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US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort – Don’t Hold Your Breath

Awhile back, I got word that the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable John McHugh was going to give the US Army a very welcome birthday present on June 14th, in the form of an announcement of the selection of a new family of camouflage patterns for our Soldiers. I now believe this is not the case.

The first thing that led me to believe that this was not going to actually happen was that the Army still has not notified the contenders of whether or not they were selected. The Army would have needed to do this by the beginning of June, at the very latest, to give the companies time to receive their technical outbriefs and lodge a protest if they felt that the selection was unfair. That didn’t happen. The Secretary still could have announced, but he may have ended up with egg on his face had a protest action been substantiated.

The second thing, or should I say things, that clued me in to the announcement being stalled once again, were sources. Reliable sources (plural) contacted me over the past week and told me that the Army was going to delay the announcement for new camouflage. Some said until next fiscal year, and others mentioned AUSA time frame (both in October).

Now some of you are going to say that the Army’s delay is due to the Enyart Amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act but that’s not it. In fact, the delay is in spite of it. If anything, it should have lit a fire under the Army. For those of you that were off planet last week, the Enyart Amendment was introduced as an amendment to HR 1960 by Rep William Enyart (D-IL) who happens to also be a Retired Major General and former State Adjutant General of the Illinois Army National Guard. In a nutshell, it requires all US military services to adopt a common camouflage uniform by 2018. At the time, I opposed the notion that Congress should tell the military how to dress. But if the Army has in fact, delayed the announcement of their selection and subsequent fielding, then I was wrong. It looks like the Army’s leadership is letting its troops down and Congress needs to step in and force them to reprioritize. The top priority should be the Soldier.

The reason I was given for the delay in announcement is laughable. Once again, this comes from sources (plural). I am told that the Army does not want to face negative perception by starting a new acquisition during sequestration. Seriously. That’s what I was told. Apparently, Congressional interest in camouflage isn’t enough. Apparently, negative press from the main stream media for issuing an ineffective camouflage pattern isn’t enough. Apparently, wasting money by continuing to purchase camouflage it will have to replace after the announcement isn’t enough. And apparently, disgruntled troops who have to deploy in the poorly named Universal Camouflage Pattern isn’t enough. Negative perception they’ve got. What the Army needs is some positive perception. And they aren’t going to get that by wasting money and continuing to place their most precious asset; the Soldier, at risk.

I ignored the recent media blitz by the main stream media because I knew that the Army was working to correct the problem and field a real solution. And, with a 14 June announcement, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Now it seems like that light of hope has been extinguished. The Army has acknowledged that UCP is ineffective. Yet, it will continue to purchase, field and use it for the foreseeable future. Last time I checked, inaction was not a course of action.

While the final decision and announcement sits with the Office of the Secretary of the Army, I’m not giving GEN Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army or SMA Raymond F. Chandler III a free pass. The Honorable Mr McHugh is a civilian political appointee. He just isn’t going to have the connection to the troops that they do, or the same moral imperative to do right by them. I know the CSA and SMA are good men and are the Army’s true leaders. They should show some leadership and get this taken care of. Morale is sinking. Showing some interest in the Soldier by fixing the uniform is a great way to show them that they matter. The Army uniform identifies a Soldier on multiple levels. It gives the Soldier his own connection to the Army and it displays who he is to everyone else. And, it can make a serious difference where it really matters. A proper camouflage will him more effective on the battlefield.

I realize that this decision is budget driven but there’s more to running an Army than dollar signs. Even then, this delay is pound foolish. The longer the Army delays, the more it buys what it doesn’t need.

I did try to reach the Secretary of the Army’s Public Affairs Office prior to writing this story and actually held off publishing it in the hopes that they would come through and return my calls. They didn’t. In what seems to be status quo for this Administration, regardless of department, the Secretary of the Army ignores requests for information, no matter who asks. I get it. If Congress can’t get subpoenaed documents and witnesses plead the 5th Amendment, why should I expect them to talk to me?

We all may wake up on Friday morning to Christmas in July. A day filled with unicorns and rainbows, and the announcement of a new family of effective camouflage patterns for the US Army. But then again, don’t hold your breath.

108 Responses to “US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort – Don’t Hold Your Breath”

  1. CapnTroy says:

    Paralysis of Analysis: A state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken.

