The U.S. Footwear Industries' Ability To Meet Military Mobilization Needs

NSIAD-85-35: Published: Jan 3, 1985. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 1985.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reported on the domestic footwear industries' ability to meet Department of Defense (DOD) needs in the event of a major military mobilization.

Over the past 15 to 20 years, imports have come to dominate the domestic footwear markets. During the period, domestic shipments of footwear have decreased about 50 percent, while imports have increased more than 230 percent. The loss of commercial sales has caused many U.S. shoe firms to cease domestic production and significantly reduce employment. Furthermore, DOD purchases can sustain only a very small portion of the footwear industries. Meanwhile, DOD war reserve stocks of several major types of combat-essential footwear are below requirements due to funding limitations and, once these stocks are depleted, the U.S. footwear industry may face difficulties meeting military mobilization requirements. A series of reports by the Defense Personnel Support Center has indicated that the domestic rubber footwear industry cannot meet the mobilization needs for all types of combat-essential rubber footwear, and it has recommended an allocation to enable manufacturers to expand their capacity to produce insulated cold-weather boots. Preliminary indications are that domestic suppliers can meet all of the DOD needs for nonrubber footwear. However, an industry association commented that, assuming a mobilization requirement similar to that experienced during 1941-42, the domestic nonrubber footwear industry does not have the capacity to meet mobilization requirements.

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