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Beating up boots.

IT'S easy to determine whether the insides of boots have gotten wet after the boots have been standing in a pool of water and tossed around thousands of times.

Researchers simply remove pieces of absorbent paper that were tucked inside the boots.

"We beat the heck out of boots here," said Michael Holthe, lead project engineer for footwear programs at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass. "They have to be durable, but also help soldiers perform their jobs."

The whole shoe flexer, modified for water penetration testing, is among a collection of machines in the Footwear Performance Laboratory that mercilessly tests boots. The only Defense Department facility of its kind, it's been operating for more than a year and is a central location for technical testing and research and development for all military footwear, Holthe said.

Military boots are categorized as extreme cold-, cold-wet-, temperate-, hot-wet- and hot-dry-weather, and blast protective. The only footwear SSC doesn't test is chemical-biological protective.

Besides the Infantry Combat Boot, other current and pending projects for the boot-testers include the Improved Hot-Weather Combat Boot for the Army, the Army's new modular footwear program and improved blast- protective footwear.

Equipment in the lab is used to check footwear for heat insulation, shock attenuation, pressure distribution, water penetration, flex resistance and dynamic stiffness.

Research has shown that footwear that can properly absorb shock results in fewer lower-leg injuries and less down time for soldiers.--U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center

For more information about SSC, visit the organization's Web site at www.natick.army.mil.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
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Title Annotation:Tech notes: what's new in equipment and technology; testing army boots
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:264
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