Army to Make Camo Pitch to Uniform Board

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Army uniform officials will present the results of the service’s Phase VI Camouflage Improvement Effort to the Army Uniform Board on February 28.

I spotted this on the Predator Intelligence blog and confirmed it with Program Executive Office Soldier. It’s hard to say if this will mean anything or not. PEO Soldier officials are tight-lipped as ever. They would only say it may be a recommendation or a path forward to where to take the effort that started out as an attempt to find a replacement for the Army Combat Uniform’s Universal Camouflage Pattern.

The Army launched its massive camouflage improvement plan in 2009 when its pixellated UCP came under scrutiny from soldiers, lawmakers and the Army test community. Two studies conducted by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center — one completed in 2009 and the other in 2006, showed that the UCP performed poorly when compared to multiple camouflage patterns such as the Marine Corps desert pattern and MultiCam.

Late last year, the Government Accountability Office put out a report, urging Defense Department leaders to work together and avoid the “fragmented approach” the different services have taken on camouflage development in the past. Each service has developed its own camouflage uniform over the past ten years. Military service leaders have introduced seven new patterns — two desert, two woodland and three universal — since 2002.

The Army’s camouflage effort achieved some success in the summer of 2010 when the service selected MultiCam to replace the UCP in Afghanistan. Since then, the pattern has performed extremely well — not a big surprise to the special operations forces that have been wearing it into battle for years now.

 Whatever happens, the Army’s decision will likely hinge on whether the mandatory defense spending cuts for all the services under Sequestration take place on March 1. I can’t imagine the Army replacing anything if it has to cut training money for up to 80 percent of its combat units.

We will update you as soon as we know something.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox has been a defense reporter since 1998 and is an associate editor for Military.com. 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.

49 Comments on "Army to Make Camo Pitch to Uniform Board"

  1. I still say its best and cheapest to adopt Afghan theater multicam camo and for Europe and North American use old woodland. Be best. And save money in a time when the army wont have any.

  2. Holy. Crap. They're still working on this? Must be the same people spending all that money to find a replacement rifle to the m16. I shouldn't be surprised at the government's efficiency this far into life, but for the love of God…

  3. lots of money down the drain when the best army in the world (wait for the flamewar) is just walking around in OD greens. And around Israel you have every sort of environment you can imagine.

    So apparently the real UCP is just plain old OD green

  4. So…someone want to explain what was wrong with the old woodland and desert patterns again? Didn't the army say something about how they didn't want to look less cool when the Marines adopted the Marpat pattern (no, im serious. I think I remember reading that in an article somewhere talking about the ACU projects)? Even better, why don't they just use Marpat for the whole armed forces, since it's actually shown to be an effective patter

  5. Wish we would just announce multicam OCP as the winner and move on. It is probably the best camo pattern available now and does well in all environments – even woodland. However, I think we are stuck with the awful ACU pattern for a while because congress cannot pull their heads out of their butts and pass a budget. I bet you their pay will not be interrupted no matter what they do. Got to love politicians.

  6. Who among us is really surprised?

    We continue to use a sub-standard weapon for several generations with the M-16 & M-4 variant. NOW we finally recognize we have failed to develop a combat uniform (across the services) that meets the needs of those in the fight? IF tradition holds we will reintroduce the blue wool 1860's uniform made in China for us.

    We have "leaped in technology" in many areas, (ships, propulsion, armour, stealth, aircraft) but we have done little to add that technological leap to the combat soldiers uniform and load bearing equipment.

  7. 7 uniform changes in the last 10 years is a total lack of leadership, leaders are now running around (like chicken little) cutting maint. on existing equipment for a uniform change. which company is supplying money, under the table, for this silly ass b/s. all the armed services of the USA should be using the same battle dress uniforms, no exceptions. the ridiculous amount of money wasted is something someone should be taken to task for. they could be updating/maintaining weapons with the money. this brings to light the fact that the military doesn't need more money, just stop spending money on projects like this. they could stop crying about the .7 increase in wages they are trying to stop and give this money for that. combat experience shows that the uniform does not change the outcome, firepower does. clerks/maint. etc. with new uniforms will not stop the enemy, just waste money.

