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Joint Service Camo and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

I keep getting emails from readers with links to stories from other websites with these silly headlines about new legislation blocking the Army’s ability to field new camo. I thought that the best way to put this to bed is to share the actual language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 with you so I asked the folks at Rising Tide if they could provide a copy and they were more than happy to oblige. Read the section in question for yourself and then we’ll discuss.

CJCS visit to Afghanistan

SEC. 352. REVISED POLICY ON GROUND COMBAT AND CAMOUFLAGE UTILITY UNIFORMS.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT OF POLICY.—It is the policy of the United States that the Secretary of Defense shall eliminate the development and fielding of Armed Force specific combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms in order to adopt and field a common combat and camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for specific combat environments to be used by all members of the Armed Forces.

(b) PROHIBITION.—Except as provided in subsection

(c), after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of a military department may not adopt any new camouflage pattern design or uniform fabric for any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for use by an Armed Force, unless—
(1) the new design or fabric is a combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms that will be adopted by all Armed Forces;
(2) the Secretary adopts a uniform already in use by another Armed Force; or
(3) the Secretary of Defense grants an exception based on unique circumstances or operational requirements.

(c) EXCEPTIONS.—Nothing in subsection (b) shall be construed as—

(1) prohibiting the development of combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms for use by personnel assigned to or operating in support of the unified combatant command for special operations forces described in section 167 of title 10, United States Code;
(2) prohibiting engineering modifications to existing uniforms that improve the performance of combat and camouflage utility uniforms, including power harnessing or generating textiles, fire resistant fabrics, and anti-vector, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial treatments;
(3) prohibiting the Secretary of a military department from fielding ancillary uniform items, including headwear, footwear, body armor, and any other such items as determined by the Secretary;
(4) prohibiting the Secretary of a military department from issuing vehicle crew uniforms;
(5) prohibiting cosmetic service-specific uniform modifications to include insignia, pocket orientation, closure devices, inserts, and undergarments; or
(6) prohibiting the continued fielding or use of pre-existing service-specific or operation-specific combat uniforms as long as the uniforms continue to meet operational requirements.

(d) REGISTRATION REQUIRED.—The Secretary of a military department shall formally register with the Joint Clothing and Textiles Governance Board all uniforms in use by an Armed Force under the jurisdiction of the Secretary and all such uniforms planned for use by such an Armed Force.

(e) LIMITATION ON RESTRICTION.—The Secretary of a military department may not prevent the Secretary of another military department from authorizing the use of any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms.

(f) GUIDANCE REQUIRED.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall issue guidance to implement this section.

(2) CONTENT.—At a minimum, the guidance required by paragraph (1) shall require the Secretary of each of the military departments—
(A) in cooperation with the commanders of the combatant commands, including the unified combatant command for special operations forces, to establish, by not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, joint criteria for combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms, which shall be included in all new requirements documents for such uniforms;

(B) to continually work together to assess and develop new technologies that could be incorporated into future combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms to improve war fighter survivability;

(C) to ensure that new combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms meet the geographic and operational requirements of the commanders of the combatant commands; and

(D) to ensure that all new combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms achieve interoperability with all components of individual war fighter systems, including body armor, organizational clothing and individual equipment, and other individual protective systems.

(g) REPEAL OF POLICY.—Section 352 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111–84, 123 Stat. 2262; 10 U.S.C. 771 note) is repealed.

Now my comments-

The hope has been that Congress would step in to curb the US military’s number of camouflage patterns from what averages out to about two per service, to a more manageable total of three or less for everybody. I hope you aren’t as underwhelmed as I am with the legislation. Any teeth that the original Enyart Amendment had to bring about any real change, seem to have been yanked from this document.

Having said that, there are a couple of interesting bits. Such as…This section, which halts the Marine Corps’ restriction on sharing MARPAT:

(e) LIMITATION ON RESTRICTION.—The Secretary of a military department may not prevent the Secretary of another military department from authorizing the use of any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms.

