The German Armed Forces have apparently been having a hard time supplying troops with new footwear, the Defense Ministry revealed, blaming a deadline missed by two years on ineffective industry.
Responding to the parliamentary inquiry, the ministry said that the quest to provide soldiers with two pairs of ‘heavy combat boots’ and one pair of ‘light combat boots’ has been derailed due to the “limited production capacity in industry.”
The project was launched in 2016 and was supposed to be fully implemented by 2020. However, this is not going to be the case, and the deadline has been shifted to mid-2022, the ministry said in its response to Free Democratic Party (FDP) MP Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, as reported by Der Tagesspiegel.
Around 160,000 out of the 183,000-strong Bundeswehr have received one pair of heavy combat boots so far, but are still lacking the other two pairs. The luckiest 31,000 have been given a pair of light combat boots.
When asked how many servicemen have the complete set, a ministry spokeswoman told Tagesspiegel that “only a few” are currently in possession of all three pairs. She has not provided the exact number, however.
The intent of the project, championed by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, was to replace the so-called “all-season shoe” with “heavy” and “light” boots, but something apparently went awry in the process. The extensive delay seems even more baffling considering that Germany is renowned for its shoe industry, boasting a plethora of well-known brands churning out high-quality, comfortable footwear.
The government’s attempt to pin the blame on the overstretched industry did not sit well with Strack-Zimmermann, who pulled no punches denouncing the embarrassing setback.
It seems grotesque that it takes eight years to equip the entire troops with new footwear. After all, this is not a question of fashion, but one of safety. Imagine firefighters extinguishing fires in slippers.
The footwear debacle is by far not the only mishap plaguing the army, which has been making international headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years, primarily for its faulty hardware, including a combat aircraft grounded over “loose screws” and combat vehicles that were taken out of service by “dust and rocky roads.”
In January, military Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said that the Germany Army would most likely lack necessary equipment and arms until at least 2031.
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