Sean that was Brilliant, just brilliant. A man with less combat deployment than 90% of the lower enlisted in the army, does not get to dictate what boots i wear in combat.

      • Ben says:

        Apparently he does.

      • Explosive Hazard says:

        He absolutely gets to dictate what kind of boots we wear like it or not. The Marines had Gen Amos, we have SMA Chandler. Two sides of the same coin IMO. We don’t have to like the rules and regulations we enforce but we have to enforce them and lead by example.

    • badjujuu says:


    • CJ says:

      well said.

    • xdarrows says:

      Hear, hear!

  5. Teddy says:

    blind adherence to regulation and rule without the temper of maturity is not leadership, its autocracy.

  6. Caleb says:

    The Nike’s are one of the most common boots you see Soldiers wearing and the Rocky’s aren’t too far behind. Gonna be a lot of guys pumping $ back into Clothing Sales.

    • Lucky says:

      They sell those Rocky C4T boots at Clothing and Sales, as well as HALF THAT LIST… So how are they unauthorized? Big Army for the win again… (I was just there, so yes, what I said is correct)

      • SSD says:

        It’s the synthetic microsuede.

        • Lucky says:

          Question is, why would they sell them, if they themselves made them unauthorized?

          • SSD says:

            AAFES, who also runs the AMCSS doesn’t set policy. The Army does. Sometimes, one hand doesn’t tell the other what it is up to.

  7. HD says:

    What is most troubling about this (as well as with many other uniform and equipment (and personnel) decisions in the last 10+ years) is that the GO community within in the Army has abdicated its policy making authority to the politicalized national-level CSM community and only serve to rubber stamp CSM pet projects/ biased uniform decisions. When you see ALARACTs with GO signatures, but list CSM, DA G1 or DA G4 CSM as the POC, its a clear indicator the signature is nothing more than a rubber stamp and the CSMs in question were the driver toward creation of the policy.

    The various planning boards that previously functioned to conducting planning, analysis, and inform GO decision making are silent. When was the last time you heard of a major decision going through the Army Uniform Board. or one of the other various entities.

    Officers, GENERAL OFFICERS!!!, set policy. NOT NCOs – NCOs enforce the policies to ensure good order and discispline in the Army.

    Unfortunately, GOs seem to be reluctant to reign in the CSM community for fear of perceptions of discord. And to avoid a revolt of the CSMs.

    • Common Sense says:

      So you mean to tell me that in this mess of “authorized/unauthorized” equipment- a GENERAL will know more than a CSM?


      Generals can authorize studies to look at the effectiveness of certain equipment- but how in the hell are they supposed to be the experts on which individual equipment is effective? That isn’t their role, that isn’t their experience. NCOs spend most of their career dealing with individual gear, Officers don’t.

      • Jon OPT says:

        Thank you, the best thing out of this, if anything, is power in the hands of NCOs. Officers can delegate authority, responsibility still falls on them. Day one military shit that is becoming a lost art, when it is a long standing institutional standard.

        MSG, USA

    • majrod says:

      The General Officers are still responsible AND don’t be so sure they aren’t even more politicized.

      I could point out half a dozen decisions where Generals initiated or supported a PC policy starting with the Afghan ROE, to Benghazi, to what’s happening (or more appropriately, not happening) to Bergdahl.

  8. AbnMedOps says:

    I’m glad for the clarification, cowhide is in, but coonskin and alligator hide is out. Even if it is just the right size.

  9. Hussar says:

    I was very impressed with the article until I came across this comment by the SMA: “The Army develops and issues Soldiers the best equipment available for accomplishment of their mission.”

    Does anyone really believe that? What about costs? Is it normal for any of the services to award the contract to the highest bidder because they offer the best product? What about non-Berry compliant items. If an item made in Germany or Italy is the best, does the US Army issue it, or do they issue a lesser quality item because it is made in the congressional district of someone on the armed services committee?

    I’m sorry but this “rah, rah” type statement, IMO, only makes our senior leaders look silly and destroys their crediblity with anyone who reads a newspaper. I would have preferred to hear the SMA say this instead: “We try to issue the best equipment that congress, the pentagon, and our contracting officials allow us to issue from the contractors that competed and based on their bid was awarded the contract. While some may suggest that there are better alternatives available from COTS sources, that is why in some areas we allow our personnel some degree of choice.”

    • jjj0309 says:


    • badjujuu says:

      What they are saying: “The Army develops and issues Soldiers the best equipment available for accomplishment of their mission”
      The reality: “The Army develops and issues Soldiers equipment that’s just good enough for accomplishment of their mission”

  10. Mick says:

    Where’s the pics of the ones that fit the reg?

    Also, saw Rocky C4Ts (the second one on the photo) on sale at Fort McCoy’s PX yesterday…

    • Jeffrey says:

      The rule of thumb I was taught as a young joe in the early 90s was that if it was sold in the Clothing & Sales stores, it was authorized and that what is sold at the PX is sometimes not. We ran into this problem in 91-92 in Germany with the Magnum boots that we all started buying.

