Army Camouflage Update: Some Contenders Difficult To Spot

ADS Inc., recently released its entry into the Army’s Camouflage Improvement Program, but it doesn’t seem likely that we will see all the players in the competition until much later in the game. Kit Up!,  Soldier Systems Daily and Army Times  have been beating our heads against the Army’s door for a look at all of the patterns the service selected for further testing as part of the final phase of the camo improvement program. PEO Soldier has decided it doesn’t have the legal authority to release the five patterns.

The Army is letting the individual companies decide whether they want to unveil their patterns. So far, the ADS Transitional A pattern and Kryptek Inc.’s Highlander pattern are the only contenders to come out of the shadows. Crye Precision LLC, the company that created MultiCam, was also selected as a finalist, but the company is keeping its new pattern hidden for now. The one government pattern selected was developed by Army scientists at Natick, but service officials still haven’t released it.

The Army launched the camouflage effort in response to a June-2009 inquiry by Pennsylvania’s Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who was then chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Before he died in February 2010, Murtha pushed the service to look for a better camouflage pattern after receiving complaints from sergeants about the Army Universal Camouflage Pattern’s poor performance in the warzone. The Army ended up selecting MultiCam to replace the UCP in Afghanistan in early 2010.

The Army is scheduled to evaluate the finalist patterns in field trials that will likely last until spring 2013. But with defense spending on a steep decline,  it seems hard to believe the service will shell out the money for new camouflage uniforms.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox has been a defense reporter since 1998 and is an associate editor for He traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq numerous times from 2002 to 2008, covering infantry units in combat. Matthew was an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.

54 Comments on "Army Camouflage Update: Some Contenders Difficult To Spot"

  1. well…. at least it doesnt look like those field gray confederate army throwback shades they've been wearing for the past 6 years.

    im all down for either "olive drab" or 1980's forest. untill predator suits come out.

    because who really gives a crap… certainly not the taliban snipers.

  2. What's the point of camo on the plate carrier? Follow the marines and instead use ranger green.

  3. I see a lot of Navy EOD guys where I live wearing a uniform that looks quite similar to the one above. It almost looks like washed out woodland Marpat cammies, but the pattern is somewhat different. Has the navy adopted this pattern already?

  4. I am still trying to figure out why this is taking so long. Come on really Big Army? Are people that affraid to make a decision after the bad call on the ACU design? We have created a system designed to be so fair that they have red taped it into the ground. I like the design by US4CES shown above. I wonder how that one performs.

  5. I'm really liking the US4CES offering as well.

  6. Ranger green and coyote brown are both really effective colors and pretty cool looking but the latter only matters in recruiting and to the brass. I still think you sacrifice a lot performance with a big solid color plate carrier though. Camo colors are to blend you in and break up out line but big solid colors scream "Here I am and here is my center mass since my new camo pattern is so effective you cant see anything else. I still wanted you to have a chance." Web gear back in the day was OD Green (probably more universal than ranger green but not new or high speed enough) because you only wore a belt and harness/butt pack on patrol before widespread flackjacket use. The brits covered their alice packs with reversible woodland/desert DPM covers that I believe waterproofed them to a degree. They also werent afraid to wear desert camo pants and woodland blouses or OD green pants in grassy areas with woodland blouses to match with trees and bushes higher off of the ground. They are pretty brilliant for their flexibility in my opinion.

    I think the army could ditch the 4th pattern for gear since they are making a transitional pattern. Or ditch the transitional as well and make armor carriers that are reversible like the Marine Corps helmet cover is but in whichever the most effective woodland and desert patterns found in this testing are or the best wood or desert specific patterns that perform ok in transitional use. If its the camo part that makes printing the gear more expensive rather than buying 2 different sets of gear in different patterns, than do reversible coyote brown and ranger green so you still have flexibility for different environments. We already see PALS webbing being removed from the latest carriers to make that a nonissue. Either way, if the Army says the camo is chosen and allowed for soldiers to wear it, companies WILL make it and many will buy it out of their own pocket and big budget units like JSOC and Ranger recon company will buy what they think works best plus police agencies, contractors, other NATO units will as well which will drive down cost some but the bottom line is some big whig will just have to say Soldiers are allowed to wear it and we know how that goes in a lot of cases.

  7. If you think that kids looking to join the military don't think about the kind of uniform they will be wearing, then wise up. I have 23 years in the Army, all of it in combat arms. One of the reasons I chose the army over the Marine Corps was I didn't like the Utility Cover. Stupid? Yes.
    Like it or not, the services are in competition with each other for kids, and kids think about how they look. It's part of becoming an adult. I hate the ACUs just as much becuase of how poorly they conceal me as the fact that they make me look 20 pounds over weight.

  8. I hope they make combat shirts that have the "body section" either camo or in coyote brown or ranger green. It drives me nuts to see the Marines FROG gear and multicam combat shirts with all that "sand" (Which really just looks white) almost ruining any effect of the pattern. At leat have it go down the sides of the body like the Massif UCP combat shirt had and on the collor like many already have.

  9. Anybody have any info on why ATACS got cut?

  10. where can i buy a set for my father? needs for a wedding. thank you for any help.

