U.S. Army Tried to Buyout MultiCam Maker

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It’s amazing that the Army’s camouflage is still in the news after five years. That’s how long its been since the Army first acknowledged that it had to do something about its ineffective Universal Camouflage Pattern.

Crye Precision LLC — the creator of MultiCam — finally spoke out on the Army’s attempts to adopt the pattern for service-use in the form of a chronological account of the Army’s attempts to “negotiate” with Crye over the price of MultiCam. I talked to Caleb Crye yesterday for my story that ran this morning on Military.com.

What seems to be at the heart of this issue is Army uniform officials can’t seem to accept that they have to pay more for MultiCam than they did for UCP.

Really? Let’s do the math here. After at least five scientific studies — four by the Army and at least one by special operations forces — MultiCam has outperformed UCP and performed as well or better than many other patterns on the market today. Is it that much of a surprise that vendors are going to charge up to 20 percent more for uniforms and gear printed in MultiCam than they would for the same stuff in UCP?

There has been a lot of talk about the “royalties” that Crye Precision receives from MultiCam sales. According to Caleb, those numbers are highly inflated. He lays out pretty clearly that the “printing fees” he receives account for about one percent of the 20 percent price hike uniform companies want to charge the Army for MultiCam.

“They attributed the cost difference to us incorrectly,” said a clearly frustrated Crye official during a March 19 phone interview with Military.com. “The Army doesn’t get its uniforms from Crye yet it is complaining to us that the uniforms cost more. We don’t control how vendors price things.”

So instead of paying for the extra money for a sold performer, the Army pressed Crye for a figure the Army could pay to own the rights for brand MultiCam, and essentially Crye Precision LLC itself. I can’t imagine how that would work, since MultiCam is so widely sold on the commercial market.

The Army rejected Crye’s $25 million figure and offered no counter proposal, according to Crye. What’s really confusing is why the Army expects industry to grant it favors and discounts when the Army continues to ask companies to spend their own money to develop gear and weapons for programs the service isn’t serious about fielding.

Now the Army is planning more camouflage tests. I understand the financial challenges the Army is facing, but this is still an easy problem to solve. The Army should negotiate the best price it can get from industry and  field MultiCam to the entire force — the soldiers are worth it.

 

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.

18 Comments on "U.S. Army Tried to Buyout MultiCam Maker"

  1. The really hilarious part of this is that Multi-Cam was on the table when the Big Yankee Army blew it off for the "Bunch Of Grapes" ACU.
    Caleb's a good guy. Hope he makes another bundle off of this. They could have saved a shite-load of money just by going with MC in the first place.

  2. The whole camo issue was never a problem till brass made it. We should have stayed with BDU woodland and 3 color desert camo. This is proof how corrupt brass is they rammed UCP threw w/o test and wont buy a good camo for its troops.

  3. What's amazing is that Army didn't make a counter offer. Crye had a number in mind, $24M was just the starting point. That Army could take this nowhere, in spite of NO GOOD REASON to eschew "stuff" for ownership of the intellectual property behind it indicates a bunch of people with ZERO understanding of how business is done. No wonder Family Day always sucks.

    No reason to control it beyond ITARS, and there are IFF signatures you can put into what's bought for government use if need be. You don't see people falling all over themselves to print MARPAT with EGAs.

    If Crye and producers like Duro got OCP to within 1% of UCP, that's freakin' AMAZING; OCP is way more colors (with registration) and 2-3 gradients. UCP is two shades of foliage onto tan fabric with ZERO registration requirements.

    Whoever was involved in this latest debacle needs to be dealt with. Harshly.

  4. The military screwed the pootch years ago with them ACUs now they want to fix the ten year old mistake! Whoever approved the old uniform should be courtmartialed along with all the boondoggle wasters inter govt!

  5. Vendors aren’t stupid. Of course multicam will be more expensive than UCP. In my case, you’d have to pay me to wear UCP (btw, the Army does), but I’m willing to spend my own money on multicam.

  6. Im taking the Army's side on this. better to design a new pattern then be price gouged by a war profiteer. that's what this story sounds like, Crye Precision got greedy and, in a few years when the new hipster pattern comes out… Crye will fade into well deserved obscurity.

