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Army seeks new options for tropical uniforms, jungle boots

May. 5, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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As the military’s focus turns to Asia and the Pacific, Army procurement officials are a seeking a uniform for tropical environments.

The Army is looking for lightweight materials, both woven and knit, that are quick drying, breathable, machine washable, and treatable with permetherin, according to the Army’s pre-solicitation document issued March 10.

Officials with Program Executive Office Soldier have sought to provide soldiers with the best equipment for all environments, but Afghanistan and the Middle East have been the priority during the wars of the last decade, said PEO Soldier Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Maddi.

“We’re still fighting in Afghanistan, but we’ve come so far, it’s given us an opportunity to look at these other environments,” Maddi said.

No formal requirement has been developed, but the Army plans to survey available materials and fabrics in order to develop informed requirements. That effort could include work with the Army’s Jungle Operations Training Course in Hawaii as the service explores a range of soldier equipment, with uniforms and boots being the most visible, Maddi said.

The Army has not budgeted for a tropical uniform or its development since the early 1980s. The intent is to “capitalize on the technical advances in industry that can be incorporated into a tropical uniform that may be used for deployment and training for the U.S. Army,” according to the notice.

Marine Corps procurement officials also seeking quick-drying cammies for tropical environments went back to the drawing board in January after several prototypes tested this summer didn’t stand up to the rigors of jungle warfare.

While the Marines examined a range of clothing, including socks, the Army’s solicitation is aimed at a shirt and trousers. Companies were asked to assume soldiers will be wearing hot-weather boots, a belt, and a moisture-wicking T-shirt under the uniform.

Jungle boots

On April 22, the Army issued pre-solicitation documents for non-waterproof, hot-weather, jungle combat boots. The boots must be durable enough to last a year in the jungle.

For the purposes of collecting soldier feedback, the program office has already been looking at the S2V Jungle Boot made by Rocky Brands, of Nelsonville, Ohio, and a Bates Recondo jungle boot from Wolverine World Wide, of Rockford, Mich. Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division were slated to field test this footwear.

— Joe Gould

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