But this section is the free pass that the USMC has been looking for to continue to use MARPAT as long as they want:

Nothing in subsection (b) shall be construed as—
(6) prohibiting the continued fielding or use of pre-existing service-specific or operation-specific combat uniforms as long as the uniforms continue to meet operational requirements.

My take is that this proposed law really does nothing to control the problem. It’s just another watered down version of the language from 2010 that it replaces. There are no deadlines to move to a common uniform or pattern as specified in Rep William Enyart’s (D-IL) (MG, USA NG, Ret) original amendment to the House version of the NDAA; no consequences to continuing on the current path. It’s status quo. Services can continue to use the patterns they already have and can utilize different pocket configurations and even different body armor. It’s the development of new patterns that is at issue and even this can be accomplished so long as it is done so under the banner of jointness. In fact, the language even encourages development of new patterns and technologies.

The real question is how this will affect the Army’s Camouflage Improvement Effort and the USMC’s developmental Transitional MARPAT (yes, you read that right). Not that it really matters. The Army has zero interest in announcing the results of the so-called Phase IV Camo Tests and instead is in the midst of a soft-transition to the Operational Camouflage Pattern (aka Crye Precision’s MultiCam), a currently issued pattern. And so far, no one knows what will come of work being accomplished by NRL on behalf of the Marine Corps.

If you want to know about all of the other defense programs, below is the entire 1105 page NDAA bill. It was recently passed by the House of Representatives and should clear the Senate today. The President is expected to sign it into law before Christmas.

2014 NDAA

Click on image to download .pdf

There’s also some guidance on protective equipment early on in the bill. It’s worth looking at.

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36 Responses to “Joint Service Camo and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014”

  1. Marcos says:

    I made a transitional/hybrid MARPAT in Photoshop a few years ago to see if it would work as a replacement for coyote PPE. it used colors from both desert and woodland MARPAT and looked like it would work well with both uniforms while helping to break up the solid silouette coyote PPE creates.

    Do you know if the transitional MARPAT is intended just for PPE or as a separate uniform?

    • griffin says:

      the solid color coyote ppe and the solid silhouette is actually the point if your going to get shot in by an enemy you probably want them to aim at your armor, at least that was the thinking behind it…

      • Angry Misha says:

        You’re kidding…. right???

        ohhhh I get it, “You read it on the internet”

        I mean, your logic makes TOTAL sense and is WAY more plausible than Coyote being the ONE color shared between woodland and desert MARPAT and that the original plan was to issue woodland and desert pouches to break up the silhouette of the armor lol.

        Please continue to grace us ignorant masses with your plethora of knowledge and benevolance lol

        • Paul says:

          Your assuming that these decisions are made by smart and informed people who understand the nature of the task at hand and not a bunch of POGs stateside using their “good ideas” to secure promotions. Dont put any nonsense like he suggested out of the realm of their possibility. ACUs alone stand as a testiment to that. Everything about them. I mean they actually thought people would keep mags in the lower pockets of ACUs and not just your ciggerette butts.

  2. MKEOD says:

    Outstanding. The important thing here is, the status quo has been maintained. Nobody gets their apple cart upset, nor are any sacred cows threatened. Tough decisions are avoided and needless duplication of effort can continue.

    Undoubtedly, such strong resolve from our political and military leadership is why the war in Afghanistan ended in a clear cut, decisive victory for the US.

    To paraphrase Sterling Archer, how are we even a superpower?

  3. Andrew K says:

    Keep Calm and Keep Camo

  4. 10thMountainMan says:

    SSD, Be sure to let us know when the MILPR/ALTRACT (Spelled right??) comes out. I intend to have a revel fire around all my UCP.