    Sounds like it applies in this case…

  2. Doc Steel says:

    Damn and I was really looking forward to it being announce this weekend

  3. bulldog 76 says:

    oh well SNAFU

  4. Dan says:

    I see this way to often in the Army day to day…no decisions made, people will allow a window to close so they don’t have to decide a matter.

  5. LRSranger says:

    Doesn’t surprise me at all. When something makes sense the Army will shy away and explore less intelligent COAs. The past decade’s decisions in uniforms have collectively been embarrassing. The only thing any of them got right was Multicam for OEF. Oh well a few more months of BS is a drop in the bucket when compared to the past eight years.

  6. JSGlock34 says:

    All the more reason to just go with OCP and be done with it. It is already fielded by the Army and Air Force. Less stir than an adopting a completely new pattern and an improvement for the troops.

  7. Aaron says:

    Just when I was getting ready to place bets… Camo-blocked again.

  8. steven s says:

    I REALLY hope you are wrong!

  9. matt says:

    Other than changing DOD purchase orders and contract wording I dont see how this would cost any money in a time of sequestration.

    • Mick says:

      Agreed. But if the rationale SSD laid out is really the reason, it’s a fear-based argument. They’re worried about an inflammatory journalist saying “At a time of constricting budgets, the Army has elected to spend $X million dollars on new uniforms!”, and then neglecting to mention that the army would have spent that $X million on uniforms anyway, just in a different camo pattern.
      Which, admittedly, is something that some inflammatory journalists do.

      • SSD says:

        Some?

        • Strike-Hold! says:

          Mick nailed it.

          BOHICA!

          • Sgt B says:

            The Sequestration arguement goes deep. The idea that we can’t afford to fly aircraft or stay combat ready but we were able to go out and secure a new camo and purchase all the gear to replace the old stuff really won’t sit well with a lot of people. It’s counter-productive in my opinion.

            • SSD says:

              Your service has its own issues and how it spends its money is its business. The vast majority of Airmen could wear casual civies all day and it wouldn’t matter one bit. The Army is about Soldiers. Soldiers that close with and engage the enemy. They should be in proper clothing for that mission.

          • Mac says:

            Yet we’ll still be providing ACUs in UCP to new privates entering the Army….

      • Paralus says:

        Fear-based is right. Who knew big strong Army was so chicken? Dopey Generals should hire a PR consultant.

        They need to anticipate potential muckraking of inflammatory journalists by talking about the costs of delaying a decision because it would mean exposing more troops by continuing to field them in an ineffective camo uniform AND the cost of continuing to need to purchase said ineffective camo uniforms.

        Seriously, take the journalists into a forest, give them UCP uniforms and tell them to play hide-and-seek. They’ll see how stupid UCP is and realize how vulnerable our troops are.

        then tell them how fast uniforms wear out and that they need to be replaced regularly, this is just a new camo pattern.

  10. Mac says:

    Gee, wonder if they’ll still make the other uniform announcement….

  11. Aaron says:

    That was not me…but um, I feel the same way

  12. Max says:

    %^&*($#(*&^%!^&*())(*#&^%#$~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I really hope you’re wrong.

  13. Chris says:

    It’s a shame, it really is. Great article though, very professional.

  14. SteveB says:

    I keep hearing a song playing…’I got you babe’…must be Ground Hog Day!

    Really, this is passing from the laughable stage into the tragic.

  15. Mick says:

    Hmm… based on that logic, they won’t announce anything… no camo announcement, and no new PT uniform announcement, either.

    Argh. I’ve been wanting to spring for a new assault pack, but intended to buy it in the new transitional camo, whatever was selected. I sure as hell am not going to buy a UCP one… maybe just coyote tan?

    • Bill says:

      That’s what I did for all my gear when I was is, and deployed to Afghanistan using UCP. Everything I used, sans uniform, was coyote.

  16. ME says:

    SSD, you’re right. I wish I could expect the CJCS adn CSA to do the right thing, but in the current Administration the right thing only gets you thrown under the bus and forcibly retired.

    Instead, we do the political thing. I hope you’re wrong and we get a surprise.

  17. Max says:

    Just a thought: Maybe SSD is to blame for this sudden change of events.

