Recent figures suggest that only a small percentage of British army clothing and uniforms are actually made in the UK, which has been a surprise to some. Producing official kit used in real life combat by the army costs over £80 million in an average year but only around £5 million is spent actually within the UK. This is in stark contrast to the US, where the law dictates military uniforms have to be made in the country by domestic firms. The question is, does this matter?
There is an argument for doing this like the Americans, firstly because there is nothing more patriotic than supporting the military. Right or wrong, many people in the US feel strongly about supporting military action around the world and trying to ensure that peace is kept and allies are defended, but many of these people are also unable to help directly. That’s why many people feel it’s important to support the military in any way possible, including through the production of uniforms and kit domestically. It might be seen as strange to some people to imagine army uniforms being made in other countries. Not only that, but there is definitely en economic benefit to keeping production within the country that both the UK and the US could certainly benefit from given the large amount of outsourcing that already goes on in other industries.
However, there is a good reason the UK has chosen to outsource so much of its production including military clothing. Keeping costs down is important for any industry and money that is saved on military uniform production can be deployed more effectively in other areas, making the whole operation safer and more effective for everyone. It could be argued that it’s more patriotic to look at the issue from this perspective and not get hung up on where things are created, instead focusing on the end results. There are many companies within the UK that do produce military clothing and equipment, and many of these are also open to the public so it’s easy to find other ways of supporting domestic military clothing production, it’s just that the UK army won’t necessarily be doing more of this in the near future.