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If The Army Adopts OCP Will The Air Force Follow Suit?

At this point it has become glaringly obvious that the US Army is adopting the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern developed by Crye Presicion and known commercially as MultiCam. The question now is whether the other services follow their lead? Elements of USSOCOM were already wearing MultiCam when the Army adopted it for use in Afghanastan in 2009. The Air Force also jumped on the OCP bandwagon, issuing it to all OEF bound Airman. Additionally, ahead of their Army counterparts, USAF Battlefield Airman are wearing MultiCam during stateside training and in some cases as a garrison uniform. Already in DoD, MultiCam abounds.

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From the very beginning of the Camouflage Improvement Effort the Air Force has monitored the Army’s progress and unofficially signed on as a stake holder. While there has been no announcement from the Air Force (or the Army for that matter) on the future of their camoflauge program, we believe that they will adopt OCP shortly after the Army (and hopefully get rid of that abomination of a uniform in the process, the so-called AIrman Battle Uniform). The government source who informed soft goods manufacturers that the Army would slowly transition to OCP earlier this week at AUSA said as much. So that puts the Army, the Air Force, and the majority of USSOCOM in MultiCam, leaving our maritime forces as the odd man out. But will pending legislation for a common camouflage uniform be enough to persuade the Navy and Marine Corps to go along with the crowd?

44 Responses to “If The Army Adopts OCP Will The Air Force Follow Suit?”

  1. PbLead says:

    No. Navy won’t give up their blueberries because honestly, who wants to be seen while they tread water if they fall overboard or their ship sinks? And marines? Well, their stuff just works.

    • PbLead says:

      NVM, even with my military education coming from a Navy school (been over two years since then), I forgot that they turn orange. WOOPS!

      • Angry Misha says:

        PbLead,
        First off, the NWU Type I (“blueberries”) are actually meant to blend in with grease. Yes, that’s the truth. The Navy wanted a replacement for the Dungarees that would still look “clean”. So, a correct nickname would be “Greaseflage”. An NO they don’t turn “orange” when exposed to salt water. But because the NWU Type I is a “Working Uniform” they will most likely maintain it or amalgam of for personnel assigned aboard ship. However, Maintaining the NWU Type II (AOR 2) for their conventional guys won’t make fiscal sense.

        Now, to address the subject and other points of contention.

        Yes the Air Force will be adopting OCP. In fact, many career fields are already wearing it (TACP, PJ, etc, etc.). It is also apparent in the recent solicitation for the Defensor Fortis Load Carriage System where they call out OCP.

        In regards to the Marine Corps, if when asked in 2009 to share MARPAT they had agreed, we could’ve avoided this fiasco. But considering that the evaluated OCP patterns were superior to the “baseline” patterns of which MARPAT was one of, coupled with the congressional mandate for the services to adopt a common combat uniform, they can kiss MARPAT goodbye. The only exception would be if they redesigned it from Marine Corps Combat Uniform (MCCU) to Marine Corps Working Uniform (MCWU). However, this would require a change to the MCCU and FROG requirements. Now, I wouldn’t put it past the USMC to try and do this, however, like Peter said in The Family Guy: “It’s like sex with Kobe Bryant, kick and scream all you want, but it’s gonna happen”.

        Next USSOCOM, at this time, it is safe to say that 4/5th’s of the components under USSOCOM are already in OCP. Therefore, WARCOM (Navy Special Operations) will have to eventually accept that AOR-1 and AOR-2 will also be going away.

        Inasmuch, this is a good thing. For the most part, (until the SEALs had to have something different) SPEAR equipment we are issued was pretty standard across the board in regards to Form, Fit, Function and Color. Which, if you’ve been in this gun club long enough can recall was the standard. We all use to wear woodland BDU’s when stateside, rock ALICE gear etc. Obviously in the SOF community we had some nonstandard items in the realm of armor, comms, optics, LCE, etc. However, the camouflage pattern was the same.

