Lets face it, the tactical bubble has burst. As the war winds down, things have slowed up quite a bit, but sequestration has put an end to not only training but the purchase of commercial soldier systems commodities.
Tactical Tailor’s Casey Ingels is in Washington this week to meet with members of Congress. One remedy that has been mentioned is to introduce legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security to fall under the Berry Amendment. Here’s the problem with that approach. It’s been done. In 2009 the Kissel Amendment (Berry Amendment Extension Act) required DHS to adopt Berry Amendment buying policies which require all textile based commodities to be manufactured in the US from US raw goods. Berry dates back to WWII and was intended to protect both the industrial base as well as the military. Unfortunately, the Kissel Amendment turned out to be a failure. In 2009, DHS decided that it didn’t really apply to them becuase of this statement in the law, “applied in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.” It gave them an out that they needed in order to continue to purchase foreign goods. Can you imagine anything more ridiculous? Border Patrol agents are issued foreign manufactured uniforms. It’s almost insulting.
Recently, the federal government agreed on new terms for TSA agents that would raise their annual clothing allowance to over $500. Currently, the contract for these uniforms is with fashion house VF. Agents have an account and order their uniform items online through VF’s website. Unfortunately, those uniforms are no made here in the US.
Two immediate things could happen that would breathe some life into the US tactical industry that has made possible the amazing modernization of the US service member’s clothing and individual equipment over the past 10 years.
First, the Army needs to stop messing around and announce their new camouflage pattern. Second, Congress needs enact tough legislation that places not only DHS but the entire federal government under Berry, requiring them to purchase their clothing and individual equipment from US sources. There are enough loopholes that foreign produced specialty items can be procured and if the demand is there, US based manufacturing will be established. Additionally, Congress needs to pressure the Obama administration to issue an executive order requiring DHS to comply with the spirit of the already existing Kissel amendment.