  8. I am so glad I've retired and don't have to put up with all this stupitidy. Like so many have said, sooooo much has been wasted on this subject. Don't they know there will never be the perfect cammo, unless your a little 4 legged creature.

  9. I am not one of the grizzled or seasoned "old guys", but I will advocate the same thing many of them do.

    It is simple folks, 50/50 NYCO uniforms in either OD, or tan (or some other shade of brown) depending on the amount of vegitation where you are operating. If you need FR uniforms then get FR uniforms in OD or some shade of brown. That is effectivly the "pattern" that everyone puts pilots in, and hiding can be very inportant to them. Especially if they wind up on the ground unexpectedly.

    Single color BDU's cost about $50 a set on the regular maket. OCP is no where near that. Even UCP or the AF tiger stripe unifroms cost twice as much. No body owns the pattern for single color uniforms, unlike Multicam or Marpat. That means no royalty fee and no one can get upset that someone else is wearing it. FR uniforms would be a bit more expensive, but would probably be worth it. But, an FR (or some other specail fabric) uniform in a solid color would be cheaper and easier to make than the same uniform in any patterm since there would be no printing and dying would be a uniform color.

    For the most part if you roll around in the dirt a bit, and you should be good to go. Heck if you bring the cost down enough, you can just hit the uniforms with a rattlecan like guys have been doing with their helmets and weapons of late. If I recall correctly that was done in Vietnam.

    As for gear color, the Marines got it right, or rather kept it right. For decades gear came in light brown and then switched to green. I do not see why it needed to change. By having gear made in all these different patterns all we are doing is ensuring the services are constantly either rebuying the same pouches in the color of the day, or forcing our troops to have kits done up in multiple patterns. Mismatches of gear may clash and wind up less useful camo wise or worse offer aiming points for the bad guy. A UCP pouch sorounded by MC everything else is a great point of aim.

    Whatever they decide to do, I hope the change over is gradual and a function of attrition of old stocks. And I hope what ever the Army does, the AF follows suit. It would simplify logistics and save money if the two services used the same uniform. The AF already uses most of the same gear, outside of some Battlefield Airmen specific gear for special radios and the like.

    I doubt we will be able to talk the Marines into going back to a uniform uniform. They absolutely thrive on being different and set apart, but that should be neither supprising or a big deal. Those guys love having their own seperate everything. Besideds what they have works, unlike the Army and AF failures. I would take just two of the four services embracing a KISS approach a huge victory.

    (I excluded the Coast Guard from this rant because they already wear solid uniforms.)

  10. Burkhalter………One of the reason's no other service branch uses MarPat (other than the Marines) is because the Marines have copy rights to it and refuse to allow anyone else to use it. The fact that it might save lives means nothing to the narrow-minded Corps.

    The other part of this is that Multi-Cam actually performed better than MarPat in the field.

    To save money all U.S. service branches should use the same camo pattern.

  11. MultiCam for everyone? Leave the Marines alone, they now what they need. Marines are the best buy for the buck in every category including and especially uniforms. While the Navy is a never ending request for new uniforms at taxpayer expense and the Air Force and Army less so, the Marines rarely change, are notorious for frugality and only when truly necessary. The Marines wisely patented their unique MarPat and everyone else has been trying to copy or steal it since. The Navy even went so far as to steal their items of service uniforms and unique utility cover with only color changes.

    So leave the Marines alone, let them decide on what they need and not force MultiCam on everyone. Let the Air Forces, Army and Navy do what they must but within reason, there is no money for a new uniform every couple of years.

  12. more garbage uniforms,bring these jobs back to America,why should this stuff be made in pakieville or china?

  13. Can we please just STOP. STOP spending money, we are after all down sizing and pulling out. STOP buying new uniforms and the "S!#T" that goes with it. Assult bags, IFAK, poncho liners and even sleeping bags. Lets stop spending. I do the same with my household budget. No unnessary items till eventhing is PAID. Do you really need to have people saying this all the time??!!