    “This unscientific poll will remain open until Wed evening at 2359Z so that we can announce the winner on Thursday morning, just in case it might sway the Army’s decision.”

    Way to sway the Army’s decision, SSD. If a delay means Kryptek is picked after all (because it’s leading in the poll), then I’m okay with it. ;)

  18. CAP says:

    Yet another bullet point on the long list of failed aquisitions of new super equipment.

    Its 2013. What happened to all the Land Warrior clad, OICW wielding super-soldiers I was promised as a teenager?

    • Mick says:

      “All right, super soldiers! Get in line to draw your gear!
      Today, you’ll be issued your rifle based on a 60-year old design, your ineffective camouflage, and your radios, which are bigger, heavier and less capable than the iphone in your pocket!”

      “Don’t forget to pick up your 200 lb. case of batteries, either.”

      • CAP says:

        Right, because going with commercially available, more advanced, proven effective technology would make too much sense.

        • Matty says:

          If it makes sense you’re wrong.

          • CAP says:

            My point was that after wasting so much time and money on developing new gear, the army always seems to scrap everything at the last minute due to financial concerns. If they want better gear, there are readily available commercial products that can do a better job than most issued items. If they just bought off the shelf, there wouldn’t be as much of a need to waste our time and money trying to build better mousetraps. The list of failures from our broken aquisition process is disgusting.

      • I don’t miss carrying those batteries…

  19. Lev says:

    No matter. The winner will get leaked within days. Protests will be lodged and hue and cry will amount to nothing except a really long delay in the final decision….which will be a common pattern for all US forces, except for extremely well-heeled and tac-fashionable SOF who get what they want 99% percent of the time.

    • ME says:

      With this news, I wouldn’t be surprised if the winner is leaked by COB Friday. I think the only reason it hasn’t been fully leaked yet, was because it was supposed to be announced.

  20. Eric B says:

    Son of a bitch

  21. USMColddawg says:

    Sequestration??? They act like with a decision being announced; the uniform will be worn next week. What is wrong with announcing it now since the uniform will be issued in the next fiscal year anyway? People need to get on the SMA’s facebook page and request an answer. This is ridiculous. Oh, I bet they will announce the new PT uniform and ASU changes. https://www.facebook.com/SMAChandler?fref=ts

  22. Akos Horvatrh says:

    Eric with all those sources and hints of knowledge in previous articles, I am convinced you know the who the winer is. If they dont announce it on Friday (give them a chance to do right) why not just come out and let us know? Force them to move!

  23. USMColddawg says:

    Funny how this week’s Army Times has on its main page that the ACUs are now has cross hairs due to Congress decision.

    Scroll down to the bottom http://www.armytimes.com/

  24. BrettW says:

    Same as (or close to it) SCAR – Innovation followed by stagnation.

  25. Scubasteve says:

    Maybe… They’re going to make one big uber announcement: New PT uniforms, new combat camo, new dress uniforms, new rifles/carbines, new sidearms, and we’ll use Ospreys for combat transportation with F22 escorts.

    I feel like you’re about to tell me there’s no Santa Claus next. To quote some Blazing Saddles “I am depressed.”

  26. Mike B. says:

    I’ve made a big business order for the Kryptec Mandrak, and Highlander Camo patterns from Vertex. This has been delayed for months due to this decision. Now I will be getting my large order tomorrow. Strange??

    • B307 says:

      Thats probably because they didn’t get selected.

      • Pro Patria says:

        Doesn’t seem like a consperacy to me. Vertex’s website for the time i’ve been following it has said that the lizard camo will be shipped in June. And I have seen the pants available from other retailers before that.

        I was hedging on buying a set now since its the only one of the finaliests you can purchase now. Since we have no announcement, I’ve lost the urge to rush…..

  27. matt says:

    How about this for bad press. Balloon goes up today and we all deploy in ACUs again. Sounds familar…You dont go to war with the uniform you want you go with the one you have (which is a piece of crap).

    SSD with all the leaks out of Natick why was there never an investigation into who approved the ACUs?

    • HD says:

      It was the PEO Soldier himself at the time, BG Moran. He was given the ACU/ UCP pitch with no science to back it up.

