The Army is concerned that the look of Five Finger shoes does not go along with their “military image.” An issue that has stirred controversy among military commentators and barefoot-shoe fans.
An unclassified request to modify the “wear policy” for the Improved Physical Fitness Uniform says, “Effective immediately, only [minimalists] shoes that accommodate all five toes in one compartment are authorized for wear. Those shoes that feature five separate, individual compartments for the toes, detract for a professional military image and are prohibited for wear with the IPFU or when conducting physical training in military formation.”
But bare-foot running advocates and supporters disagree with the change of policy.
Justin Owings, author of the blog Birthday Shoes–dedicated to anything relating Vibram’s Five Fingers–wrote, citing the above abstract: “read the relevant part of the [document] and weep.” He posted a photo that suggests the military is, just as everyone else, noticing the benefits of these shoes and using them.
Here’s a U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico. Tech Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez/defense.gov
Justin says the guy’s wearing a pair of KSO’s. What do you think?
Thomas E. Rick, a former special military correspondent for the Washington Post, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and blogger for Foreign Policy Magazine wrote back in June, 2011 about his view on the policy.
“What particularly gets me is the line, ‘detract from a professional military image.’ I don’t understand how the image of someone that takes their running serious is detracting from a professional military image. Professionals sometimes wear items/clothing that may look ‘weird’ but serves a professional purpose. Anyway, I have had some Five Fingers for over a year, and I love them. They reduce shin splints, work your calves better, toughen your feet, and reduced my five mile run average by five minutes in three months, “Rick wrote.” “Is this a matter of national security? In isolation, probably not. But, I would say that an Army that is more concerned with looks versus results IS a matter a national security.”
A few months after the Army’s policy took place the NAVY specifically authorized the use of minimalists shoes, “current types such as the Vibram Five Fingers,” NAVY public documents state.
So why so much controversy? It seems that people either LOVE or HATE toe shoes. Why do you think that is? Are some brains just too used to the look of a traditional shoe? But, does it make sense?
How about you? What do you think of these funky shoes? Let us know