  14. I vote to go back to OD green it worked fine for a big war and several multi year smaller wars. Let the spec ops have the cammies, and if some kind of cammoflage is essential issue a reversable winter/summer smock like the Germans did in WW2. KISS

  15. I agree with "Moondawg"….go back to solid OD and or the WWII German smock…I was in W. Germany in the early 60s for 30 months and we were taken aback when seeing some tiger striped Green Berets out of Bad Tolz. Hell, we thought they were French troops at first…berets?

  16. Thanks for the update Matt

  17. Have you noticed the Army has more uniform changes in the past few years than a modle in a fashion show. This is where our taxpayers dollars are going.

  18. I may be stupid, but it seems to me that the US Government owns the intellectual property in MARPAT -or more correctly, the people of the United State of America, as represented by their government. Not the USMC.

    Since when does one arm of government sue another arm of government for IP breaches, when they are both simply extensions of that single government? Perhaps a lawyer could steer me straight, but it seems to me that if there is a decision that the Marines have the best overall pattern, then why doesn't the Secretary of Defense simply issue a directive that the pattern is to be used by all branches of the service? After all, they all answer to POTUS as their CiC through the Secretary. Perhaps someone should tell Panetta how to do his job.

    But then again, I may just be stupid.

  19. Gay agenda, clothes a soldier does not make.

    Issue Olive Drab for all units not in actual combat, issue camo of the appropriate blend for the terrain the battle/war/mission will be fought.

    Unable to refuel one carrier but still able to buy clothes, sounds like a woman thing to me.

  20. The M113 is certainly miles better than the Stryker and the Bradley chassis in many circumstances. Our mistake was not adopting the "A4" variant, which could fulfill the bradley and stryker role. now the army has three different vehicles with different chassis and parts :(

    It amazes me that multicam has been around since 2005. They should have forced all branches to adopt it.

    this bullshit has to stop.

  21. Make everybody adopt multicam!!! done. finished. end of interservice rivalry with 20 different uniforms.

    Multicam, coyote brown boots, coyote brown t-shirt/thermals. Done. Inexpensive, effective, and simple.

  22. those uniforms are made in the US. its called the berry amendment. prisoners and the blind.

  23. they are different. lance is right.

    different shades. Perhaps the alternative to multicam is to make all services (if the marines want to keep their stupid marpat) adopt that one.

    or do what the IDF does and issue simple OD green uniforms (no black boots for fucks sakes) and have highly breathable camouflage oversuits.

  24. Greg, the Marines were the first ones to say, “Hey! wait a miniute, we want something “new looking.”

    The Army "ended up with UCP" after the Marines refused to share after half a century of borrowing Army patterns.

  25. "It is probably the best camo pattern available now and does well in all environments – even woodland."

    Uh, no. Check out my post above and the ’08 analysis

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/19823845/Photosimulatio

    "From the ’08 analysis (p15), ELEVEN of twelve tests a version of MARPAT beat Multicam! In EIGHT of twelve (75%) Desert MARPAT beat Multicam. In three tests BOTH MARPAT patterns beat multicam."

    Seems that Multicam fans are as blind as those who selected UCP?

  26. Did you notice if the Marines didn't restrict their camo pattern for the first time in our history that we all might still be using common camo patterns?

    Who caused eight different camo patterns and a huge waste of money?

  27. LOL youre right. the Marines are NOT frugal.

    That EFV debacle is something epic!

    I remember reading about the duck hunter camo. It was reversible right!?

  28. Correction, there are plenty out there that are better than the M4/M16 family. it's that there are none that are better ENOUGH to be worth the re-equipping, armourer re-training, infantry re-training, replaing duty racks, replacing clamps and racks in vehicles, printing costs of entirely new manuals. Plus many other costs that will show up that no-one has thought of yet.

    The very first M16s out in Vietnam sucked, and the ammo sucked worse with a very dirty powder. with the -A1, -A2, -A3, revisons and the M4, plus modern CLEAN burning powder, better plastic tech and all the other changes, the current issue M-4s work well enough and are far better than the first 'Nam issue weapons that it's simply not cost effective to replace the lot across the service for what is would cost versus the benefit involved.

