Kit Up! spent the day out at the Army Research Lab in Adelphi, MD, yesterday attending the industry day for the Army’s Phase IV camo program.

The day was marked by very detailed briefings on exactly what the Army is looking for in its new camo uniforms, how they plan to test them and what they expect industry to provide.

We were lucky to have our friends from Soldier Systems Daily also covering the event, and over the next couple days each of us will be trickling out gouge on the program. So be sure to check both sites for updates (it’s too much to try to do in one place)…

I’ll start by saying from the looks of it, the Army is sincere about its search for the best concealment technology for its Soldiers. There is no indication the service is going through the motions, no indication it’s rigged in favor of government patterns and the top program managers argued strenuously with us that they would not allow the final decision to be a simple fashion show.

One measure of the sincerity of the Army’s new camo search is this very interesting fact: The service plans to down select to three civilian-made patterns and two government-designed patterns by the end of next summer. Then those patterns will be tested against a baseline of MultiCam/OCP, MarPat desert+woodland and AOR 1 and AOR 2.

Did you notice what’s not there? UCP…

I asked the PM for Soldier equipment Col. William Cole why this was. “We just thought it wouldn’t be productive to have that in the mix.” In other words, the UCP is so bad, it’s not even worth comparing other patterns to it.

Ouch…

So if there was any evidence more convincing that the Army is prepared to ditch the UCP for an improved family of patterns, I don’t know what it could be. The one big question mark, of course, is will the Army be able to fund the program when it comes up for a final production decision in late 2012?

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