The Economics Behind Manufacturing 2-3 Million Berets by June 14, 2001

October 27, 2000

There are serious issues regarding the production capability required to manufacture the estimated 2-3 million berets required for the planned Army-wide issuance and June 14, 2001 donning of the Ranger Black Beret.

The current Active Force = 473,000

The current Reserve Force = 1,000,000+ Soldiers. "The Army Reserve consists of the Selected Reserve (troop program units and individual mobilization augmentees), the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and the Retired Reserve, totaling more than 1,000,000 reservists."

Other factors affecting supply and demand:

  • personnel turnover during the first year of issue.
  • regular beret supplies to Airborne, Ranger, Special Operations and USAF units.
  • Berets supplied to foreign governments.
  • All individuals who will desire a spare beret.
  • soldiers purchasing berets themselves going forward to June 14, 2001.

These factors will have a cumulative effect which will require the Army's supplier to produce an estimated 2-3 Million berets between now and June 14, 2001. Not just the Ranger Black Beret that the Chief of Staff plans on giving away, but any beret.

This means that, in order for the US Army (American Taxpayer) to provide a soldier with an issued beret, of any color, they will have to subsidize new production capability at the Army's supplier company in order to create the quantity of berets required. They don't even know, at this point in time, if they will be able to accomplish the task at hand. They have an economist studying the issue to come up with a solution. Of course, no matter what the economist determines, it is we, the American Taxpayer who will pay for it.

The problem is that this increased production capability will only be needed temporarily as the maintenance production capability -- the amount needed for replacement berets to existing soldiers and to issue berets for new soldiers -- after the new Army-wide issue will be much lower. The annual replacement beret production capacity will be about 1/6th the capacity required to stockpile the estimated 2-3 Million Berets they will need to produce by June 14th, 2001.

This will cause the per-unit cost of each beret to be much higher than what the Army has had to pay in the past, since they will have to bear the expense of increasing the manufacturing capability first. Of course, this means more wasted taxpayer dollars spent on a band-aid solution that will have a 2 month effect on increasing the morale of our troops. We need serious solutions for the problems of our soldiers, beyond what any short term 'bump' in morale may be created with these new hats.