Rule Mandates Recruits Buy USA-Made Athletic Shoes

RunningThe Pentagon has issued a new rule that will require recruits arriving at basic training to use an $80 cash allowance for running shoes to buy only a product made entirely in the United States.

The new rule puts the Defense Department squarely in line with the so-called “Berry Amendment” mandating the department buy U.S.-manufactured goods and products whenever possible. The law has been around since 1941 and was passed to provide protections to U.S. manufacturing, but was beefed up in 2006 to ensure that DoD funds were not used to buy a broad range of products unless they are entirely made in the U.S.

By then, the number of U.S. companies making athletic shoes in the U.S. was down to one, New Balance, which is headquartered in Maine. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, provided the Pentagon with prototypes and design plans for “Berry Amendment-compliant” athletic shoes in December, according to an April 25 letter from Acting Secretary of Defense Christine Fox to Michaud.

Fox told Michaud in the letter that, currently, “no footwear manufacturer sells Berry Amendment-complaint athletic shoes” but that several have the capability to do so.

Michaud called the new Pentagon rule “a tremendous victory for American manufacturers.”

“It only makes sense that we equip our country’s bravest men and women with products made by some of our country’s hardest working manufacturers,” he said.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he was pleased the Pentagon’s decision, which he said complies with Congressional intent and is what the American people want.

“If we can provide U.S.-made athletic shoes to our troops – and I believe we can – we should do so,” Levin said.

Navy Times reported that Marine Corps will not be affected by the new rule because it does not provide a one-time allowance specifically for footwear, but a general clothing allowance.

Fox said in her letter to Michaud that athletic shoes meeting the law will become available only after being tested to ensure they meet the recruits’ needs. Until Berry Amendment-compliant shoes are available, recruits will be able to buy any brand that meets their needs, she wrote.

“If, for a given shoe type category, no Berry Amendment-compliant option exists in the commercial marketplace, other shoe models appropriate to recruits’ requirement will continue to be made available,” Fox told Michaud.

Of course there are questions of just how “Made-in-America” New Balance shoes really are. Last year, only a quarter of the New Balance shoes sold in the U.S. were produced in America according to a company website. This is considerably higher than competitors, but it still leaves the question of whether New Balance does meet the requirement.

32 Comments on "Rule Mandates Recruits Buy USA-Made Athletic Shoes"

  1. I’d rather run barefoot.

  2. I don't run anymore, but New Balance makes a good walking shoe that is comfortable and supports the feet.

  3. Alan of Austin | April 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm |

    Sounds like DOD / Congress should make the shoes standard issue if they want to make sure american companies make the shoes.

  4. This is stupid- protectionism more times than not,does not allow the consumer to get the most for their money (in this case it’s really taxpayer money) give, get or allow these kids to get the best shoes the $80 will buy. Where it’s made should be secondary.

  5. madeintheusa | April 29, 2014 at 11:07 pm |

    In the same way, commissaries ought to carry avocados only from clean sources. ("Blood Avocados: The Dark Side of Your Guacamole":

  6. Isn't about time we took an active role to Give America A Chance.. I don't know what some of the commenters are thinking if they think American made shoes are second rate. My New Balance shoes (4 years old) are still going strong… and yes, they are part of the 25% that are made in America. My DW's NewBalance (American made and 5 years old) are taking her on a 5K this weekend.

  7. There isn’t a single American shoe company worth running in or buying. Another ridiculous loss for the military.

  8. I am so glad I am retired ! I can NOT believe the military could get stupider but time and time again recently they have com through and shown me how wrong my assumptions are.

  9. Can I be retroactively paid for all those Corcoran jump boots worn out during PT in the late 50's – mid 60's?

  10. Jim Laubach | April 30, 2014 at 8:31 am |

    Protectionism only wastes American tax dollars to support industries that are no longer competitive. The truth is, whatever the playing field we have to learn how to compete on it. Industries that can't disappear in favor of American ingenuity — startups that not only compete in the world marketplace, but dominate it. That's the way of the world, folks, whether we like it or not.

  11. This is a stupid decision. Every runner's feet are different and every runner should be allowed to wear the shoes that are most comfortable for them and do the best job of protecting and supporting THEIR feet, regardless of manufacturer. Runners may go through several brands before finding the one that best meets their needs. If that manufacturer changes their design and/or materials used in their shoes, then the runner may need to find another brand.

  12. I applaud the decision. If U.S. – made running shoes are available, then why should we NOT select them over a foreign-made shoe. This is not protectionism. It's common sense.

  13. I didn't read the post but I can tell you this, When I went to boot camp we were taken to the PX on base and told what we needed to get, Shorts, 2 pair, White running socks, 6 pair, and sneakers by NEW BALANCE and that my friends was in 1982! NEW BALANCE has been making running shoes for the military for a long time. When you buy them they have the made in USA logo and what branch of service your in. I tried to find those local but could not. I think you can olny get them on base. They are made in five locations.… And they a great shoes.

