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WPRC Announces Newest Members

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

We are pleased to share this announcement from the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition regarding new membership. We see several great companies joining this organization and it’s been quite educational to join them each year in Washington as they engage Congress on equipping issues.

WARRIOR PROTECTION AND READINESS COALITION (WPRC)ANNOUNCES NEW MEMBERS
Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition Welcomes Three New Additions to the Board of Directors and Six New Industry Members

MARBLEHEAD, MA (July 31, 2014) – The Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC) is pleased to announce three new members of its Board of Directors and the latest additions to its membership, including several leading companies in the warfighter equipment and clothing industry.

The three new industry representatives who have joined the WPRC Board of Directors include; Don Vavala of W.L. Gore and Associates, Frank Montie of Brookwood Companies, and Nate Smith of Oakley/Eye Safety Systems (ESS). The WPRC Board of Directors represents a cross section of the personal protective equipment industry, providing organizational governance and setting the strategic direction of the WPRC. These new Board members join current WPRC Board Chairman Luke Hillier and WPRC Secretary David Bohannon as leaders of this not for profit industry
association.

The new company members of the WPRC include: Lion Vallen, Outdoor Research, Burlington/International Textile Group (ITG), New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., Patagonia, Inc., and CamelBak Products LLC. The added voices of these leading companies will be critical to advancing the WPRC mission to support the equipment and advanced clothing needs of the Armed Services and Department of Homeland Security.

Lion Vallen – Lion Vallen is a global leader in supply chain and lifecycle management of protective clothing, equipment and uniforms. LVI has a deep commitment to delivering superior services that support customers’ personal safety, readiness and professional identity needs. www.lionprotects.com.

Outdoor Research – Outdoor Research is a designer, developer, and manufacturer of apparel, glove systems, and accessories designed for the military and outdoor markets. Products for the U.S. military are manufactured at their own facility located in downtown Seattle. A full range of products is commercially available at www.outdoorresearch.com.

Burlington/ITG – Burlington leverages its advanced R&D with a diverse range of high performance manufacturing capabilities and a complete range of fiber/fabric blends that deliver state of the art military and commercial solutions worldwide. Their fabric portfolio encompasses applications for extreme weather apparel; camouflage combat and utility materials, tenting, shelter fabrics, shipboard covers and ballistic materials. Information on their military product offerings may be found at www.burlington.com/military-technical.

New Balance – Headquartered in Boston, MA, New Balance is focused on building global brands that athletes are proud to wear, associates are proud to create and communities are proud to host. New Balance is currently one of the few major shoe companies that continue to manufacture athletic footwear in the United States. In 2013, 1 out of every 4 pairs of shoes New Balance sold in the U.S. was made or assembled in the U.S. www.newbalance.com.

Patagonia – Based in Ventura, California, Patagonia, Inc. is a leading designer and retailer of core outdoor, alpine, fly fishing, snow, surf and sport related apparel, equipment, footwear and accessories. Patagonia is a world leader in apparel design, the development of protective garments and an industry pioneer in environmentalism. For more information on Patagonia and their commercially available products, please visit www.patagonia.com.

CamelBak – CamelBak is the leading manufacturer of hands free hydration systems. Special Forces, soldiers and law enforcement around the world use their Military & Tactical products. These offerings include water bottles, hydration packs, backpacks, and protective gear designed for a variety of climates and terrain. A full listing of these military and tactical products as well as commercially available gear is available at www.camelbak.com.

“The new Board members of the WPRC bring a wealth of industry experience and strategic thinking to our ongoing efforts to ensure our men and women in uniform have sustained access to the best American made equipment and clothing,” said David Costello, Executive Director of the WPRC. “We are grateful for their dedication to the WPRC as well as for the participation of our six newest Coalition members in our efforts to support those who serve our country”

The WPRC supports the readiness of the Armed Services by providing a unified industry voice to the U.S. Congress, the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security and other stakeholders. We work at the intersection of the Organizational Clothing/Individual Equipment industry, the federal legislative policy process, and the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Our membership includes companies throughout the equipment and clothing industry and with companies at every point in the industrial supply chain who represent the best in American manufacturing.

Fear Not, New Recruit – Your American Made New Balance Running Shoes Aren’t Ugly

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

During last week’s Warrior West Expo, I had a chance to check out the Berry compliant running shoes being offered by New Balance in response to DoD’s announcement that new recruits will now use their vouchers for running shoes to buy American made products.

Until now, troops have been buying foreign made kicks. Now, the same money that would have purchased these shoes manufactured oversea will be used to buy ones made here at home.

Running shoes have remained the last frontier of Berry compliance for DoD. New Balance and Saucony have stepped up and invested in the technology to manufacture running shoes right here in America. Hopefully, this is only the first step and others will follow. This opportunity is only open to those manufacturers who offer Berry compliant shoes and are willing to undergo certification.

