This photo, taken on Christmas Day 2013 depicts members of 3rd Battalion, 71st Calvary Regiment of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division as they move to secure the helicopter landing zone on Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. They are fully decked out in the latest clothing and equipment, developed by PEO Soldier, in the very effective Operational Camouflage Pattern, known commercially as MultiCam.
But it wasn’t that many years ago that our Army wasn’t so well equipped. I thought we should take a hop on the way back machine, to another Christmas Day. This time, it’s 2004 at Camp Taji, Iraq, where Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Peter Schoomaker was visiting the troops. Take a gander at the uniforms. Or should I point out, the lack of uniformity. That’s what our Army looked like, just 10 years ago. The Army we took to war in Iraq in 2003 was forced to mix ALICE Green, Woodland Body Armor and Desert Combat Uniforms. And I want to point out that this is a year-and-a-half into the operation and over three into the overall war. With all of that going on, camouflage is pretty much pointless; one pattern cancelling out the effectiveness of another. On the Army’s birthday, June 14, 2004, GEN Schoomaker unveiled the new Army Combat Uniform in the Universal Camouflage Pattern, which he alone wears. This photo depicts it all, mixed up, in one setting.
Here we are, 10 years later. If PEO Soldier has its way, the early lessons of this war will be forgotten and the Army will once again be forced to mix multiple patterns operationally. Their new plan to adopt a pixelated version of MultiCam, called Digital Transitional Pattern, will have to be mixed with over a Billion Dollars’ worth of Operational Camouflage Pattern (MultiCam) clothing and equipment along with the previously purchased $5 Billion in UCP kit. “Why?” you ask? Well, it’s apparently about cash. The Army doesn’t feel they can afford to pay to continue to purchase OCP gear so they are creating their own pattern. But if they’re that broke, there’s no way they’ll be able to afford to purchase full ensembles of clothing and equipment in this new DTP, let alone bookend patterns of MARPAT.
This is your future looks like; more a trip to the Salvation Army than the world’s greatest Army.