The Department of Defense (DOD) procures nearly $2 billion worth of military textiles, helmets, armor, footwear and clothing annually, through the purchase of more than 8,000 items. But many companies are now operating on Firm Fixed Price contracts that were awarded before the current COVID economic and health crises were realized. Fixed price contracts make it impossible for companies to react to changing business conditions. Costs for labor, health care, freight, energy, and materials have all suddenly and unexpectedly increased by double digits over the past 18 months and show no sign of abatement.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Terri Sewell sent a letter to the DOD asking for action on behalf of America’s defense clothing and textile manufacturers.
“The clothing and textile manufacturers who support our military readiness request your immediate help to make sure the DOD has the authority and funding necessary so that Berry-compliant C&T contracts in distress can be adjusted to give U.S. companies and their workers the wherewithal to survive,” the letter reads.
The Berry Amendment requires the DOD to give procurement preference to domestically produced, manufactured, or home-grown products.
“Without immediate action, many of these companies will be forced to withdraw from all military-related business or close operations outright,” Tuberville and Sewell wrote.
Many companies with long track records of supporting the warfighter have already left the industrial base. In just the past few years, longtime industry stalwarts such as Campbellsville Knits (Ky.), Racoe Manufacturing (Tenn.), and DeRossi & Sons (N.J.) have all closed.