WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, Representatives Mike Michaud (D-ME) and Duncan Hunter (R-CA) sent a bipartisan letter signed by 50 of their colleagues to the Department of Defense (DOD) urging full compliance with the letter and the spirit of the Berry Amendment, which would ensure military uniforms are 100 percent made in the United States. Michaud has been pushing this issue because of its direct impact on Maine manufacturing and footwear jobs, including approximately 900 New Balance workers in Norway, Norridgewock and Skowhegan.
"Our forces should be outfitted from head to toe in American-made uniforms, period," said Michaud. "At a time when we need to create jobs and boost manufacturing, the last thing we should be doing is outsourcing military uniforms."
"The U.S. military not only defends American interests but it represents American strength across the globe, including our domestic manufacturing capability," said Hunter. "Utilizing American-made uniforms and equipment to the fullest extent possible should be a nonnegotiable part of efforts to guarantee our forces are provided the highest quality and most effective resources available."
The full text of the letter Michaud and Hunter sent today can be found below, and a PDF version of the letter with all signers can be found here.
October 23, 2012
The Honorable Frank Kendall
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L)
Department of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
Dear Secretary Kendall:
We write to urge you to ensure the Department of Defense's complete compliance with the letter and the spirit of the Berry Amendment. We believe full compliance of the Berry Amendment is in our national security interests and in our national economic interests. Moreover, we strongly believe that our troops should train and serve in uniforms made 100% here in the U.S.A.
As you know, the Berry Amendment requires DOD to procure clothing and other items that are made in the U.S. Congress first established this domestic preference for DOD procurement in 1941, and for decades the military branches complied by issuing American-made uniforms, including footwear, for our troops.
Recently, however, DOD has started circumventing this policy by issuing cash allowances for soldiers to purchase their own training shoes. In addition, a recent news report highlighted an Air Force Master Sergeant who was twice issued boots made in China. When he asked how he could exchange them for American-made boots, he was told "good luck." In both cases, the military purchased foreign products despite the availability of the exact same items that are manufactured and readily available in the U.S.
At a time when our country is at war and when our economy is recovering from a deep recession, it is more important than ever that DOD comply with the Berry Amendment. We should not rely on other countries, particularly those who may have competing global interests, to supply our forces with basic items. This is especially true when there are millions of Americans looking for work. More importantly, our soldiers deserve to fight in uniforms, including footwear, that are made in the U.S.A.
We are deeply troubled that DOD is circumventing the Berry Amendment, and we urge you to take all steps necessary to ensure that your agency complies with the spirit and the intent of the law.
MICHAEL H. MICHAUD & DUNCAN HUNTER
Members of Congress