        At the end of the day, it comes down to money, numbers and the congressional mandate. Ergo, 1 Million Soldiers and 4/5th’s of USSOCOM trumps 180,000 Marines and 2,500 SEALs.

        Mark my words; this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Next will be the standardization of Load Carriage Equipment, Personal Protective Equipment and Infantry Weapons across the conventional spectrum. And as with the case of the uniform this will come down to money and numbers.

        In my opinion, it would behoove the Marine Corps to initiating some serious guerilla marketing and politicking to showcase the merits of their individual armor and load bearing programs lest they have MOLLE and whatever other hair brained idea PEO Soldier comes up with shoved up their proverbial “4th Point of Contact”. Concerning individual weapons though, I don’t think the Marines will be able to defend the M-16A4 when the only argument they have is: “You can’t drill with it”.
        In regards to the barrel length argument, I’m sure that there is some Marine reading this who will argue the “The M-16A4’s longer barrel makes it more accurate”. Well my fellow Belleau Woodsman, you’re wrong. It actually comes down to physics. A bullet only needs to make one revolution before exiting a barrel to effect stabilization. Considering that the M-16A4 and M4 both have 1/7 twist barrels, they both provide for two revolutions of the projectile (2.85 for the M16-A4 and 2.07 for the M4), which is sufficient for projectile stabilization. Next is barrel harmonics or “whip”. Shorter barrels are stiffer and not as affected by this as longer barrels. This is why sniper rifles counter this by being heavier in diameter. Therefore, a shorter barrel will have less deviation of shot placement attributed to barrel whip. Now, I will concede that the only perk of a longer barrel is increased velocity attributed to more powder burn. Inasmuch, you are really splitting hairs with that argument as both systems still have sufficient velocity to delivery effective terminal ballistics on a “point target” at 500yds/457m. So, converting to a carbine akin to the profile of an M4 just makes sense.

        In the end, commonality makes not only fiscal sense but operational sense as well, i.e.; “One team, one fight”.

        • Sal says:

          The whole barrel length argument is moot anyway with rounds like SOST. Really the only advantage barrel length has currently is sight radius.

        • Bman says:

          Good points but I recall the bills on camo stating that Branches cant adopt a new pattern which is just the loophole that will allow USSOCOM to continue using whatever it wants. Since they footed the bill on AOR’s development and lots uniforms and gear are already printed, I can certainly see it being used as some units see fit. Same for even using MARPAT if they so choose. Hell, the Marines would love for pictures of that to get out for their publicity machine so I cant see them complaining about that. Very similar to rumors that the FBI offers to hands out raid jackets at high profile events to officers from other agencies in the name of “safety by easy recognition” when we all know its because they want the media to see FBI on something like white on rice.

        • Russ says:

          There is a tremendous difference regarding barrel length. The ballistic tables are widely available so take your pick. And it’s not just for accuracy although you don’t see M4 and variations taking the cup at Camp Perry. The experts claim that as the 5.56 goes sub sonic, it becomes a ballistic turd. With the M4, this happens before 200 meters. It’s an effective round for what Eugene designed it for; 0-300 meters with a 20 inch barrel. Not much to argue about.

          • Agent K says:

            I think your numbers are off as far as the 5.56 going subsonic at 200m. I know m855 goes subsonic at about 750m depending on conditions.

  2. Cap'n Drew says:

    Gosh, I sure hope so. In a perfect world, the AF would sign on with the actual winner of the competition, but OCP is about a bajillion times better than what we got right now.

  3. bloke_from_ohio says:

    One can only hope… And I can only hope they make their choice before I have to buy new ABUs. For a poorly excicuted uniform, they sure are not cheap.