      • Crayon eating booger eater says:

        MCSS = Military CLOTHING SALES Stores

        (This is going on my list, along with “Tactical,” “Warrior,” and “Operator.”)

    • Lucky says:

      Those are also at Belvoir’s PX, along wit the Bellville Flyweights and a few others on that list and in that picture

  11. Chris says:

    Just because they sell it in the PX or Clothing and sales doesn’t mean they are authorized in any way, shape or form by AR 670-1.

    • SSD says:

      But items sold in Clothing Sales should be.

      • Jeffrey says:

        It has been my understanding in the past that all items at Clothing & Sales were to be AR 670-1 compliant. I guess this is something that changed or was never true? I agree that with you that it should be. I don’t like this any more than many others, and probably for some of the same reasons, but I guess it’s time to get different boots.

  12. Teddy says:

    me, the soldier on the ground will continue to wear boots that i think will make me effective for the mission, not what a desk jockey thinks i should be wearing because its in a fucking book or written in an official sentence.

    • Glen says:

      Perhaps you should think about a different line of work, Stud. From the above, the military and you may not be compatible.

      • badjujuu says:

        I will second Glen, your statement can be applied to all thats Military

        “me, the soldier on the ground will continue to wear boots/uniform/helmet/body armor/OCIE/PPE/ that i think will make me effective for the mission”

        Don’t get me wrong, I dont like this anymore than you but here I am going on my 12th year in. I didnt care for UCP, the beret, the ROE in OEF but nobody forced me to be in or stay in.

        We can madafak all we want, but in the end it is what it is.

    • LC says:

      Wear your issue boots from basic and quit being a bitch. Remember what you signed up to do, cupcake.

      • Subandsand says:

        Should I do that with my standard issue feet I got in basic? Oh wait, thats right my feet are very different then your’s. So the issue boots might not work well with my feet. Let the guys wear what works for them as long as they fall in the guidelines put out.

        • Joshua says:

          Why not use one of the vast number of boots that are allowed? It’s not like you are stuck with just one pair/brand of boots.

          • Subandsand says:

            That is the point that I am trying to make, there is no one boot to rule them all. Set guidelines, let your guys wear the boots that fall in those guidelines that works for them and punish those that can’t follow those guidelines.

        • LC says:

          Then get medically discharged if your feet are that big of a fucking problem.

          With the wide variety of compliant boots available, you are just trying to justify wearing your nikes or some other tennis shoe type bullshit.

          No, they shouldn’t wear “what works for them”. If its a problem, get the fuck out. Im sick of my taxes going to whiny, self entitled little man children.

          • Subandsand says:

            Way to miss the god damn point. Did you not read the end of my post that said “as long as they fall in the guidelines put out”? I was trying to say that one boot for everyone is not the best option but agreeing that there has to be guidelines for the boots. Its the thinking like your’s that has the Navy only authorizing (for the majority) two boots and the only different between them is one is smooth leather and one is rough leather. As far as fit, they are the exact same and they suck hard.

            • LC says:

              I didn’t miss the point.

              My point is that if issue boots cause you feet problems, your high speed tennis shoe nikes are going to cause worse problems. Its a fact.

              there are already different types of boots available without digging into your nike types and they work outstandingly well. Its just people want to be cool guy types.

  13. Philip says:

    Thank God the AF doesn’t restrict material; the regs just state it must be “sage green”.

    Instead we have SNCOs lobbying to keep a uniform that allows them their Civil War-sized arm chevrons…

  14. Common Sense says:

    It’s funny that they are so concerned about cow hide vs pig skin, when the result is still rough-out leather, which rots in swamp and jungle. Great idea.

  15. Chuck says:

    It is easier to use standard issue boots when you’re dodging deployments… I guess.

  16. JoshZ says:

    I find it insane the the military can spend a ridiculous amount of money on new camo or a new type of ammunition(one wasn’t needed the other already had a solution). But won’t spring for an extra pair of boots for the guys on the ground.

  17. that one guy says:

    As an NCO, I understand my job is to uphold order and discipline. Sometimes I don’t agree with the reg I have to uphold, but I do it. Soldiers have been wearing Nikes for years and its never been an issue. The only reason his article gives for why some boots are authorized and some aren’t is for durability requirements. Standard issue boots are only meant to last 6-12 months, which is the life span of a pair of Nikes. I’ve always hated the C4T’s (it states on the box they’re not meant for combat)! They’re $150 down the drain. At the end of the day, this is no different than the rampage on soldiers with tattoos and sideburns. At the end of the day, I think these policies are driven by nothing more than personal bias. I’ve been in long enough to see three different SMA’s, and they all have the things they fight to change.
    Synthetic leather is proven to dry faster than cowhide, which helps prevent athletes foot, and they don’t burn any faster. There are other boots out there that still fall within these guidelines though, and can be just as light on your feet. Definitely what I’ll miss about my Nikes. Most issued boots are bricks on soles. Joe’s just gonna have to spend his money elsewhere. The under armour boots are a huge problem here on Bliss though (we’ve got an under armour store on post). They’re outside of regs in more ways than one, not to mention they look like clown shoes painted tan.

