During my short trip to Norfolk over the past two days, I had the chance to talk to an industry official about the upcoming camo competition the Army has launched.
Firstly, I heard both perspectives about MultiCam’s performance in jungle and woodland environments. One industry person with a spec ops background affirmed what the Army’s Tim O’Neil has reiterated many times — that MC doesn’t do well in those environments at all. The industry person also warned me not to equate jungle and woodland as one environment, but two distinct camouflage challenges. The industry official also wondered how other patterns could beat the baseline camos, including AOR-1 and Marpat Woodland, which perform very well in the green space.
Then I spoke with an operator from a unit who recently was authorized to wear MultiCam uniforms and he raved about its performance in a woodland environment (he had not tested it in a jungle climate).
The thing is, in the 2009 Natick camo study, MC came in second best to the Marpat in woodland tests. Admittedly, the AOR-1 pattern was not part of those tests, but still, MC didn’t do as poorly as, say, Desert Marpat, in a green environment. It’s maybe an “apples to pears” comparison, but it’s all we’ve got that’s publicly released.
So there’s a divergence of opinion on MultiCam’s effectiveness in at least a woodland environment and at least as far as the Army’s own tests are concerned, it didn’t fail miserably. Which raises the point once again that my friend over at Soldier Systems Daily raises: if the Army already has an “80 percent” pattern in MultiCam, does it make budgetary sense to go through with tests and possible procurement of three differently patterned uniforms? My gut tells me it’s a science project worth completing, but one has to wonder if The Hill will ultimately fund it.
PS: I recently saw the video of Hyperstealth’s “SmartCamo” in action (though with no sound) and all I can say is there’s definitely something to it.