  5. Aaron says:

    So Phase IV is done. Developed. However, it doesn’t allow us to adopt anything new, as OCP was already in the inventory and fielded transitioning to that does not violate the NDAA. If by going with Crye the Army is somehow able to justify adopting the Arid and Woodland patterns as well by saying they were already in the inventory my only question would be: how do they pay Caleb Crye?

  6. Steven S says:

    Well that sucks. like you said, the bill seems like it will do pretty much nothing.

    “USMC’s developmental Transitional MARPAT”
    Oh snap, that’s interesting! Is there any more details about it you are willing to share SSD?

    Oh yeah, this is a question for Guy Cramer if he is lurking around here. You said something about MARPAT 2.0 awhile back and that they stop it to see what would come out of the Army’s CIE. Did they start it up again?

    • Angry Misha says:

      For the love of God, please don’t summon he who’s name should never be spoken for it will only result in the devolution of actual NEWS into a US4CES pitty party.

      • Steven S says:

        Look, I am asking for answers to a question that is somewhat related to this thread. It has nothing to do with US4CES. So if you have some sort of grudge against Guy Cramer and the US4CES pattern he designed than fine. I don’t care. Just spread your message somewhere else. Make your own Cramer Hater facebook page for all I care.

        What I am trying to point out is that you are doing exactly what you do not want to happen. “devolution of actual NEWS”

        So let’s just end this right now.

      • It Is What It Is... says:

        Angry Misha…

        Why are you so hellbent on pissing on Hyperstealth’s camo entry?

        I happen to see the logic and science behind US4CES pattern. In EVERY picture I’ve seen, that particular pattern appeared to blend better than ANY of the competing submissions.

        You clearly have something against US4CES pattern/Guy Cramer. Is it personal; or are you just a competitor?

  7. John says:

    Boy marines are guna be mad if they gotta share their camo

    • Angry Misha says:

      Yes the “Marines” (emphasis on the capital “M”) will defiantly lose their collective minds. In reality, this does nothing but delay the inevitable. Honestly, this is all BS and I blame the Corps for being brats about it. I know that at the onset, the Corps protected MARPAT due to a “Pride of Identity” issue. However, when they were asked again in 2009 it was to enhance the survivability of forces in combat. With that in mind, the fact that they denied it was shameful and in contrast of the values of the Corps. Honestly, I’ll be happy either way because it will be a lesson the Corps needs.

      One Team. One Fight.

  8. 32sbct says:

    There was a recent article in Army Times stating that changing the camouflage was not a priority at this time. I think they are really gun shy about making any kind of announcement at all. Maybe with the new budget being passed and the end of sequestration, furloughs, and government shut-downs, perhaps they will pull the trigger after the smoke clears. I sure hope so. Every time I put on UCP I cringe. Worse then that, my current uniforms are starting to get worn. The last thing I want to do is invest any more money in UCP. I know as soon as I buy a new uniform the announcement will come out the next day.

    • Mick says:

      That means we’re all waiting on you! The more money you spend on UCP stuff, the quicker we’ll transition.

      I think you need a new UCP assault pack.

      Red Arrow!
      First and Forward!
      1/128 Inf

    • 10thMountainMan says:

      Hey bro, I’m in the same position as you. I just got a couple pairs of UCP in presentable condition at the post thrift store. It took some digging to get matching top and bottoms in the correct size but I made it happen. Saved me a bundle. Check it out and you might get lucky.

  9. CAVStrong says:

    What exactly is MARPAT 2.0? A different coloration of the CADPAT Pattern or an entirely new pattern derived from CADPAT?

    Transitional MARPAT? Would that look something like UNICAM? Digitized Multicam? Or something different?

    • Steven S says:

      It took me 15 minutes but I finally found the post which Cramer talked about Gen II MARPAT/MARPAT 2.0.