Fortunately, DoD made this happen on their own, as past attempts in Congress were blocked by the likes of Sen John McCain (R-AZ) and others. One more time. Congress did not direct DoD to take this course of action.

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The New Balance 950v2 is a low cut running shoe that incorporates ABZORB cushioning in the heel and forefoot. They’ve been working in this military version for some time.

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As you can see these aren’t “ugly”, as they were recently referred to by the seemingly anti-American manufacturing website Gawker. Ignorant rants like theirs fail to comprehend the importance of the Berry Amendment in maintaining the protective edge for our service members.

Socialism, it isn’t. Ask the countries that have outsourced the production of their defense related textile needs how that is working to for them. They’re not exactly pushing the envelope. America remains the world leader in the development and production of protective clothing and individual equipment for the warrior. It’s investment in our industries like this that make such development possible.

Unfortunately, the ignorant comments regarding this development aren’t confined to Gawker. I’ve seen some really ridiculous stuff spewed all over, including Facebook, various blogs and even here on SSD.

Let me address a few of these claims by internet “experts”.

Everyone will have to wear the same shoe
This is restricted to new accessions so serving members will continue to purchase and wear the shoes of their choosing, just like now. New recruits receive a voucher for running shoes during processing for initial entry training. Now, instead of foreign made shoes, they’ll be offered American made trainers.

I’m still trying to figure out how buying American made products from companies that employ American workers is bad. But, I’ve run across several who feel that the Berry Amendment, which dates from WW II, is antiquated and should be repealed. That is, until I have them consider the alternative. I haven’t met anyone who wants their helmet and armor manufactured overseas.

“Follow the money!” aka “they paid off Congress” aka “they’ve hired a retired General to make this happen”
I’m pretty much sick and tired of this meme. I don’t know of anyone who is actually involved in graft or the greasing of palms. This business space just isn’t that lucrative. In truth, New Balance would be better off selling offshore made shoes or selling American made ones at full retail. The numbers here aren’t that big as they are restricted to new accessions. Make no mistake, New Balance is in business and they are going to profit but they’ve done it (invested in the required infrastructure) in part, because it’s the right thing to do.

Writ large, there isn’t that much money in textile items, at least not ones made in America, for DoD. Granted, some companies, particularly armor manufacturers, made some good money during the height of the war, but considering we are a capitalist society, that’s not a bad thing. However, in case you haven’t noticed, that train has left the station and many firms are hurting in the face of Sequestration.

But, but, but…they’re not Brand Y…I wear Brand Y
Don’t fret, unless you are a new entry, this doesn’t affect you and even if you are, you can buy your favorite brand after basic, even if they aren’t part if this program. The same goes with boots.

This move by DoD is a good thing and if, by happenstance, it turns out to not be, I’ll be there to talk about it.

Warrior Expo – New Balance

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

The New Balance Minimist line has been a huge success and they continue to introduce new models. Here are two of the latest.

First off, I’ll show you a sneak peek at the MX20 V4 which comes early next year. It offers a 4mm drop from heel to toe.

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The MX00 is a completely neutral shoe meaning no drop heel to to toe. Think gym shoe. It’s meant to get those weightlift into a minimalist shoe. It allows for biomechanically correct foot positioning. It’s out now.

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Finally, we’ve got the Fresh Foam 980 which is a neutral cushion running shoe with a 4mm drop from heel to toe. It has been winning awards since being released about two months ago thanks to its innovative Fresh Foam midsole. It’s a single piece of foam that offers concave foam for cushioning
and convex for stability. Awarded “Best Ride” in the Competitor Magazine Spring Shoe Guide. Available now!

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www.newbalance.com

New Balance – Minimus Military Exchange Exclusive Colors

Friday, October 4th, 2013

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New Balance will soon be releasing two models of Minimus athletic shoes, the MX20 and MT1010, in colors exclusive to Military Exchanges.

The MX20 is a training shoe with a 4mm drop from heel to toe designed for weight lifting, resistance training, and mid distance running.

The MT1010 is a trail shoe with a 4mm drop from heel to toe designed for trail running. It features a 1mm ultra-lightweight REVlite midsole and a ROCK STOP plate in the forefoot.

www.newbalance.com/

USAF Approves New Balance Merino Clothing

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

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New Balance announced that on July 19, 2013 the Air Force Uniform Office approved several New Balance items for use with FR uniforms. The items on the list are intended to be worn next to skin only.

It includes a wide range of No Melt No Drip products that are appropriate for a wide range of climates. NB’s synthetic blends and proprietary Merino wool blends will offer Airmen a next to skin layering system appropriate for their unique mission.