  4. EODDoogie says:

    Probably not, the E-9′s will gnash thier teeth and wail that the Air Force enlisted must blindly and stupidly retain the anitquated tradition of massive “look at me I’m important” stripes on their sleeves. They will throw in some buzzwords about detrimental to enlisted moral, heritage, tradition, losing service identity, budget etc.. and we will get a fucked up chop-modded abomination or no change at all.

    • Philip says:

      This sounds like the most probable option… which sucks because I hate wearing these mold-colored sage green fairy boots.

    • Evan says:

      Putting rank on the chest is something I certainly hope they don’t do. It’s one of the only things the air force has continued to do right with it’s utility uniforms. Chevrons belong on sleeves – just like George Washington prescribed. Plus, just because they switch camo patterns doesn’t mean they have to switch uniforms, and there’s nothing preventing chevrons going on the sleeves of ACU’s. If they are truly concerned about rank size and decreasing patches, they can just go back to 2.5″ rank on a single sleeve such as worn on utility uniforms in the first half of the 20th century. NCO’s wore stripes on the right and junior enlisted on the left.

      • Philip says:

        I think it’d be more cost-effective to have the cut of the uniform standardized across branches. As that pertains to the AF, officers could continue wearing rank on their covers to distinguish them from enlisted members.

        Plus, all the other branches have abandoned the practice of forearm chevrons — us continuing it makes us look behind the times.

      • DanW says:

        I’d rather buy one or two square rank patches than have to pay $15 a uniform every time I rank up. We’ll still have the sleeve ranks on our dress uniforms, which is where any tradition belongs.

        • MattD says:

          My God man, where are you getting your chevrons sew on? The seamstress must be wearing a skimask when you visit her because she’s robbing you blind. We have a place right outside the gate of our base…. $2/patch.

          • DanW says:

            The BX at Keesler. The cost of the stripes + alterations worked out to around $15 per blouse. A $3 or $4 patch would be much appreciated.

            • MattD says:

              $7.50 per sleeve…. Ouch. Ironically, I’ll be at Keelser in 4 days. I wont be visiting the alterations shop at the BX there, that’s for sure. :-)

    • bloke_from_ohio says:

      ACU cut unitforms have velcro on the arms. You could sew checvrons to velcro backing. BOOM stripes on the arm! You may have to scale the stripes a bit for Cheifs, but that is not that hard.

      I will take my IDEA program check now…

      • MattD says:

        Incase you werent aware…. LOL>

        As of 30 Jun 2013, the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness (IDEA) program is suspended. You can find more info on the Portal.

  5. InitialSuccess says:

    I want this to be true. Right now we (AF EOD) justify wearing DriFire FR uniforms in OCP only because of the PPE angle, which limits its use to training, ranges, and calls.
    One point I’m curious about is how this would affect kit, as I already see STS folks with gear in OCP, but most of our template gear in BAMS is in coyote.
    Appreciate the reporting SSD.

  6. DanW says:

    I certainly hope so. I’m holding off on buying new boots until I know whether it’d be better to get them in tan or green. And an upcoming deployment will get me the OCP’s themselves.

    I just hope we can still roll our sleeves when the switch comes.

  7. cimg says:

    And to think we just got the light weight ABUs, (although still hard to find in certain areas). Defensor Fortis is still buying the matching ABU webgear, pouches, packs, etc.

    Not only is big army wasting money everyday delaying this, so does the USAF. If you think Army takes a long time to decide, just wait (and wait…) to see how long USAF takes to decide.

    Funny thing is unclesamsretailoutlet is clearancing out the ABU,ACU pouches and packs, while on the other hand gov still buying it.

  8. Stryker Magnum says:

    “But will pending legislation for a common camouflage uniform be enough to persuade the Navy and Marine Corps to go along with the crowd?”

    In a word, “No”. The USMC will start working for the Mexican drug cartels before they let anyone tell them what cammies to wear. They have the best PR and marketing capability in military history. They own politicians. I would bet my left nut they are working on this right now.