      His response was something to the effect of “that looks futuristic and high tech. we’ll go with that!” then came the PEO Soldier media blitz. Several months went by and then someone said, ‘hey wait a minute, Natick’s got this great camo that they actually tested in environments with spectrum analyziers and stuff.”

      PEO, Big Army, et al – “yeah, we made the decision already, lets save face. (even though that stuff is better.”)

      Then the NCO at PEO Soldier who modeled all the ACU UCP in the press releases and had his face splashed all over Army Times retired and got a contractor job with the company running RFI fielding.

      Graft and corruption all around, everyone wins.

      Except for Soldiers.

      • SSD says:

        HD, that’s not true about that NCO. He serves as a civilian at PEO Soldier.

      • JBAR says:

        1. Who pitched the idea for those colors in the first place. I have a hazy bit of info about removing and chosing certain colors, and that was how it came about, it was based strictly on NIR performance and conducting mostly night raids. Or, did someone come up with the UCP colorization on some whim?
        2. How could ANYONE involved stand behind the colors as universal/standard issue? If it was just for IRAQ/urban fighting, that is one thing, but to call it UCP and issue it as standard is crazy. That is what puzzles me the most and causes me to get sucked into this issue. It is like a ghost walking around.
        3. It is like the Navy going off to do gunnery sea battles in bright target orange paint.

        • JohnnyB says:

          F**k it! If we go to blows with North Korea I’m dying my ACUs green just to make a point.

  28. Matt says:

    This is getting regoddamndiculous!

  29. Chris says:

    Awesome! I don’t need to buy new uniforms again. Saves me another $800-$1000.

  30. jb says:

    I can understand to a small extent as a tax payer. But as a Soldier it reenforces the notion of “How much is a Soldier’s life worth?”. This goes to show that in spite of the countless pats on the back and what have you, our Congressional leaders do not have the best interests of the US Soldier in mind.

    • SSD says:

      Why is Congress to blame?

      • Army Doc says:

        Because they caused sequester in the first place?

        Either way, SSD, if they won’t make the announcement on Friday will you? Obviously you can’t say what the army will do, but the results of the competition are long over due to be published.

  31. xbradtc says:

    If Congress does mandate that DoD will choose a common uniform across all the services, that pretty much means SecArmy has to wait for a consensus from ALL the services on which pattern to go with, otherwise, you DO run into the sequestration issue.

    What if Army decides to go with one pattern this year, but between now and 2018, all the services unite around a different pattern? That would be seen as terribly wasteful.

    • Mick says:

      Logic would dictate the Army says “Hey other branches, look at this huge test we did, look at all these comparison charts, look at this data. We recommend (winning choice).”

      Of course, again, we’re assuming that logic will drive the decision…

    • JohnnyB says:

      That is what makes contractors the most money, so… Yes! Probably so!

  32. SteveB says:

    Not only did UCP win, but ‘they’ plan to force all services (including SOF) to adopt it by 2018! The runner ups were the Naval Blueberry Digital and Air Farce Blue Tigerstripe.

  33. Philip says:

    Wouldn’t the money for this reserach and testing have been earmarked prior to the cuts taking place, since it’s been ongoing for some time?

    Sure, the funds to actually roll it out may not yet be available, but what would it hurt to at least let the Soldiers know what to expect?

  34. Eric B says:

    On a positive note, June 14 will bring the announcement of the new and improved PT belt, to the glee of Sergeants Major everywhere. To save funding, it will be in the UCP. That shit stands out better anyway!

  35. SteveB says:

    Seriously, if you look in the SSD camo archives, the GAO put out a report back in September 2012. It recommended a joint camouflage uniform for all services. So, this common uniform idea isn’t news at all…it’s at least 9 months old. I’m willing to bet that members from all services were in on the testing of the ‘final four’, knowing the winner would apply to all services, eventually. If they were not, the other services already have had plenty of time to be briefed on the results of the testing and make a joint decision within the framework of the September 2012 GAO report. What are they going to do, run the most extensive camo testing we’ve done all over again for each service? Now that would be a waste.

