If we trust American manufacturers to produce nuclear submarines, missiles and fighter jets then why can’t we trust them to make a simple, safe sneaker for our troops?
The U.S. shoe industry says it can deliver – no problem! So what’s the issue?
If you recall, when it comes to equipping our troops, the 1941 legislation known as the Berry Amendment requires Department of Defense (DOD) to purchase domestic textile products. However, there is a nice little loophole that allows them to purchase athletic shoes manufactured overseas based on a ridiculous “it’s just not made here in America” excuse.
Finally, after many long years of debating the issue, the DOD has agreed to give it some “consideration.”
This is all due in part to pressure from domestic shoe industry plants like Michigan, Massachusetts and Maine that still have some of the U.S. remaining shoe plants and lawmakers in these states.
Information regarding these U.S. shoe manufacturers ability to produce reliable sneakers was requested earlier this year by defense officials. The department may order the Air Force, Army and Navy to outfit their troops with Made in America sneakers if they can convince officials that they have the means to make the shoes here in the U.S.
Companies like Wolverine Worldwide Inc and New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc have stated they could proved athletic footwear for the military that is 100% produced right here in America. Others that have shown interest are Wellco Enterprises Inc. and the Danner unit of LaCrosse Footwear Inc – both producers of military boots and Capps Shoe Co., a manufacturer of military shoes.
In an effort to show the endless possibilities of local production, Maine Democrat Representative Mike Michaud presented President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel with black mesh New Balance athletic shoes.
According to a quote in an article in the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Michaud said. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said: “It’s mind-boggling why the president doesn’t do an executive order” requiring the Defense Department to buy U.S. made sneakers. “The president keeps saying he wants to promote American manufacturing. Well, here’s a chance.”
It is a fact that returning 100% production of military footwear back to the U.S. will add jobs both at suppliers and their plants.
Although this would not bring the U.S. shoe industry back to its former glory, orders from the military to produce sneakers made in America would definitely be a significant boost because it is estimated that the military spends more than $180 million on cash allowances for new recruits to purchase sneakers.
As of now the department has stated that no decision has been made yet and has no idea when one will be made.
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