AFR701 Flame Resistant T-Shirt
AFR105 Flame Resistant Boxer
AFR105w Flame Resistant FR Women’s Boy Short
AFR801 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Top
AFR201 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Drawers
MIL865 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Light Weight Top
MIL245 Flame Resistant Mid Weight Light Weight Drawers
MIL126 Flame Resistant FR Women’s Boy Short
MIL708 Light Weight Merino Wool T-Shirt
MIL810 Light Weight Merino Wool Crew
MIL811 Mid Weight Merino Wool ¼ Zip
MIL102 Light Weight Merino Wool Boxers
MIL211 Light Weight Merino Wool Drawers
MIL212 Mid Weight Merino Wool Drawers

More information is available at www.newbalance.com under Military. Additionally, unit and agency ordered can be handled by www.ADSinc.com

Warrior Expo – New Balance

Friday, July 12th, 2013

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Each year, New Balance offers a special color run of select shoes from their Minimus line to AAFES. This year, they will be the MX20 and 1010v2. Both will hit Exchanges in October.

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I’m pretty excited about this new MX20 mid-trainer. It offers all of the advantages of a minimal training shoe with the mid height. It kind of reminds me of a wrestling shoe. Look for these 1/1/14.

www.NewBalance.com

Warrior West – New Balance

Friday, April 26th, 2013

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New Balance developed an FR bra and boy short to fill the capability gap in the Army’s Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble. They were designed for New Balance by a former Moving Comfort employee with a great deal of experience creating performance undergarments for females.

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New Balance models in a similar fabric are already issued to deploying females in the Air Force, the bras and boy short are currently stocked at AAFES MCSS in 120 stores for private purchase.

www.newbalance.com

Warrior West – New Balance Abyss USA

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The 601MBK Abyss USA is a Berry compliant version of the popular 6″ water boot manufactured in Skowhegan, Maine.

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It features a 2-part insole system so that it can be worn with dry suits or to accommodate thick socks. It features a Vibram outsole with integrated drain holes. The combination of synthetic and mesh make the upper very abrasion resistant yet breathable. In fact, it is designed to release all water in less than 3 minutes with testing indicating it can accomplish this feat in as little as 45 seconds.

The Abyss USA is already in use with US military units.

www.newbalance.com

Open Range Service Group Military Mountain and Cold Weather Workshop

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In late January, Open Range Service Group coordinated the Military Mountain and Cold Weather Workshop, a two day round table workshop designed to bring together Military and DoD personnel with industry leaders in the area of military equipment for cold weather and mountainous operations. Held in Essex, Vermont the location is well known to those in military mountaineering circles. The forum of discussions provided insight on operational requirements based of lessons learned, current technology and future developments to support mission requirements and future needs. Topics covered ranged from advanced fiber technology and materials used for insulation in cold weather protection garments, individual mountain equipment to include stoves, sleep systems and lighting. A third day was dedicated to actual ice climbing training that utilized products discussed in the workshop briefings.

Denali Climb for the Fallen, 2nd Ranger BTN, Open Range Service Group from Marc Womack on Vimeo.

The conference kicked off with a presentation on the Denali Climb for the Fallen by members of the 2nd Ranger Bn and led by Open Range Service Group. This video is a synopsis of the ascent. The group summited Denali on Memorial Day of 2011. This key presentation really set off the tone of the entire event and while the climb was completed under training conditions, the environmental challenges faced by the crew were the same as in combat. This led to excellent observations on kit, nutrition, health and techniques. In later presentations, I was able to make direct correlations back to the initial address which was very helpful considering I had never undertaken a climbing expedition.

I attend a lot of seminars and trade shows and I have to say that this event was well worth my time. The subject matter was poignant and the speakers and attendees were a great mix. There was heavy attendance by military and industry personnel involved in mountain and cold weather ops. I was really impressed with the backgrounds of military and civilians alike and everyone added to the discussion but from different perspectives. While ultimately, everything is based on civilian climbing, different units adopt different techniques and gear at different speeds.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of ORSG’s events in the future, make sure you do it. I can’t think of many conferences where you can talk about new techniques and technologies and then try them out. If it’s even half as good as this one, you won’t be disappointed.

I want to give out a special thanks to my hosts Open Range Service Group and in particular, sponsor Primaloft.

Also, be sure to ask ORSG about their excellent performance t-shirts from New Balance commemorating the Denali Climb for the Fallen. Proceeds from sales of the shirts go to the Pointe du Hoc Foundation.

openrangesg.com

Run Walk to Home Base 9K Run

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

On May 20th the Run Walk to Home Base 9K Run will raise funds to provide clinical care for veterans with combat stress or traumatic brain injury as well as support services and counseling for wounded vet’s families. Presented by New Balance, the Red Sox Foundation, and Massachusetts General Hospital participants can run or walk with the finish line at Fenway Park’s home base.

One of our industry friends is participating. For those of you who’d like to support this cause visit www.runtohomebase.org/runtohomebase/SupportRolandsRun