Defense Dept. Agrees to Provide Recruits with American-Made Athletic Shoes…as soon as some are Made

Friday, May 02, 2014
(photo: Johannes Eisele, Getty, AFP)

The U.S. military has been required since the early 1940s to provide new recruits with American-made clothing and food. But for many years now, the armed forces have had to give out foreign-made athletic shoes because these kinds were the only ones available in the U.S.


Nonetheless, the Department of Defense has promised that going forward, it will make sure military recruits use their one-time stipend for athletic shoes during basic training on brands made in the USA.


That is just as soon as some become available.


The new policy (pdf) refers to the Berry Amendment, which was adopted in 1941. It was this provision that mandated soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines be supplied with U.S.-made goods.


In the spirit of the Berry Amendment, recruits will each receive $80 to buy a pair of athletic shoes not made overseas.


The question now is will anyone step up and provide such shoes for sale in the U.S.


New Balance, Wolverine Worldwide, Wellco, Danner, and Capps Shoe reportedly are interested in producing shoes made with American labor.


The policy, however, does contain a potential loophole that could allow recruits to use their taxpayer-funded stipend to buy foreign-made shoes. The U.S.-manufactured shoes must be available “at a cost and durability similar to that of shoes currently offered,” according to the Pentagon memo. Plus, the policy will not prevent recruits from spending their own money on, say, Nike footwear, which are made in China, Indonesia and Vietnam.


Another loophole exists in provisions in the law allow the military to buy from foreign manufacturers if the order is under $150,000 (per Berry) or under $3,000 (per the Buy American Act [pdf]).


The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General is currently conducting an audit to determine if the military has been in violation of the Berry Amendment or the Buy American Act, the 1933 law that requires the U.S. government to buy only American-made products. The results of the audit are to be released in September.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

DoD Commits to American-Made Shoes (by Anaika Miller, Project on Government Oversight)

Policy with Respect to Athletic Shoes Offered to Recruits at Basic Training (Department of Defense) (pdf)

U.S. Airman Got the Boot for Pointing Out that his Boots Were Made in China (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


David Hamilton 4 years ago
Rolled into Basic at Fort Sill in 1983 with the best pair of Adidas I could buy. It was about my feet not the country of origin. Give us a superior product for $80 and we will beat a path to your door.

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