The U.S. Army has officially, unequivocally banned the use of toe shoes. Read the relevant part of the ALARACT and weep: “Only those shoes that accomodate all five toes in one compartment are authorized for wear. Those shoes that feature five separate, individual compartments for the toes, detract from a professional military image and are prohibited for wear with the IPFU [Improved Physical Fitness Uniform] or when conducting physical training in military formation.”

We had posted before about the Army banning Vibram FiveFingers but there was some debate (nearly 100 comments on that post) about the veracity of our report. Hard to argue with this release as it makes the Army’s thoughts on minimalist running shoes pretty clear — there can be only one compartment to rule them all*.

This is unfortunate for so many reasons. I can’t help but remember this recent photo from a Special Forces exercise where we see a soldier jumping from a plane in KSO FiveFingers:

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

What do you make of the Army’s ban of toe shoes Right? Wrong? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

Here’s the official (all caps, sorry) All Army Activities (ALARACT) release:

ALARACT 239/2011
DTG: R 231424Z JUN 11
UNCLASSIFIED//
THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN SENT BY THE PENTAGON TELECOMMUNICATIONS CENTER ON BEHALF OF DA WASHINGTON DC//DAPE-HRI//
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR EXCEPTION TO POLICY TO PUBLISH ALARACT MODIFYING WEAR OF IMPROVED PHYSICAL FITNESS UNIFORM (IPFU)

  1. THE PURPOSE OF THIS MESSAGE IS TO MODIFY THE EXISTING WEAR POLICY FOR THE (IPFU).
  2. THERE ARE A VARIETY OF MINIMALIST RUNNING SHOES AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AND WEAR. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, ONLY THOSE 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 FROM A PROFESSIONAL MILITARY IMAGE AND ARE PROHIBITED FOR WEAR WITH THE IPFU OR WHEN CONDUCTING PHYSICAL TRAINING IN MILITARY FORMATION.
  3. HQDA POC FOR UNIFORM WEAR POLICY IS SGM JAMES A. MCGRUDER, [email protected] , DSN 664-0620, (703) 604-0620.
  4. EXPIRATION: THIS MESSAGE EXPIRES UPON NEXT PUBLICATION OF AR 670-1.
  5. EXPIRATION DATE CANNOT BE DETERMINED.

Hat tip to Running Jackalope (read his thoughts on the ALARACT here) and Bobby for the notes on this issue!

* That’s my Lord of the Rings meets the Highlander summary of the issue, anyway.