POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
Berry Interesting, or, Naked Men Make Poor Warriors

by David Trumbull
October 15, 2010

Niche, Inc., New Bedford, Massachusetts, was awarded, last month, a $24 million contract to make parachutes for the United States Army. The Army will be procuring another $6 million worth of parachutes from C&E Industries, Inc. in Fall River, Mass.

These contracts, and scores of military textile and clothing contracts awarded every year, are subject to a regulation, the “Berry Amendment”, that requires the clothing and other textile products, such as parachutes and tents, bought by the U.S. Department of Defense, be made in America. Since 1941 the Berry Amendment has worked to assure that America’s ability to defend herself will never be impaired by an interruption of the supply of vital textile and clothing resources for our men and women in uniform.

Some have argued that we should scrap “Berry” and get our uniforms, tents, and parachutes from cheaper overseas sources such as China. Such thinking is very short-sighted. Think what would happen when—after the U.S. manufacturers had been put out of business by cheap foreign competition—we found ourselves at war and unable to clothe and shelter our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guard because we could not get the supplies from a foreign source that was unable or unwilling to ship to us?

In the fragment (see illustration) from the Bassei Frieze (carved about 400 B.C. and now in the British Museum) we see a nude warrior defeating an Amazon. Nude warriors may make for good art, but I doubt they are very effective in real battle. Military aircraft lacking parachutes because the foreign supplier failed to deliver them when and where needed is not a pretty sight. That is precisely what the Berry Amendment is intended to avert. And thanks to Berry, workers at two South Coast companies will keep their jobs and contribute to America’s security.

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]