  29. Adopt Multicam for the basic fact that it's already in the inventory. Pretty much anyone going to the stan is getting issued the OCPs. It's been considered effective as a quote unquote universal camo. The whole idea should be to save as much at they can with during a switch, since the OCP uniform is already in the inventory, has been issued, and most likely stockpiled. Since folks will be coming back with ocps why not replace the current UCP ACU through attrition?

  30. You are correct. The United States of America as represented by SECNAV owns the copyright to MARPAT and the associated technology to produce it.

    http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails

    The process that came up with MARPAT is considered government sponsored research. The government can use it for official purposes without paying royalties. Technically the SECDEF could order all services to start issuing MARPAT tomorrow (EGA and all). The Marines would be pissed, but all they could do is complain.

  31. MARPAT is a copyrighted pattern, but the Marines don't own it. The United States of America as represented by the SECNAV owns it.

    http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails

  32. alexander capon | February 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm |

    We need to adopt a similar camo to what the Marine Corps has. It works great in desert environments. The ACU makes you stick out like a sore thumb, also they need to do any with the Velcro, that is getting annoying. Every time I put on my uniform it sticks together

  33. any updates on this subject today? i hope they decide to change the asu's too we look like dam boy scouts in heat. too much shit on them!! go with something simple and bring back the old army green and khaki. thats the armys original colors its always been green! and i hope they just burn all those pt uniforms. stop trying too keep up with the "times" they look like they were made for midgets or stumpy fat people. bring back pride and discipline in ones self image and youll begin to bring back the old army. i hope theyre atleast smart enough to make a camo uniform for the field, and then one for the gayrison life. and oh god will someone have to give me one of them ace cards if they have velcro!!

  34. Any update on this after the submissions today?

  35. CamoReader | March 1, 2013 at 5:44 am |

    Seems that the MARPAT fan base are blind to fact that MARPAT isn't that good anymore. MARPAT is just a copy of CADPAT in different colors. There is nothing really orignal about MARPAT. CADPAT has been around for about 12-17 years. So technically speaking we are using 12-17 year old camoflauge pattern. In the 2010 Natick Sandy Desert Terrain and Cropland/Woodland tests, The U.S. Navy's AOR camo (another copy of CADPAT) was better than MARPAT. Today, there are better patterns now that are significantly better than CADPAT. Guy Cramers/ADS's US4CES pattern is one example of such.

    On the topic of multicam, it is a effective overall pattern. It has been shown in other tests that it has decent/good peformance in various enviroments. So to compare a Specifically designed pattern for one enviorment such as MARPAT and then one that was designed for multiple enviroments is like comparing apples to oranges.

  36. UCP doesn't work at all.

    They'll ditch the M4 carbine improvement program before they ditch the camo effort.

    The M4A1 is functional whereas UCP sux. easy choice imo.

  37. Updates, updates, updates!

    KitUp, it's time for an update! Let us know what's happening, even if what's happening is "no update b/c of sequestration."

  38. If we just want to save money, pull historical hand reciepts off those who are currently in and see who has been issued bdu's, and switch back to those. (sarcasm)

  39. Sorry the marines are not god! They have an effective pattern but that does not mean the best. You have to find a balance and not copyright it! Is the ego so big you are not happy with the blues?

  40. The Marines have found that solid color gear on top of stuff actually hurts camouflage efforts.

    Also they are finding that they have no transitional middle pattern. They need something in the middle like Multicam for their gear and theaters such as Afghanistan.

  41. SFC Earnán | April 24, 2013 at 6:58 am |

    The real function of camouflage uniforms isn't to hide the wearer — human shape is easily recognizable to other humans, we're wired to spot it, and movement is a certain give-away — camouflage uniforms' function is to make it hard for the opposition to get a fast accurate sight picture on our people.

    Solid color uniforms — like the ODs that the dinosaurs keep whining about re-adopting — make it easy to aim center-mass.

