Army Lets Soldiers Mix and Match Camouflage — for Now

Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army Pacific commanding general speaks with a Soldier currently training on the Gulkana Glacier near Black Rapids, Alaska, March 10, 2015. (Sean Callahan/US Army)Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army Pacific commanding general speaks with a Soldier currently training on the Gulkana Glacier near Black Rapids, Alaska, March 10, 2015. (Sean Callahan/US Army)

The U.S. Army this month let soldiers mix and match camouflage for cold-weather gear.

That means soldiers can wear the so-called Extended Cold Weather Clothing System in the older Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, over their Army Combat Uniform in the new Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP.

While the decision will likely prompt many a first sergeant and sergeant major to shudder, it’s not a unique move. The service has made similar allowances in the past.

For example, in the early 1980s, when the Army was fielding the Battle Dress Uniform, soldiers still wore permanent press or jungle fatigues with the BDU cap because of uniform shortages, one reader wrote

I think we can all agree that safety trumps style. But what do you think about the mismatch — silly or satisfactory?

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Larry

    I think it is a good thing for a number of reasons.

    First, it just makes sense to let the troops wear their issued cold weather gear, even if it is in a different camo pattern. UCP is a good coloration for snow and pine forests anyway so it should work fine in cold weather training.

    Second, wearing different camo patterns together actually helps to break up the persons appearance because you have smaller blobs of each camo pattern. Hunters have known this for years and do it all the time. The camo testing done by the Army also pointed this out when they tested solid colors on gear mixed with the camo patterns on clothing.

  • JCitizen

    Yeah, I remember when our arctic gear hadn’t caught up with the then new BDU, but quite frankly, I would have wanted the white over garment covers in those situations anyway, as that was the only effective camouflage for winter. I’ve seen French forces use white tape that made them very difficult to spot in wooded terrain. One can always adapt and overcome.

  • Lance

    It be fine but ACU sucks in almost every environment so by using ACU/UCP. be better for the army to just up production of OCP.

  • cj1

    i don’t know how the military can spend millions of dollars and years of study with scientists using fancy computers and what not to find a camo pattern then discover it doesn’t work. Ten rednecks (meant respectfully) from around the country with a week and a bunch of cases of beer can give you the perfect cammo that will work for the next fifty years.

  • SFC D-Man

    Damn I am old. I retired 10 years ago and we had one acronym for the uniform and it was BDUs. HW BDU, CW BDU Desert BDU and now there are many acronym for a uniform. I see why this generation soldiers a confused.

  • Brian

    Best of luck mixing ACU with OCP at FT Lewis aka: JBLM, WA

  • William

    Function plus safety over fashion is a must in the military.

  • Soldierman

    The Army has been getting out of whack with its colors as of late. Yes, it makes sense that if you do not have an OCP fleece; to wear the UCP fleece instead. But I still have my black fleeces from early 2000s that would match better but do not have the velcro to put on our name tapes. Actually, that will go better with the new black PT caps that we now have.

    The Army should have went with green or a brownish PT uniform and stayed away from the black and gold because of West Point. We need green because we are a land force. But the problem is that now and days, we cannot have any color that matches with the Marines. Every service has to have their own colors and that is why everything looks ludicrous. Go back to the days when all the services had the same type of uniform and get rid of the ASU and bring back khakis. The uniform makes us look like bus drivers.

  • LIAM

    it never ceases to amaze me how the militaryuniforms can be so different. As an Air Foce Vet….I personally support EVERY ONE get the same uniform…..The Navy should adapt the Coast Guard unifform, simply…IT WORKS!!

  • SAM

    CO and first sergeant already puting out directive that nobody will wear OCP, until they decide the unit will wear OCP. I was wearing OCP at that formation, and still wear it, with a copy of the memo and IG on speed dial.

  • JohnD

    The biggest problem is that the army could have had the OCP ten years ago and not wasted all that money on that grey crap! Do not forget that all the other gear has to match colors! Tons of money wasted and now everything has match and they have to repurchase all those packs and pouches for a ton of limited monies! Now they want a new pistol which is stupid when they can upgrade at a savings! Get new HUMMVEE replacements when tons of MRAPS are rusting! The Brits now have battalions who use the MRAPS as prime vehicles! What an idea!

  • Snow

    Uniforms need to be uniform, or they become a rabble. It is a mark of professionalism. The Army started loosing it’s professionalism when it stopped spit shining boots. In the good ole days you could tell how professional a unit was by looking at their highly shined boots, starched and pressed uniforms with the jacket pockets sewed shut. No unsightly pocket bulges.

  • JohnD

    This happened with the change from fatigues to BDUs, and DCUs to UCP. Commanders, first sergeants and CSMs need to remember that everyone cannot afford the changes these generals dream up! They don’t care and worry about the eyewash! In most armies, uniforms are issued and only bought by soldiers when they are liable for,the loss.

  • joe

    The Army should just go back to All Green Fatigues, Nice highly pressed and starch for around the Garrison duty that looks sharp. Then issue out thru the supply Camouflage Uniforms to those who actually go to the field or deployment… I mean, what % of the Army really doesn’t need to have an expensive Camouflage uniform if they work in an Office, Supply, Maintenance bay, Hospital, School…over 50% or more? And the Combat load equipment due like the Marines and go with on Natural color (They use Coyote Brown I believe for their load bearing equipent). And use the Billions saved on all these Uniform Changes back into training or equipment upgrades.

    • amram

      All Green seems to work for the IDF!

  • Airborne_fister

    Anybody else having trouble with this new set up at kit up. Like it doesn’t load and when it does it’s only pictures or just a bunch of lines. I might stop reading here if after Christmas it’s not fixed.

  • Anstee USA Retired

    Dreaming up new uniforms keep many civilians employed and the politicians are heroes for keeping them employed.
    The hierarchy of the military has never figured out that the soldiers clothing allowance doesn’t come close to what is needed to purchase the new/replacement uniforms or do they care? We all know that the military isn’t the best paying job in the world. Every time new uniforms come out or they need to be replaced, that cost comes out of a soldiers budgets they use to support their families. “Sorry little Tommy I know you want to eat tonight but I have to buy new uniforms”. I remember the old thought of “if the military wanted you to have a family they would issue you one” but the reality is these costs effect members families also.
    In the word of Earl Pitts: Wake Up America