We’ve mentioned multiple times that the Army does not plan to make a major announcement about the upcoming transition to the newly renamed Operational Camouflage Pattern, first adopted for use in Afghanistan and known commercially as MultiCam. Developed by Crye Precision about 10 years ago, it has been used for years by US SOF and variants are in use worldwide with a variety of armed forces.
Instead of a public announcement, expect the transition to be implemented in two ways. First, the Army will cease the purchase of clothing and equipment in UCP. Second, in the coming months, the Army G1 will issue one or more ALARACT messages. These All Army Action messages hold the weight of orders from the Army staff and are used to direct implementation of various programs or policies.
Here’s what we’ve told you already regarding the change:
During AUSA we shared some info that was passed to industry by an Army acquisition official…
However, according to the information received by SSD, the Army will eventually make an official announcement and plans to begin fielding OCP to new accessions beginning in FY15 with uniforms for the rest of the force starting in FY16. According to the source, the reason for the delay is that the Army plans to tweak the colors in the pattern slightly. Interestingly, the source also claimed that the Army would have access to the woodland and arid environmental patterns as well.
When asked about the time gap until the new patterns are fielded and the requirement for the Army’s incumbent UCP, the source answered that analysis indicated that there were enough uniforms already in stock or on order to support the force except for some odd sizes based on current demand models.
We have also received verbal verification that the Army purchased a license for OCP from Crye Precision. This is a very important piece of information as it will help you understand what is going to happen.
During the unofficially abandoned Army Camouflage Improvement Effort, the Army announced a requirement for a family of patterns that included a Transitional pattern, Arid or Desert pattern, Woodland or Jungle pattern as well as a fourth optional pattern for Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment. However, the Army purchased a license for OCP from Crye, which is a Transitional pattern. In order to offer these new “Bookend” patterns for Woodland and Desert, the Army plans to tweak the colors themselves. Assuredly, they will use the information gleaned from the recently concluded camouflage mega-test to determine the most effective colorways for both patterns. This is a big win for the Army but not so much for the companies that participated in Phase IV.
There is no indication that the Army will “tweak” the colors of the current OCP for general purpose use. The colorway performed very well in combat in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) as well as in Phase IV testing. OCP will be the Principle camouflage pattern for the Army and it will be the pattern that Soldiers will wear day-to-day in garrison or combat. The bookend patterns will be will be integrated into CTA 50-900 and issued as needed. OCIE will be issued in the transitional OCP rather than the bookend patterns although it is not beyond the realm of possibility that select items will be made in those patterns. Additionally, certain units may be issued with OCIE in the bookend patterns.
In the US Army photo above, you can Chief of Staff of the Army GEN Ray Odierno. He is checking out the new Army Physical Fitness Uniform. But that’s not what we are interested here. Instead, check out the boots on the manikin in the background. Notice the two pair of boots? Well that has been one of the biggest questions posed to us over the past few months. Earlier this year industry was informed that a new boot color was coming along with the new camouflage pattern. While a final decision has not been made, the Army does not want to reinvent the wheel on this but rather adopt a color that already exists.
Accessory colors have come down to two options. First is Tan 499 which is currently used with OCP as an accessory color for many items. The other option is the very popular Coyote. It has been noted through significant testing during the initial push of OCP in 09-10 that Coyote is a bit dark for use with the Transitional OCP. Conversely, Tan 499 has proven to work very well with the current Transitional variant but there is concern over its use with the Woodland Bookend pattern as it may be too light. What’s more, there aren’t currently any Tan 499 boots available. Our money is on a Coyote boot. It’s just too easy. Raw materials are readily available and several vendors already manufacture boots in Coyote for the Marine Corps and Navy.
These are Tan 499 (left) and Coyote (right) color chips from ITW which we first shared in 2010 when the Army had just adopted OCP and wanted to let you know what was going on.
What about T-shirts and Belts? For that, our bet is Tan 499. Expect Desert Tan to be phased out during the transition to the general issue OCP. Do not however, hold your breath for any changes to the Army Combat Uniform other than color. They aren’t going to change the pocket layout or add or subtract anything. That will cost money and the Army is trying to do this as inexpensively as possible.
Be aware, any and all of this is subject to change. We will update you as we learn more.