  7. Juanito Grande | March 21, 2014 at 10:03 am | Reply

    If there is no congressional directive for a universal service uniform, there certainly SHOULD be. This current situation (multiple branch-unique field uniforms) demonstrates the ineffectiveness of big government.

  8. REAL TREE CAMO SUCKS!!! AND OTHER HUNTING CAMO ALSO. MULTI CAM, ATAC AND ATAC-FG WORK FINE FOR MY NEEDS, FOR DESERT AND HIGH COUNTRY HUNTING IT WORKS VERY GOOD .
    IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE ARMY CAN'T MAKE UP THEIR MIND ABOUT ANYTHING ANYMORE, FROM BETTER CAMO TO A BETTER RIFLE FOR GRUNTS. THEY NEED THESE THINGS. TO MUCH FLIP FLOPPING GOING ABOUT CAMO AND RIFLES.

  9. Ron…buddy…calm down. Take off the caps-lock.

    So what's wrong with adopting Scorpion – which the Army already owns, and is very similar to Multicam/OCP? Most people would probably be hard-pressed to note the differences between the two.

  10. Whichever pattern works is what is needed. What I question I post is that 5 uniform changes in last 15 years is a bit out of order. I agree with congress, one uniform for all forces… in a real life situation a sniper will pick up on any uniform in about 5 seconds. At the ranges we have been exposed to, lately, I would venture to say the pattern means nothing in just a few minutes. They are bit-hing about pay for members when the amount of money spent on uniform changes could pay for several new troops. Lets get real and give the troops the support and money and quit fighting over a silly assed uniform color or design.

  11. Pay Crye whatever they want for multicam.
    Use the pay, pensions, etc of anyone in the army/government who rigged the game to use UCP instead. There are many dead Americans because someone brass shit head has an agenda.

  12. Crye and vendors need to quit being greedy SOB's and charge a fair price for their products. It's the American tax payer that they are taking advantage of to line their own pockets.

  13. It is Crye's product. They get go charge what they want, or you go elsewhere. If there is value in their product, then there should be a price differential.

    Having said that, the uniforms are designed wrong, and it isn't the camo pattern. There should be an environmental layer to keep the soldier warm/ventilated, an armor-load layer to hold body armor and load bearing equipment, and an outer layer that alone needs to be camouflaged. The suspenders, ammo pouches ect, don't need camouflage as they should be hidden by the outer layer. Part of what the Army is getting charged is retooling costs by the various vendors as they bid the preparaton for the new pattern.

  14. Also keep in mind that any camo pattern should be garnished to match local terrain. If you don't garnish (with high texture cloth, if nothing else) then your texture alone makes you stand out.

  15. Its all about money for the brass anyway !

  16. Now I have a question. I see people say multicam won the camo competition. Is this correct? Was it selected based on the results of all those tests, or they selected multicam because was close to the best paterns, but had the advantage of already being widely used by the military?
    I’m asking this because I never seen a document showing how the paterns tested did and I’d like to see the results of the actual testing.

  17. I just hope they Phase out UCP before Im old enough to enlist… My uncle Hates the ACU… The army should just go back to the BDU’s they were tougher, more functional, more comfortable, and looked a helluva lot better than the ACU, plus at least they’d blend in to you’re surroundings… Which leads me to another issue with the ACU… Pen holders? Really? I still have not ever heard about anyone in the field griping about “not having enough pens in the field”
    That’s how we all know the ACU was approved by some office POG who’s never seen a single drop if mud in their entire military career…

  18. Multi Cam has been THOROUGHLY tested and is a great "all around" camo pattern – likely better than the Army's Scorpion. But the officer-heavy Big Army can't seem to find its ass with both hands. Witness their desire for a LARGER APC than the already large Bradley.

    And Ron, it appears, from you comment on the "suckines" of Real Tree and other hunting camo patterns that you haven't done much hunting, like say turkey hunting or archery hunting, where effective camo patterns are essential.

    Too bad the Big Army isn't as good at testing and adopting new gear as is the U.S. Marine Corps. But that's like comparing an overweight pack-a-day smoker to a marathon runner when comparing Army to USMC testing and adoption programs.

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