    Contrasting field gear — armor vests and so on — makes it easy to aim center-mass.

    Effective camouflage uniforms cause the wearer to blend into both himself and his background. It is much harder to pick out a target when there is no easily recognized torso, head or limbs that shout "human!" and guide the shooter's eye towards center-mass.

    The leadership of the Marine Corps should be flogged with chains for their MARPAT nonsense. They placed Marine Corps "specialness" over the lives of other Americans. If MARPAT is the most effective, then all US forces should be wearing it and the Marines can cry themselves to sleep. If it's not the most effective option, then why in the Hell are Marine leaders handicapping their troops and placing not just their (our) Marines' lives but America's military effectiveness at risk?

  42. #1- Effing Army, just adopt MultiCam already ! With all of the money you have invested in it; it would be stupid to start over from scratch! But then again; it is the US Army !

    #2- People are asking "What's wrong with the old 4 color or OD BDUs?' They're obsolete patterns, Gents ! The US Continental Army wore BLUE uniforms in combat, partly because it was considered a good concealing color. Who wants to switch to solid blue BDUs ?

  43. I think the ups delivery guy uniform would be a great disguise, nobody would ever shoot at them ,(kinda like ( Santa Claus )

  44. A certain General that I won't name, but he's the same guy responsible for the black beret being everyone's head gear, is one of the key people responsible the UCP/ACU pattern. MultiCam was originally intended to be the Army's next pattern. MultiCam was developed though the Army's Future Soldier program by a company called Crye Precision.
    But this General at the time didn't like the MulitCam pattern and thought it was too expensive. If you look at the dates the Marines had released their digital pattern so the General wanted a universal digital pattern developed ASAP. The result is the current UCP/ACU pattern in an attempt to rush something out the door to field the Army with a "digital pattern" that the General wanted.
    MultiCam was developed in somewhere between 4 and 6 years, the UCP/ACU in about 1.

  45. In-case nobody knows this already, the MARPAT uniform was actually an ARPAT (Army Pattern) designed by a U.S. Army Soldier during Desert Storm – where a few uniforms were actually developed for SF guys. The Soldier left the service, but the Marines actually grabbed the design many years later and decided to put a patent on it when they realized the former Soldier didn't have a patent on it. So, the truth here is that the Marines seized an opportunity – and essentially committed plagiarism / copyright infringement and stole an idea already owned by a Soldier in the Army, and the Marines try to pretend this is their uniform because they have a patent on it. Remember, having a patent doesn't necessarily mean an original idea or concept was created! Additionally, National Security is every branch of service's business, so what makes the Marines think they can decide which uniform servicemembers can and cannot wear?

  46. It is great to have a discussion such as this with everyones opinion out there but the only true opinion are from the ones who operate on the ground. If a new Camo pattern such as the MUTI-CAM will save lives as it has been proven then this is the choice. The current ACU pattern glows in the dark as we sadly found out in IRAQ when we lost 3 Soldiers due to being seen in the dark with no optics used by the enemy.

  47. It is said we own the Night because of our technology so we operate at night alot. With that being said if a new camo pattern will improve our non visability at night and in the daylight and that it does proven with the MULTI-CAM uniform we had worn in Afganistan then how do you question that.

  48. Solid colors donot blend with anything as it produces a silhouette in the datlight and dark so the saying fire power wins wars well the fire power is brought fought with and deployed in the war by Soldiers such as myself and the more of us that stay alive doing so saves money, keeps combat power at its peek, and get the job done more effeciently and faster. By all means i'm more than willing to give you a set of ACU's and let you go for a midnight stroll in the ANBAR Povidence try this out for your self then we can revisit this subject if you come back.

  49. Simple solution: Navy back in blue chambray shirts & Dungarees, everybody else not involved in actual ground combat in O.D.Green. I was a 19D10 in Germany from 77 to 79, and always stayed hidden in in the field, even in those Korean-War-vintage wool OG green shirts & field pants. A well-trained soldier/marine can make his own camo better than he can buy from Clothing Sales. And lose that ".22 on steroids"…7mm or better…!

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