  14. Jen Williams | April 30, 2014 at 10:07 am |

    This isn’t a government purchase, this is the government dictating what brands these people must spend their pay check on. The $80 cash allowance isn’t given to them. It is pulled from their paycheck. The Berry Amendment says nothing about where soldiers can spend their paycheck.

  15. BUT it is ok to hire a potential enemy to support a space station, purchase missal components from China, buy foreign vehicles, guns, clothing, aircraft components and combat boots from other nations. There is a law that prohibits purchase of anything not made in the USA that someone conveniently forgets but applies to a pair of shoes.

  16. John Altevers | April 30, 2014 at 11:12 am |

    When I went through basic training 11 years ago, we were issued US made New Balance running shoes. Just go back to that to comply with the law and everybody is uniform in appearance.

  17. Perry McMullin | April 30, 2014 at 11:19 am |

    COMING UP… The government will be telling us what condoms to buy and use. Maybe the military should set an example FIRST and buy U.S. produced items.
    Government, hear me now; GET YOUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER FIRST!

  18. When I was in boot camp in the 60's we ran in our boots because if you had to run toward or away from your enemy you probably wouldn't be wearing sneakers!!

  19. This protectionism is older than 1944, the Buy American Act went into effect in 1933 and what a cluster f*** it has caused!!!

    If you're building a water or waste-water treatment plant, your programmable logic controller has to be the Texas Instruments unit which is 3x the price of the Japanese controllers and doesn't work nearly as well. Brass ball valves that would cost $20 if you buy Italian made at Lowes or Home Depot cost $150 plus shipping to get American made.

    We've created welfare companies who only sale to the Federal Government because their products are stupidly expensive and no one else will buy them, but we're required by law to go to these companies.

  20. andy konopka | April 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm |

    Typical politic crap…A congressperson is just supporting a contributor to his political fund. If you can't stand the heat,get out of the fire…if you can't build it better than your competitors, get out of the business. And yes, you politicians need to do as you say, before forcing American citizens to do as you say…here that Obama!!

  21. make athletic shoes an issue item, like boots and low quarters. Don't make stupid rules.

  22. Go to a real running shoe store, experts will watch you run and tell you best shoe for you. new balance is for walking.

  23. Go to a real running shoe store, experts will watch you run and tell you best shoe for you. 99% sure it won’t be NB.

  24. Funny how we are buying a lot of Russian made helicopters for the Afghans. let's just ban all foreign products for our military.

  25. Somehow I think the sailors know better what footwear is best and the Admirals and Bureaucrats should just butt out.

  26. Why don’t our Washington officials, also make a law requiring, or better yet, forcing companies to keep their manufacturing plants here in the U.S.A. ?
    Or better yet. Why don’t the U.S. Military to back to performing all PFT functions as the foot gear uniform be COMBAT BOOTS.?????!!!!!! And made in here in the U.S.A.??? Or is that the thing of the past??

  27. Rokranger1989 | May 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm |

    i am overpronator and have problem with high arches, biggest pain in foot when you are doing PT or long distance running. New Balance is IMHO the best running shoe out there among many! MADE IN USA – HOOAH!

  28. At least they some what have a choice. While in boot camp in the Marine Corps ,we had to run in combat boots.It was a real joy.

  29. jay walls | May 6, 2014 at 9:27 am |

    But at least the when you run in boots, it builds up your ankles muscles. When I was in ARMY basic in 1976, we ran in boots. Nobody ever had shin splints. But after the ARMY started having trainees run with running shoes, trainess started to have all kinds of cases of shin splints. Back when we ran in boots, we just only had issues with blisters. That was the only medical condition with feet that ever existed. Now since the running in running shoes, both shin splints, and blisters was the foot medical condition. So not only did the ARMY defeated the purpose of running ion boots, by allowing troops to run in runniong shoes, but caused another medical condition with feet. Running in boots maybe a pain at first, but that is just like anything elese with PT. Keep doing it, it doesn't hurt as bad as it did at first. No I say get back to running in boots.

  30. jay walls | May 6, 2014 at 9:32 am |

    And also, stop issuing those civailan style sweats for PT. You don't need them. Just have a few extra pair of the class C uniform, for PT. That is what they are for in the first place. And No more grey T-shirts that says ARMY. Everybody knows you're in the ARMY. Just wear the OD color T-shirt with your uniform. GET BACK TO THE BASICS. Or is that to ALL MALE?

  31. jay walls | May 6, 2014 at 9:37 am |

    @muttling. Sounds like me, you like foreign products so much. Perhaps your loyalty is not with America. Well if you’re still in the military, when your ETS rolls around, maybe you should immigrate to one of those countries.

  32. Since Congress is paid from taxpayer money, why don't we mandate they buy a pair of NB too if they are good enough for our troops. To take it a step furthur, the POTUS is also paid from taxpayer money. Every piece of clothing on him, his wife and his children, should be made in the good ole USofA too. Somebody has taken a good idea (Buy American) and gone all types of stupid with it as they try to selectively enforce the act.

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