  18. LC says:

    Im glad

    Soldiers have no business with tennis shoe like boots. period. Any semi competent person that has ruck marched with an actual combat load knows that they are utterly abysmal for that purpose and issued boots are only marginally better.

    The issued ones are fine. If they are a problem, then you probably should get discharged and stop wasting mine and the american people’s time.

    No oakleys, no nikes, no nothing. Done. Put your hard earned money in a fucking nest egg or something.

    • Ben says:

      All you’re doing is spreading your opinion, fact being, a lot of guys at every echelon of the Army wear boots like Nike’s, some of those guys are out on the line laughing at idiots who’s soles of their low quality issued have delaminated 10k from the FOB.

      I’m sure you’re some grumpy old vet who wants starched BDU’s brought back and tells thrilling story’s of web gear and suspension helmets, times have changed though, and people like you and SMA (a tanker who knows NOTHING about being on the line) are the problem. Progress isn’t going back, it’s looking forward.

      • Subandsand says:

        Here, here!

      • LC says:

        “some of those guys are out on the line laughing at idiots who’s soles of their low quality issued have delaminated 10k from the FOB.”

        You are completely FOS.

        The issued boots (Danner Combat Hikers and Belleville 390s) I was issued in Afghanistan (asolo echos) allowed me to out hike and out march soldiers wearing their new fangled tennis shoe like boots, which are way too soft and flimsy for soldiers wearing in excess of 50 lbs of equipment (that is the threshold). It was not only me. Which is why in my unit, such “boots” were banned outside the wire.

        What did our type do before these high speed commando boots? oh right. OD-green jungle boots with wool socks. 4-6 mph. 10-15-20 miles give or take. Sometimes more.

        It is a scientific fact that softer shoes, like tennis shoe similar ones, cause excess flex, which leads to the overuse of muscles and tendons in the feet to compensate. Ever hear of Plantar Fasciitis? That is why serious civilian hikers (and special operations types) dont even think about using such boots. They wear heavier asolo echo types instead.

        Issue boots (altama, mcrae, and belleville) are already too light as it is for serious ruck marching boots. These abomination tennis shoe boots are EVEN WORSE.

        Im quite fine without starched BDUs. It lights you up like a christmas tree through thermal optics and makes the uniform uncomfortable in a field environment. The ACU is a abortion and should have never been adopted.

        So dont accuse me of being old and backwards. I probably have far more “light” time than you, which explains my peculiarity towards footwear.

        What im fucking tired of is high speed, low drag-wannabe SF types thinking they need tennis shoe nikes to be more effective when fieldcraft is the most important thing as are a good pair of broken in boots. The joke is on them when they complain about issue boots being inadequate because theirs are far inferior.

        • Common Sense says:

          While I don’t agree with everything you’ve posted, I agree 100% with the “light” boots as a problem issue. Combat boots should be solid, not bricks, but solid. Most European armies consider US issued boots to be light.

          A pair of Lowa/Meindl/Hanwag combat boots are not comfortable for speed marches ON PAVEMENT, but for actual field missions and combat are fantastic and worth the price. LIght boots are made for distance runs on the road- which is not something you should be doing in boots unless you absolutely have to.

        • Subandsand says:

          I totally get what you’re saying now. From your previous posts it sounded like you were advocating for exactly one boot, and one boot only to be worn by the entire Army, which is the situation that we are stuck in in the Navy. If you ask most people they would tell you that the Navy issue Bates are uncomfortable, rub parts of the foot raw, cause blisters, etc. When I was getting my Army uniforms issued for my IA in Afghanistan I tried on multiple boots until i found a pair of Altamas that I liked. They were not “high speed, low drag” boots just standard issue boots, but there was a variety of manufacturers that I was able to go through. And I wish that was true for my beloved NWUs of which my only complaints are thickness of the material and the damn boots. I fully support that boots must fall into guidelines but let me have a few to choose from. And there is a market for the light boots, I tend to wear boots in my off hours and for working on my Jeep, moving the lawn, or running errands they work great.

          • CPT P says:

            As an infantryman with 11 years of experience I see pros and cons to the “tennis shoe” boots. I’ve worn them in combat on days I knew I wasn’t going to be carrying a heavy load because I had a vehicle for that. On heavy days I wore my Merrels (which I can’t believe no one brought up). This issue stuff is garbage, I had a sole separate from one during a PLF and another get jungle rot. Merrels are lighter, have a solid bottom and provide ankle support. That is why its the SOCOM standard.

  19. pbr549 says:

    Not for nothing, but where is the official US Army source for this? Ive searched the SMA’s page on Army.mil, his FB page, and Ive Googled “SMA Chandler Leader Book Notes Boots”, and see links to Reddit, and RallyPoint. I havent seen anything from any of the CSMs between he and I, not emails, not NCOPDs, nothing. If one of you guys could reply to this with a link to something official, I’d appreciate it.

  20. Carlos says:

    “The Army develops and issues Soldiers the best equipment available for accomplishment of their mission…”

    Seriously? Since when?