      “Guy Cramer says:
      May 30, 2013 at 15:13
      I worked on the Gen II MARPAT for the USMC (a year prior to this Army Program), they are waiting to see what the Army does with the Phase IV program before they look at moving forward with Gen II or switching to what the Army selects (or keeping what they have). Gen II MARPAT looks different than US4CES but you would notice similarities in scale and texture. We had to look at all the problems with the original MARPAT and improve on all those features to make it as optimal as we could. Sorry, I cannot show you what Gen II MARPAT looks like.”

      For the most part, no one really knows what Transitional MARPAT looks like right now. It’s still in development according to SSD. I would assume it would look like either like a recolored version of CADPAT TW or some color variant of their new 2.0 pattern Cramer talked about (which he says it looks similar to US4CES).

      • CAVstrong says:

        Interesting. Maybe that the simplest solution adopt marpat gen 2 call
        It DEFPAT or something like that. We get an effective and unique camopattern and uniform for all us armed forces and we can focus our attention to more important problems.

        You could even adopt the CAGE Plate carrier with reversible plate bags as the standard issue body armor.

        I personally hate wearing UCP and I am all for a new camo family. Looking at the overall budget concerns and our shifting strategic focus and the lessons learned over the past ten years. I think we need to worry less about what brand we are wearing and more about how are we going to strategically organize our forces. What weapons and equipment should we be carrying. What skill sets do we need to retain and remain focused on and what can be shelved IOT be brought out when needed. The US military has been very good adapting to changing conflict and rising to unique challenges in the past. We’ve been bad at critically examining and integrating these new capabilities into a logical, coherent and efficient organization during the interim peacetime.

  10. steveb says:

    In section 352A, it states in effect the whole purpose of this legislation is to arrive at a common, joint combat uniform. So, anything contrary to that will NOT be funded, period. This is the true intent of the legislation. Put another way, I wouldn’t go buying a bunch of Multicam gear quite yet!

    • steveb says:

      That being said, I really think the OCIE/PPE pattern from each camo family will be the deciding factor on which one is selected, since so many expensive items will be made in it.

  11. Sal says:

    So does this breathe new life into Phase IV or will the Army continue to go with multicam?

    I’m assuming the latter but the Army brass have turned this into such a clusterfuck that who knows anymore.

  12. Ben says:

    And the Army wonders why people continue to buy
    Personal gear in OD and coyote tan, never any certainty when it comes to gear. UCP just needs to stop.

  13. Sstefan S. says:

    Have fun! I’m retired and wear what I want!

  14. megafred says:

    I love everything about u guys

  15. gannon says:

    so is everyone going to use MARPAT and just make minor modifications?or just use MARPAT and through their own emblem everywhere?i personally believe we should keep the identity of our branches known.have USA keep unniversal and ACU USAF keep multi/ABU USN keep the blueberries and Marines obviously keep MARPAT for themselves.

  16. Big Daddy says:

    It’s so simple why must the government/DOD make this so complex? Oh I forgot special interest and people with agendas.

    For the battlefield one uniform dependent on terrain. We now fight together, at one time different services rarely fought together. We had Airforce guys in HHQ to direct air support, they wore slightly different uniforms but not much different. There is much more integration now.

    One uniform for all fighting in the same area of operations. 4 types of uniform for the field, woodland, desert, jungle and artic. Each service can wear what they want in garrison or for dress. Maybe the jungle and woodland can be the same.

    Honestly I wonder, in real life, in real combat how much does camo help? To me a uniform in green or for desert sand or tan probably works better. I could pick out every soldier wearing camo, the black stuck out like a sore thumb. That was 30 years ago though, we had BDUs. The thing that worked best was breaking up the lines, the M16 stuck out too. A black stick….here I am. Yet with all the camo the services are still issuing black sticks.

    How many more billions of dollars will they waste? Ask one question and one question only, what is best for the soldier in combat. Yet that question seems to be lost in Washington politics/DOD. That is the real issue.

    • Kory S says:

      Black is a very important color in camouflage it is perceived as depth. But I do agree that all small arms should be a more subdued color.