    • Angry Misha says:

      Stryker Magnum, if I told you that the Marine Corps clothing team had mistaken Guy Cramer’s “reports” for the official PEO findings, would you still be so eager to offer up your “left nut”?

  9. Bman says:

    Well it would be common sense for “sister services” to adopt the camo of the land branch that they work the most closely with at the bare minimum. Army/Air Force and Navy/Marines/Coast Guard. I know this doesn’t go over well with a couple of people here but to parrot my Grandfathers (one was Army Air Corps and the other was Air Force); splitting the Army Air Corps into the Air Force was a boneheaded move and made no sense at the time. I don’t think it makes sense now either. At least make it similar to the Marines relationship to the Navy where the Marines are not a “Department” with their own civilian leader. Perhaps it was needed back in the day of a very large military but the Military isn’t nearly as big as it was in the cold war years.

  10. vereceleritas says:

    Does the pending legislation mandate a common camo pattern or a common uniform? Even if the Marines were forced to use the pattern, they would want a different uniform design because they wouldn’t want all that velcro.

    While it’s an obvious choice (to me at least) for the Air Force and Navy to follow suit, is their a point of diminishing returns when comparing MARPAT to OCP? While the CIE winner tested better, MARPAT still is an effective pattern. Does it make fiscal sense to transition the entire USMC into new camo, PPE, and accessories for what might be a marginal improvement?

    • Cap'n Drew says:

      From the House bill, SEC. 351. REQUIREMENT TO ESTABLISH POLICY ON JOINT COMBAT UNIFORMS: “It is the policy of the United States that by not later than October 1, 2018, the Secretary of Defense shall require all military services to use a joint combat camouflage uniform, including color and pattern variants designed for specific combat environments.”

      • Timmay says:

        So if the pockets are all in the same places and you can argue your pattern is a “variant” for the “specific combat environment” you would be compliant???

      • Glen says:

        That is a House bill, not law…yet.

  11. DeepStitch says:

    “Already in DoD, MultiCam abounds.” I disagree, but this would be a great question for the DLA Clothing & Textile folks. While a lot of multicam FRACUs have been issued in the last three years, the only multicam DLA is buying is FRACUs for Afghanistan bound forces. Not sure what they are wearing in Kuwait or Horn of Africa. For the last year all FRACUs procured by DLA have been in MultiCam, but they are only buying sufficient quantities to outfit Afghanistan bound forces. For example, in Oct they were only scheduled to take delivery of about 34,000 multicam FRACUs. Considering they are paying the manufacturer for 2nd Day air shipment of selected sizes indicates that their inventory is very slim.

  12. Angry Misha says:

    Okay,
    There were quite a few good questions and opinions, though slightly misinformed due to lack of knowledge on the subject. Allow me to address them from a point of authority imparted by firsthand knowledge and not arrogance. And admittedly I have “SWAG’d” something’s and abbreviated some processes.

    Regarding the Common Combat Uniform Bill “SOCOM Loophole”, its intent is to allow USSOCOM to maintain the “edge”. However, USSOCOM, like all DoD components has a “budget”. One would be remiss to not acknowledge the fact that its baseline is larger than like conventional components; however, it would also be foolish to not admit that it has been bolstered by Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Well, OCO is drying up.

    Now, “OCO” is what allowed WARCOM to divert other funding to “develop” AOR-1 & 2. And let’s be honest, there wasn’t that much development due to the fact that the USMC pattern was already established. In addition, it should be noted that the USMC already had a leg up due to CADPAT etc. At the end of the day it all comes down to funding. Now, when USSOCOM is going to submit their POM for the FYDP they are taking into consideration the operational needs to support (and these numbers are approximate; e.g. “SWAG” and I am only including “Shooters” while also omitting “Tier 1”), 7,000 USASFC Personnel (18 series and SOT-A), 800 AFSOC Personnel (CCT, PJ, SOW & TACP), 2,500 SEALs, 850 MARSOC CSO’s, and 2,000 Rangers.