  11. "Two things you can count on in America: Taking a good idea and running it into the ground and taking a bad idea and running it into the ground." George Carlin-

  12. Who thinks the gov't pattern will be an update of the All Over Brush camo from the original UCP trials?

  13. We have learned that universal patterns don't work entirely, I think that 3 or 4 different patterns for different environments would be acceptable for example; Woodland, Desert, Snow/Winter (an over-suit could be acceptable) and Urban camouflage variants are needed. I personally collect camouflage and I do not think ACU is suitable for any of those environments, however Multicam is suitable for semi-arid environments, this is much more adaptable but still of no use in urban or winter settings.

  14. Yuck that's one ugly camo pattern! This is becoming a waste in money MARPAT with the addition of Multicam would be logical or just returning with original woodland 3 color desert and multicam would be just as good. And the fact is the Army may still stay with ACU so this is blowing money away for nothing.

  15. I thought they were supposed to make the final decision in October this year?
    Why the **** does this take so long??

  16. Remember when woodland and "chocolate chip" worked poorly in their intended environments?

    Me neither.

    The army needs to correct the abortion that is the ACU without it taking five more years and hundreds of millions of dollars.

  17. O.D, Khaki & Black…

  18. 1. This isn't a fashion show

    2. The jarheads will never cough up MARPAT

    3. Multicam like UCP dosn't blend in "everywhere"

    4. Of course they will stay with the ACU it will just have much less velcro, sew on stuff, no zippers, and different camo patterns.

  19. Like Thursday said

  20. F!!! it, tell all the service branches including the Corps to man up and stop with the looking different, ******* match, interservice fighting it's cause getting real old. You all fight under the same flag now get it togeter and use it together, or else we will disband you like yesterday's trash and bring back the militia for a sole defense, atleast they won't fight over camo or a reason to look different like a bunch of whiny spoiled brat little kids in toy store.

  21. Oh they'll shell out alright, if WWIII breaks out they will.

  22. Actually there were complaints about chocolate chip at the time. That camo was developed to go with our deserts and the chips didn't blend in too well in non rocky deserts like Saudi and Iraq. Also ther was a desire to get a more pink tone in the color to blend better with that area of the world resulting in the coffee stain DCUs.

  23. I liked three color desert, worked well in Somalia and Iraq, and I know a friend who was in Gulf War One and loved Chocolate chip camo. MARPAT desert isn't much different just digi pattern.

  24. I wouldn't say that the Marines are going the "cheaper route"- they are going the route that makes the most sense and is the most effective.
    Marpat + Coyote Brown- is effective and modular vs. Full UCP- not effective, not modular, and a waste of money
    M16A4 Rifle (500m)- is effective in combat in Afghanistan vs. M4 Carbine (300m)- is ineffective due to lack of range

  25. Only Seebee units attached with Marines have the digi pattern most stand alone units use M81 Woodland or 3 color desert still.

  26. Same for me. Disappointed A-TACS did not make it.

  27. Why cant they just continue using the same pattern, but just different colors? MARPAT for woodlands, The Navy AORII for transitional (or multicam colors), and AOR I (or desert MARPAT) for desert/arid? The pattern seems to work. Just change the colors and be done with it. How difficult and expensive is that? I hope everyone gets what is best in the end and politics stays out. Also, I hope all branches go back to similar uniforms. Who can tell who is who on the battlefield now? Also, if they are getting too crazy with micro patterns, etc., how much does it matter when the uniforms will get dirty anyway?

  28. Matt good read. The input from Cramer was especially informative. Thanks.

  29. -Majrod
    I find it funny that whenever the Army selects a new cammo to wear, they have to print all of their kit in it and that they had to replace the M203 with a hunk of plastic that most soldiers dont even like (from what I've heard).
    Using the M16A4 doesn't cost the Marines anything extra unlike the Army with apparently has to outfit every soldier with an M4.
    I will not try to explain the IAR because one would have to go to the 4th dimension for that to make sense.
    I don't think the LWH costs anymore than the ACH so?
    You can't complain about the Marines not hopping into the – "if you ask for it, HK will give you a magical, bulky, useless solution- in about 5 or more years" basket with the Army. The M32 is usefull and feildable now.
    We can nit-pick the choices of each service apart but in the end, both have made mistakes and both do their jobs well so we can't complain too much.

  30. Minor nitpick here, the new Cobra is not the Yankee Cobra but the Zulu Cobra, the Y is for the UH-1 only.

    Another thing, the Corps and the Army didn't wear the same uniforms during WW II, very similar in appearance but there were differences. The Corps also had a camouflage uniform that saw use in WW II that, I don't think, the Army never adopted either.

  31. FYI, ACU is the pattern/design of the Army's uniform, hence the name Army Combat Uniform. The camouflage pattern that it comes in for Stateside and garrison wear is called UCP for Universal Camouflage Pattern.

