Originally developed by Crye Associates for the US Army’s Objective Force Warrior Program, the Scorpion camouflage pattern could be considered the precursor to the popular MultiCam pattern. Earlier this month, Army officials chose to proceed with a transition to the Scorpion pattern via a “soft launch”. Guess it’s not so soft anymore.
I will point out, that although industry is hard at work preparing fabric to begin the process, the US Army leadership has yet to make an official announcement. I have posted this story in order to offer additional information after another website felt they couldn’t wait for an official announcement and posted that the Army had selected Scorpion.
Scorpion will replace the MultiCam pattern, currently fielded by the Army as the Operational Camouflage Pattern, making Scorpion the standard issue pattern of the Army, thereby completely replacing the unpopular Universal Camouflage Pattern, first adopted in 2004. The Army will continue to refer to the new Scorpion pattern as OCP. The patterns are very similar so the Army will continue to purchase MultiCam as OCP until the new supply chain for Scorpion is up and running.
This decision signifies the beginning of the end of a process that has taken four years and millions of Dollars in R&D to select a new camouflage pattern for the US Army. The Phase IV of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort that looked at four commercial families of patterns seems to have been abandoned in favor of a single pattern created is support of a S&T effort over 10 years ago. The Army still needs to look at so-called ‘bookend patterns’ for desert and woodland use.
UPDATED – Unfortunately, as the Army was still working on their strategic communication plan, the details most of you will seek are not yet available. For example, exact dates and timelines aren’t firm. I have heard that the Army is working with printers to get fabric rolling and plans to have gear on the shelf by next May with OCP in the clothing bag for new accessions by early FY2016. As it hasn’t been printed in any quantity in several years, industry is going to have to learn how to print it, despite lessons learned from printing MultiCam. Although very similar, Scorpion and MultiCam are different patterns. There’s going to be a learning curve here and we still don’t know if Army is going to restrict the pattern like MARPAT and AOR or make it open source like UCP. If it is restricted, you won’t see it for use in commercial gear. Additionally, although many Soldiers have been issued FR ACUs in OCP, there are currently no issue ACUs in OCP made of 50/50 NYCO which is the fabric for the Army garrison uniform. This makes authorization for wear problematic as the FR ACU is considered a combat uniform. Although, we may end up seeing some local commanders authorizing wear of issue FR ACUs in garrison and local training if the changeover timeline turns out to be too long. According to COL Robert Mortlock, PM SPIE at PEO Soldier, the full transition to the new pattern will take up to eight years considering the full wear out of OCIE. Naturally, clothing bag items will be much quicker.
As a sign that the Army is committed to this Course of Action, the recent deployment of elements of the 173rd Abn Bde to Estonia marks the first RFI issue in OCP for use outside of OEF. This is very significant.
I have heard from several Army sources that Scorpion is being referred to as “Scorpion MultiCam” by leadership. This is incorrect. They are two distinct, yet similar patterns. It is either Scorpion, or MultiCam, not both. In this case, the Army has chosen to proceed with Scorpion.
So far, USAF and SOCOM are sticking with MultiCam but at this point, Scorpion remains etherware. No fabric exists, aside from some random remnants found in storage, let alone finished goods. This may change once Scorpion is actually available.
Specifically, the new pattern is the W2 variant of Scorpion which is a ~2009 modification of the base pattern originally created for OFW. Around the same time, woodland and desert variants were also created but there is currently no indication that those will be considered for use as bookend patterns. Scorpion W2 will still receive a tweak or two to apply the latest IR technologies to the pattern.
I do have details on the upcoming bookend tests (woodland and desert) for Fall but I am going to keep those under wraps for now.