Runnin' USA: Maybe, maybe not for military recruits

Posted by TGarland on 10/01/2013

There might not be anything more American than the U.S. military. That said, the same cannot be said for military recruits' athletic shoes.

Under current Army and Air Force policies, recruits are given $75 dollars to purchase a pair of athletic sneakers from military exchanges to prepare for boot camp. The Navy, however, equips recruits with only one brand: New Balance.

Why do the military branches differ over this? The Navy’s athletic shoe policy attempts to comply with the 1941 Berry Amendment that requires the Pentagon to buy food, clothing and other items from producers inside the U.S.

Though New Balance athletic shoes do not fulfill all of the requirements of the Berry Amendment, the company says with a military-sized demand, they could.

And this year they may have that chance. Austin Wright of Politico reports:

A provision in the House version of this year’s defense authorization bill would force all the services to adopt a policy similar to the Navy’s — requiring military recruits to be equipped with U.S.-made shoes as they enter boot camp. The bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate before the end of the year.

Backed by Democratic Reps. Niki Tsongas (MA) and Michael Michaud (ME), the provision would take effect once the Pentagon ensures there are two suppliers capable of making athletic shoes with Berry Amendment requirements. New Balance would almost certainly be one of them.

Image by Flickr user Claus, following Creative Commons guidelines. 

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