For a completely different idea on winning in Afghanistan, take a look at the brain child of two former Army Rangers and a friend. Working from the idea that we can’t kill our way to victory in a counter-insurgency conflict and from the inspired slogan, “Business, not bullets”, Combat Flip Flops ($65) promotes a strong Afghan economy to sustain and build on the successes of the past 10 years. In a country where $25 is strong incentive for emplacing an improvised explosive device targeted at U.S. and Afghanistan security forces, economic development is the alternative path for people who act for financial, rather than ideological, reasons.
After seeing an Afghan factory worker making slaps out of old combat boot soles, Matthew Griffin and his buddies saw the opportunity to re-purpose Afghanistan manufacturing capability to address declining military contracts as the U.S. withdraws. Facing insurmountable challenges in-country, the trio shifted to a micro-factory in Issaquah, WA with a first-production run of 3,000 pairs. The flops are crafted to last, made using cowhide leather decks and combat-boot-grade rubber treads; many pairs carry design influences from Afghan culture. The company’s long-term goal is to ultimately establish production in Afghanistan, with the idea of expanding into other war-torn Middle Eastern countries. Given their snarky tagline (“Bad for running, worse for fighting”), it’s Gear Patrol’s sincere hope their product is used solely for peaceful endeavors.