    Now that we have the “numbers” we can see that out of approximately 11,350 “shooters”, NINE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED or EIGHTY SIX PERCENT of them are already in or transitioning to OCP.

    So, now, let’s start our USSOCOM “budget drill”. Recognizing that we have a limited pool of money, and that our “components” come from “Parent Commands” (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines), we try to take up some of the slack by requiring that if the parent command fields a “service common item” (think “CIF” issue) that meets the requirement, they must provide it to the respective component. So, we go up to the “hill” to defend our POM for the FYDP, do you think that you’re going to defend funding for 14% of your force in the realm of a particular pattern? Pffft.. “have fun storming the castle”.

    But hey, all is not lost! After all, WARCOM gets funding from the big Navy as well, so there’s hope that the SEALs can hold onto AOR 1 & 2… right? Well, that depends on what they’re willing to give up.

    Now, let’s do our “WARCOM” budget drill!

    Well, the bad news has come in and USSOCOM won’t continue funding of AOR 1 & 2 uniforms or gear due to the transition to OCP. WARCOM look’s at it’s budget and realizes that if they want to maintain these items they will need to identify it as a “shortfall”. Now, this is where it gets really good. They appeal the shortfall to the Secretary of the Navy who in turn goes to USSOCOM, gives them the “WTFO?” who then tells the SECNAV that they’ve transitioned to OCP for not only fiscal reasons but because it is superior to AOR 1&2 and then … “Deep Breath”… the SECNAV tells WARCOM to pound sand or give up something to fund it. End state; AOR goes Bye Bye.

    Buuuut wait! There’s still hope! WARCOM could at least keep the AOR uniforms because in reality, they are NWU type II and III thus “Service Common”! YAY!! Anchors away my friend, anchors away!!!

    Well hold on a cotton picking minute there son, ya forgot, I say ya forgot that whole congressional bill thing!,

    Damn the luck (and more numbers).
    So, here we go again budget crunching… sigh. The following are approximate force strengths and inclusive of active, guard and reserve.
    US Army: 1,104,491
    US Navy: 379,737
    US Air Force: 510,352
    US Marines: 180,000
    Total: 2,174,580
    Ok, so the war is winding down, Marines are going back to going on float, Soldiers are returning to doing Soldier things, Navy guys are writing coming out novels and the Air Force is in self-denial that they days of manned fighter planes is coming to an end.
    But the DoD still has to budget for its force! And with the elimination of “OCO” that means there’s gonna be some hard decisions. And those decisions will cut into the things which for better lack of term are not “competing interests” or “Major Programs”. So, where do they find the money? Well, first off they’ll downsize, next they’ll scrutinize all the “little things” like “Uniforms”.
    So fast forward, the US Army and US Air Force adopt OCP. That’s roughly 66% of the DoD. Now they Navy looks at this and thinks; “Hmmm I only really have a couple of guys that need actual camouflage, and this new uniform is cheaper”. So in one flail swoop, AOR Type II and III are replaced with OCP and the SEAL’s hope to maintain it as a “Service Common” uniform are dashed as well (cue the violins)
    Now, the OCP infection has spread to NINETY PERCENT of the DoD, leaving only the Marine Corps to dig in for the fight (cue the “Jaws” theme).

    The first probing attacks will come at the annual CSWEB. Where the Marines will deny that the new uniform is superior.
    Next will come the date of the congressional mandate. The Marines will froth at the mouth seething in anger beating their chests screaming about Chesty Puller, 1775 and the Chosin Reservoir.
    But it won’t stop, because the bill will become law
    Now, the Marines have realized that “S#!T just got real, and they will attempt to bargain with the powers that be by suggesting that they’ll adopt the cut and even look into common “gray goods” to print their pattern on.
    But finally, though their effort was gallant, they will have to accept their fate and succumb to the arms of OCP just as they did with woodland in 1981.