  32. the jungle pattern sole (altama brand) would get shreaded in the mountains in a month. the desert boots also had poor cushioning, though I remedied this issue by wearing true wool socks. Of course, our counterparts wore commercial hiking boots from germany because my unit was more strict on uniformity (which is f–king stupid considering uniformity means **** when you are patrolling in the Hindu Kush)

  33. Or the Army and Air Force can ditch their uniforms and adopt the NWU type III in woodland and desert. It seems to me like that would be sensible.

  34. After Obummer's cuts the military's budget, it is back to OG-107's, Alice Packs and LCE's.

  35. what is going to happen is after all this spending of money they are going to take Marpat and change it just a hair so that we in the army can use it and keep multi cam for transitional. I do like the idea of a reversible plate carrier, from green to tan, although I think flat dark earth would prob be better than coyote tan, and just take OD green and Ranger green come up with a green in the middle and presto there ya go all done. I don't under stand why they make things so complicated some times

  36. Any one else think that US4CES uniform looks too much like the Marines Woodland, it looks amazing but i think some people would get mixed up. I honestly would prefer the Multicam, as long as it gets rid of that awful grey ACP, that looks terrible.

  37. Also from what i'm told, keep on the look out for new US4CES news in the weeks to come.

  38. All the uniforms are now shown in the Army Times and hands down this is the best pattern which is outperforming multicam in tests.

    Just make the decision in a couple of months and start putting this pattern on the UCP.

  39. Majrod, if you want the truth about why ATACS got cut, lay all rumors aside and send me a "contact us" on my website… I can name names and show you exactly where to go to verify everything I will tell you. It is some SHADY business how they got cut and how I KNOW exactly who will win since one of the board members from NATICK has stock in a camo company theyre currently bidding on.

  40. Elbridge Wilson | March 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Reply

    Let's end this all. Agreed the uniform should fit the environment and all serving in that particular environment should have it. The Marines got it right with two styles. My Air Force is still behind the times with the most uncomfortable uniform. Take this into consideration, figure out a couple of patterns based on the environment you're in and have all US forces serving in that area wear the same uniform. The name tags distinguish the branch of service, enlisted wear their rank on a middle tab (like the Army) or on their sleeves, officers wear theirs on the collar (as usual). We could save a lot of money that way. The individuality of the service is by the service tapes i.e; US AIR FORCE, US ARMY, US MARINES, US NAVY

  41. This is just dumb!!! They should either all wear the same uniform or have a uniform for each branch that is different in color but has the same pattern! JUST PICK A F****** UNIFORM!!!!

  42. Ive worn 4 camo patterns in my career, woodland BDU, the DCU, ACUs and multicam.

    I was never on the muliticam bandwagon however, I think ACU is and was a huge mistake for the army….probably the biggest since they adopted the Krag in the 1890s over a Mauser design.

    In this age of austerity we need to just stick with what we have for now…the money to plant camo games is not there.

  43. Bobby Bowman | June 2, 2012 at 2:40 am | Reply

    I like the new camouflage pattern for the army is great, but I think that it should be used in all four branches of the armed services to show that we are united.Also, I don,t like the thought of selling it to other nations so we can recognize our own troops, and not mistake our troops for theirs.

  44. Bobby Bowman | June 2, 2012 at 2:46 am | Reply

    I think that the new camouflage pattern for the army is great, but I think that it should be used in all four branches of the armed services to show that we are united.Also, I don,t like the thought of selling it to other nations so we can recognize our own troops, and not mistake our troops for theirs.

  45. As a current wearer, get rid of the velcro. Was walking through some trees the other day, flag patch hooked a branch and a very loud rip was heard as the patch came off.

    and while we are at it, get rid of that zipper as well.

    As far as the pattern goes, that US4CES looks pretty decent, but still a fan of BDU's. ACUs, no thanks. Multicam, better, but still not there

  46. I have worn it hunting before it came on the market at BDU.COM I shot 3 dear.My buds could not see me nor find me.It works great.This yr I will use my A-TACS so far you can not even see me either.I guess its the uniform,and my sniper skills that also helped.I would love to get my hands on the 3d uniforms.OH y the way I just inherited the newest night vison scope What and where can i get a mount for this scope the rifle will be a AR-15 bushmaster?thanks fellow warriors

  47. Kryptec has their products made in Ho Chi Mihn City. What a slap in the face to all the Viet Nam Vets. Can't we give the business to a company in the U.S. rather than going Communist. I am contacting my Congressman about this travisty.

  48. Idk about everyone else but to blend in to your suroundings why not just wear what the enemy is wearing or interchangable uniforms, in side out.

  49. Time for the competition among the services to stop, one uniform for all, and for state side duty Camouflage isn't needed. the plane old uniform of the past will serve just fine-look at the cost of the uniforms used in nam vs the camouflage of today, our local sheriffs and police departments for the most part use solid colors and they work just fine for 20% of the cost and who needs Air Force personnel setting in offices all day with camouflage and bloused boots on , just plane damn stupid..not many years ago I wore a class a uniform working in my office starting with one stripe and on up.

  50. The Kryptek "Highlander" is the best I've seen yet. From a distance it resembles a Realtree or Advantage pattern relative to the brown tones.
    As I've posted before on this topic, BROWN tones are the most versatile. Brown contains red and red-blend colors are more difficult to focus for the human eye.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.