Army Camouflage Industry Day: No UCP Allowed

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.


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?

23 Comments on "Army Camouflage Industry Day: No UCP Allowed"

  1. So basically they wasted a couple billion to field a camo that did not work, another couple million to field UCP-Delta and Multicam which ALSO did not work, and now they are wasting more money to figure out that they should have just gone with two camos to start, because there is no such thing as universal. If they had given me a tenth of the amount they threw out the window, I would have told them that. How much do you want to bet they wont end up taking Multicam either? My bets are on MARPAT but maybe that because I'm a Marine.

  2. "So its a race between MARPAT and Multicam."

    No – its a race between them and the 3 (to-be-selected commercial patterns).

    All in all, it sounds like a very sensible approach that the Army is taking this time around. Yes, UCP was a waste of time and money – but its better to fix the mistake than to perpetuate it….

  3. What pattern for artic and/or snowy terrain? We never going to have to fight in a cold snowy environment>

  4. MARPAT was originally dsigned by NATICK. The Marines didn't "invent " that pattern. The MARPAT patent lists U.S. Army research into fractal pattern camouflage as the basis for MARPAT.

  5. This is a prime example of not listening to your soldiers. There was years ago a poll with swatches by Army Times saying pick your favorite cammo. ACU wasn't the winner. Some wannabe scientist at Natick, or some Col with Stars in his eyes decided that ACU was a winner. It is a crying shame that armchair commandos put us in this useless uniform. Now they FINALLY have to fess up to a "my bad". 2 patterns are needed Arid and Woodland. Then get new designed over whites for arctic regions. There are better options out there than MARPAT.

  6. @Stefan S – Actually Marpat is a copy of Cadpat, just recoloured by Natick based on environmental data. ACU was not part of the pick the swatch selection – it was snuck in the back door.

    The 2 Gov patterns will most likely be:
    AOB, but it doesn't have a significant macro pattern.
    The expanded tigerstripe pattern tested by the USMC. It tested better than Marpat, but didn't look revolutionary enough.

    I'm sure Guy Cramer has submitted a Ghostex pattern.

    Dom Hyde's Hydefinition pattern was submitted and should perform very well as it has a macro pattern similar to old Rhodesian, which tested best for long range by the USMC. The micro pattern is good, but may just need to be tweaked a bit – depending on the colour scheme.

    Too bad the Army didn't publish any information to base the proposed patterns on.

  7. I love how the soldier in the pics has his shotgun on his back. where can i find something like that….

  8. Looks like Tigerstripe products are looking at this also, they have new patterns on there website.

  9. The Army is wasting their time. We all know that the ABU is the best camo pattern out there.

  10. Well, a lot more investigation and research has been done since the piece on MM appeared, and there has been definitive confirmation from (in particular) a major in the Canadian Army who worked on the Clothe the Soldier program and has first-hand knowledge of the transfer of the pattern design from the Canadians to the US military.

    Also, several independent parties have done extensive pattern analysis and conclusively shown that the CADPAT / MARPAT / UCP / NWU / AOR / Iraqi Police / etc. are all the same pattern with different colours (and the case of MARPAT and Iraqi Police – have additional logos over-printed onto the pattern as well).

  11. Dev, get images of real Cadpat and real Marpat, then compare.

    Yes, Dualtex was the first dual texture camouflage & Cadpat owes a lot of it's effectiveness to the dual texture concept, but Dualtex is not a digital pattern.
    Square blocks doesn't make it digital.
    Using computer processing to crunch the pattern synthesis maths makes it digital – oh how I hate that term.
    Dualtex was more or less an artistic effort with constraints.

    Both the MM and kamouflage descriptions of how marpat was made come from the same source and is laughable.
    Using the method described gets you junk, trust me, I tried it as part of writing a 200 odd page manual on how to design effective camouflage.
    To get a multi-scale pattern requires a very precise integration of the pattern required at each scale, not a chance it happened by accident.

  12. Thanks for the additional insight.

    Learn something new every day I guess.

  13. Isn't covered by the transitional pattern?…..

  14. X-Camo! Seriously? LOL.

  15. for one thing Marpat/Despat was originally supposed to be purchased by the ARMY, but they opted out for the "universal" aka ACU design. The multicam design will be the most likely choice for every branch to adopt.

    Overall the ACU,Marpat, and desert designs haven't been effective in camouflaging anything.

    O and i would know this because i'm currently serving in the ARMY… a 74D CBRN specialist

  16. There is nothing wrong with multicam!!!! Why can't the army and airforce remove head from anus and just pick something that works. They are so bogged down in their own processes that they can't get out of their own way. I know because I am in their service and I have to deal with the process everyday. Also that ABU uniform makes me want to vomit, it is a certified POS! The services should wear the same combat uniform adopted by all, like the old days remember the old days… Before the wars without end… You know the woodland, almost criminal to say it…. Oh yeah the ABU and ACU are crap, total crap the only service that seems to know is the USMCorps and now the navy yes even the navy woke up and smelled the ocean NWU 2 and 3 great job navy way to go thank you for not f@#king that up. Ok I am done with my rant. Soldier on!

  17. It should not just be ones attached to army units it should be all airmen

  18. Or, more likely is that's a stock image of an airsofter.

  19. At this rate why not just digitize the old BDU and Army DCU patterns?

  20. I'm a former SEAL who served in Vietnam. The bad guys VC/NVA did not have camouflage uniforms and did pretty well. The SEALs wore Levis, OD and Navy Blue t shirts, Tiger Stripes, ERDL Black Jungle Fatigues, and other combinations of uniforms. I'd say our record speaks for itself. The bad guys in Afghanistan and Iraq do not wear camouflage. They seem to have been able to hold there own. Our guys have so many patterns of camouflage it makes my head spin. Camouflage uniforms don't make you invisible or bullet proof. I am not saying that camouflage is bad I just think it it highly over rated. I feel that our tax dollars would be better spent upgrading, body armor, helmets, weapons, communications gear, medical gear and transport.

  21. Multicam is the best universal camo that performs the best across ALL environments.

    Comparing it to two specialized environment camouflage patterns (MARPAT and AOR desert and woodland) is ridiculous.

    Apparently we didn't learn anything from gulf war I and II. or afghanistan.

    Three different patterns works great in theory, until your unit is called up to respond to some third world shithole thousands of miles away. even with adequate preparation like in OIF, we had soldiers running around in desert and woodland. :/

    Universal patterns can happen and we have had them since multicam. But once again, the army is forgetting recent lessons learned to repeat the same stupidity that led to a universal camo to begin with.

  22. white bedsheets and micky mouse boots.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.