Footwear giant New Balance is working to equip U.S. troops with athletic footwear for their training operations.
The Department of Defense (DOD) awarded New Balance a $17.3 million firm fixed price contract to supply U.S.-made New Balance athletic shoes to initial entry service members when they arrive at basic training.
New Balance, which operates manufacturing facilities throughout Maine, secured one of three contracts granted by the DOD for U.S.-made athletic footwear. The contract awarded by the Defense Logistics Agency, involves a base performance period for 18 months.
Maine delegation members, including U.S. senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine), along with Representative Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine), applauded the contract and previously advocated for the inclusion of a provision in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a series of U.S. federal laws that required the DOD to consider providing initial entry service members with American-made athletic shoes.
With New Balance athletic footwear, the DOD can support the Berry Amendment, which requires the U.S. military to provide personnel with U.S.-made equipment and uniforms.
“By including our provision in the fiscal year 2017 NDAA and ensuring the DOD applies the Berry Amendment to athletic footwear for recruits, the Pentagon is now rightly prioritizing American workers and supporting American jobs to equip U.S. troops,” Collins, King and Poliquin said in a joint statement.
The provision included in the fiscal year 2017 NDAA resembles the Buy American Act introduced by Collins and King, in addition to the Stepping Up for American Workers and Troops Act, which Poliquin presented two years ago. Sen. King, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, advocated to add the legislation as an amendment to the Senate’s NDAA version when the Committee marked up the bill. Rep. Poliquin also urged for the provision’s inclusion in the House’s NDAA version and petitioned House members to vote down an amendment that would diminish the provision.
The Berry Amendment, which has been a long-standing law since 1941, has faced a slew of issues, including complaints about U.S. military personnel’s combat boots and service uniforms not made in the U.S. Despite efforts to remedy these complaints, it is said that the entire DOD has not previously signed up new athletic footwear recruits that align with the Berry Amendment.