The keys to a strong military are coordinated intelligence efforts, high-tech weaponry, and good shoes "“ American-made shoes, that is, according to certain members of the sneaker lobby.
U.S. law requires that all clothing, boots and dress shoes for new military recruits be American-made. However, one of the exceptions under the so-called Berry Amendment, which was originally passed in 1941, is athletic footwear. The estimated 225,000 new military recruits every year, instead, receive a cash allowance to buy their own sneakers with no requirement on where the shoes were made. The Pentagon program is valued at $15 million a year.
This program puts the training of U.S. troops at risk, says Matt LeBretton, the director of public affairs for American shoemaker New Balance, one of 13 companies urging President Obama and lawmakers to back a change to the Berry Amendment. He argues that an insufficient shoe could either increase the possibility for a training injury or lead to hamper troop fitness.
Sequestration, it would seem, is not the only thing that could affect military readiness.
"It only makes sense to have a shoe that's designed for the rigors of training," LeBretton said. "And they're not doing that today."