    • bman says:

      Very well said. Written so well I would almost assume you had practice writing one of those novels you mentioned above. ha ha jk.

      • Angry Misha says:

        Bman,
        It’s the “Truth” and inasmuch, you can deny it, rage against it, barter with it or cry about it. But at the end of the day (as illustrated by the lack of cognizant rebuttals), you must accept it and move forward.

        Mark my words, somewhere there’s a Marine, Sailor or civilian assigned to MARCORSYSCOM, WARCOM or NAVSEA who is labeling what I’m saying as “blasphemy” and telling themselves it’ll never happen. But deep down inside, they KNOW it will. And I can’t wait, merely for the selfish satisfaction of saying: “I told you so” oh and then I’ll laugh and laugh and laugh

        • bman says:

          Hey I was trying to make a joke. I think you wrote a very good prediction.

          • Angry Misha says:

            I know, I’m sorry if my angst towards the non believers somehow spilled over onto you, young padawan lol

    • funny looking spud says:

      You should work at USASOC G-8 and put that logic into all the programs that have been mishandled and over spent the last 5-10 years. It will be great to see them come to the table for once not asking the other components to bail them out of debt again.

      As far as what camoflauge pattern is better than the other…I think they all have merrit depending on the environment the operator is working in. The AOR 1&2 patterns are the baseline for the Army’s camo improvement effort. Read just about any of Guy Crammer’s articles on camo and he compares all of the finalests to the AOR patterns. Which one is better? Show me the numbers, not speculation.

      At the end of the day, who cares what pattern is being worn as long as it gives operators the tactical advantage on the battle field.

      • Angry Misha says:

        Funny Looking Spud,
        USSOCOM and PEOSOF have had some growing pains, but I believe that they’ve been pretty efficient in answering the need for “SOF Unique” equipment and have instituted a “Technology Transfer” initiative. This initiative is why the conventional forces have all the whiz bang gadgets on their weapons, ACH’s, Combat Uniforms, improved cold weather gear, optics, comm etc. As of late, we have seen the replacement of what were once “SOF Unique” items at units with “Service Common” items because thanks to SOF they are now “Common Items”.
        So in a roundabout way, I don’t see your point that USASOC is coming to the big army “hat in hand” per se. If it wasn’t for USASOC’s involvement with USSOCOM, the conventional forces would be light years behind. USSOCOM footed the bill for the development of the conventional force’s new “toys”. So, basically the conventional forces benefited from the investment SOF has made without having to initiate many programs from the ground up.
        Now, if you’re referring to USASOC identifying funding shortfalls in the realm of MILPERS, MILCON and Non SOF Unique equipment (i.e. MOLLE LCE for support personnel, vehicles etc.) as well as items that are now “Service Common” (i.e. M4’s, Illuminators, M110’s etc.), well, I hate to break it to you, but the parent commands (in the case of USASOC, the BIG Army) have agreed to support these units in this manner. Maybe you could be a little more, “specific”?

  13. dan says:

    Well since the Air Force insisted on the Tiger stripe, they’d probably go with a setup like this:
    http://tigerstripeproducts.com/products/all-terrain-tiger/
    Thus allowing them to continue with the separate uniform pattern that matches with the Army’s from a distance.

  14. Rob says:

    It only makes sense that we adopt the same uniforms…we support them for Pete’s sake.

  15. bman says:

    That all terrain tiger is pretty bad ass. The air force should have gone with that the first time and maybe others would have jumped on board.

  16. Mnky says:

    We’ve been wearing that pattern for dep/training years before the army adopted and coined it “OCP”. Not really news, but the garrison bit is new (past 2 1/2 yrs). That being said the AF would jump off a bridge if the Army did it first

  17. 32sbct says:

    The discussions surrounding the replacement camouflage pattern have been so informative and entertaining that I’ll miss them when its over. But….getting rid of UCP will make up for it.