  36. JBAR says:

    They already have egg on their faces from the media. Letting it slip away would mean less publicity, possibly. It all depends on the media. But the Army could just come out and explain the reasons, including: getting everyone in the safest uniform asap; the actual cost is relatively small because it is only a one time sum for the right to print; the costs and the study already being conducted; the costs for replacement would be incurred anyway. they could ensure that UCPs are specified as the major issue and is a seperate from from adoption by all services, which would still use the pattern, as recently mandated, on the timeline specified.

  37. Stryker Magnum says:

    You guys should show up to formation on Friday morning in RealTree…..With your hands in your pockets.

    • HD says:

      Find me real tree in current uniform cut/ design, name tapes, and patrol cap – I’ll do it.

      When the CSM goes nuts, I’ll just tell him its part of the Army camo study field wear testing.

    • SSD says:

      SEALs?

  38. Lawrence says:

    A lot of people in the industry seem to know what the test results showed, and which pattern family the Army is going to select.

    But just like the wide-spread knowledge of the story behind the adoption of UCP, they’re being good servants and keeping Schtum.

    • BradKAF308 says:

      If all of those people talk it does nothing to get the kit to you, unfortunately. If they want the powers that be could write a new report and disprove the leaks. Lots of leaks.

  39. [...] So, Congress wants the services to all move to a “common” camo pattern.  Eh, I can think of other places to save money. I mean, sure the UCP pattern the Army has now is awful, and should be replaced. But the very idea of a universal pattern is flawed. So we’ll move to a joint pattern, and eventually, we’ll be operating someplace where it isn’t suitable, and we’ll end up having to buy more patterns. [...]

  40. Paralus says:

    Fire the Flag officers.

    Think of the savings that could be had by laying off a few hundred General Officer Weapons Systems and zeroing out their billets. Replace them with Colonels and voila! plenty of funds for uniforms and new carbines (if needed).

  41. Paul says:

    Why don’t we just call up the Chinese and ask them what the new Army camo pattern will be?

    I’m sure they were the first to know anyway….they already know all our other secrets.

  42. AirborneLTW says:

    Our top “Leaders” need to have some backbone or the NCO Corps is just…shit. NCOs train and lead Soldiers. SGM/CSM’s are senior enlisted advisors. Someone needs to start advising. I think it’s embarrassing when a brand new Private can point out the obvious and we have people with 30+ years in uniform that don’t have a clue.

  43. AirborneLTW says:

    01 February 2013: SMA on budget: ‘Priority to warfighters’

  44. bulldog76 says:

    hypersteath said theyll announce in OCT

  45. AirborneLTW says:

    Argentina, Chile, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Peru, Serbia and Tunisia all wear UCP camouflage. We stop production, sell existing stockpiles to these countries at a discount rate.

    Then we use our $400+ a year clothing allowance to buy the new camouflage. Obviously they will not give us the camouflage…so just authorize us to purchase it and set a wear-out date.

    Does this make sense? I’m honestly asking. Where do all these HUGE costs occur? I know PPE, but that stuff needs to be replaced from wear and tear anyway.

    • JohnnyB says:

      You’d better watch it! Making sense is not to popular with the powers that be.

  46. Don says:

    30 years from now our Soldiers will still be wearing UCP and firing an m16/m4 weapon chambered in 5.56

  47. majrod says:

    I’m not shocked or surprised.

    Look at Benghazi. Risk aversion, letting people hang and rationalizing it,

  48. Mitchell Fuller says:

    Somewhere over the rainbow.

  49. CPTJ says:

    So, SSD, since the Army is giving us the stiff one (…again), are you going to reveal the rumored winner that you have been hiding for weeks now?

  50. 10thmountainvet says:

    Heck yeah SSD, let’s put it out there! Who won? ADS or Crye?

    Crye has the contract with our UCP, British, and Australians. Plus, IF UCP is their transitional camo, it is already being made in the ACU.

    ADS has more of a military style, works better, and was developed as a proper camo family not a variant of Multicam. it’s also a big distrobution company that works with the military.

    Stick the ADS camo on the Marines uniform, minus the globe and anchor, bingo fills the federal government’s 2018 requirement. It’s also much more functional than the ACU crap!

    However, I won’t be surprised at anything the Army does. They recently admonished a Sergeant for reading Sean Hannity Books and eliminated the Fiancial Peace program that the chaplains brought to the Army due to it’s mentioning of tithing!

    Alas… I am indef.