Footwear soled with space-age material and designed to fit over standard-issue army boots could be one of the latest weapons being employed by US commandos in Afghanistan.

The 'silent boots' give the soldiers an edge by allowing them to creep across floors, roofs and solid ground in silence.

According to documents uncovered by Canada's National Post newspaper, the footwear was designed in 1999 by a US State Department design project headed by non-profit corporation Battelle. Analysis produced by the department's Technical Support Working Group states that the boot "does an excellent job of reducing squeaking and other noises produced by the standard-issue boot walking or running on wet or dry surfaces."

The overboot uppers are made of black elastic fabric with shock cords to secure them. The soles, however, consist of a combination of oil-impregnated leather, Spandex and slow-recovery foam that both absorbs the concussion of footfalls and the squeaks generated by lateral movement of heels and toes.

The National Post speculates that the silent boots could soon find their way to the feet of Canadian special forces, but also quotes one former special forces soldier who dismisses the need for "these so-called innovations."