I posted a story on Military.com earlier today that talks about the Army’s plan to recommend that MultiCam become the service’s new camouflage pattern.
Officials running the camouflage effort are now looking at two options to recommend to the service’s senior leadership this fall.
One option would be to make MultiCam the Army’s official camouflage pattern, sources tell Military.com. The second option would be to make MultiCam the service’s pattern for garrison and general deployment use, but also to have a family of approved camouflage patterns that could be issued for specific areas of the world.
It’s strange that Army uniform officials would develop these two courses of action when they are still evaluating the four finalists selected from Phase IV of the camouflage effort. But it’s not really surprising when you look at the allegations being raised about how the Army selected its Universal Camouflage Pattern.
Earlier this week, UCP came under fire again in a story by The Daily, an online news site, which quoted several Army scientists from Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass., alleging that the Army selected UCP long before testing was complete.
I have covered Army camouflage efforts since before the UCP was adopted in 2004, and this is the first time Natick officials have come out on the record criticizing Army uniform officials and the Brass for jumping too quickly on the UCP decision before all the facts were in. Apparently senior leaders at Natick are livid over the statements made by their engineers, but I say they all deserve a medal for having the guts to say what everyone has known for a long time.
There are a lot of opinions out there about how much the UCP decision has been overblown in the mainstream media and on the blogosphere. Well, here are a few facts to consider:
— The leadership at Program Executive Office Soldier chose UCP over the Scorpion pattern, which was developed by Crye Precision for Natick and was very similar to MultiCam.
— Since then, MultiCam has outperformed the UCP in three separate Army studies. Two of the studies came out of Natick — one was completed in 2009 and the other in 2006. MultiCam emerged as the clear winner over UCP and other patterns in late 2009 as a result of PEO Soldier’s Phase III effort to find better pattern for Afghanistan.
— The Army has invested a lot of money fielding UCP-patterned uniforms, body armor, packs, pouches and other gear to every deploying soldier between 2004 and 2010. Now the Army has to pay for MultiCam uniforms and equipment for Afghanistan and UCP for everyone else.
Now to be fair, no pattern lasts forever. The woodland pattern on the BDU lasted 20 years. It appears that UCP is on its way out. It would be interesting to see how long it would have lasted if it was as effective as MultiCam or the Marine Corps digital patterns.