WL Gore & Assoc

US Army Conducts Bookend Camo Tests at Ft Polk

In addition to the new Operational Camouflage Pattern, the US Army has long envisioned a family of camouflage patterns with OCP serving as a general issue, transitional pattern, and special Woodland and Arid variants, color tuned for use in those environments, to support contingency operations via limited issue.

US Army Camo Bookend Tests

When we originally mentioned the planned bookend camouflage test in late May, we framed it as “analog vs digital” and it appears that our information was correct. SSD has obtained photos of testing being conducted at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

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The testing at Ft Polk, comprised of OCP (Scorpion W2), M81 Woodland and MARPAT Woodland, is naturally geared toward the woodland environment.

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While these photos only depict the MARPAT Woodland uniforms and the Soldiers are carrying UCP MOLLE and helmets, we do know that TA-50 has also been provided in the range of test patterns. You may also notice that the Soldiers in these photos are mixing it up, wearing Sand T-shirts and USMC issue Coyote (Olive Mojave) boots complete with Eagle Globe & Anchor marking. Interestingly, one Soldier has rolled his sleeves. At first it struck us odd that he had rolled his sleeves like a Marine until it dawned on us that currently serving Soldiers wouldn’t know how they would had done it in BDUs, as the Army no longer rolls its sleeves.

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While we don’t have any photos of the M81 Woodland or OCP uniforms, we did score a photo of an example of the Green PALS webbing that has been paired with the OCP MOLLE. We are still unsure what this might indicate.

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So far, we do no have any information on the Desert Bookend test which is said to feature OCP, 3-color Desert and MARPAT Desert.

102 Responses to “US Army Conducts Bookend Camo Tests at Ft Polk”

  1. Eddie says:

    Bookend scorpion patterns using existing color pallets ftwwwwww.. Never going to happen. :c

  2. James Coffey says:

    Did the US4CES family of camo by ADS noit already solve this issue?

    • Joe says:

      Doesn’t NSW already have bookend paterns with AOR1 and 2? Those patterns are gov owned arlready. All the work is done. Is it an Army/Navy thing?

      • SSD says:

        I am unsure why they aren’t testing AOR 1&2. They are certainly less controversial than the Marine patterns.

        • DSM says:

          Seems to me someone is trying to force the point.

        • fryer duck says:

          Well if we end up going with the marine patterns wouldn’t that be one step closer to the goal of getting back to a single family of patterns?

      • TexAg says:

        The AOR family certainly seems to perform better, and is more on the “end” of the “bookend” spectrum of things when compared to OCP. Having seen them in the field, I feel woodland Marpat and OCP are close enough and would perform kinda the same in woods. AOR2 is a Jungle pattern (a lot greener than woods)…which is an environment that OCP doesn’t cover as well.

  3. Doc_robalt says:

    So that green Molle webbing is not giving me a warm and fuzzy on how the OCIE is gonna turn out.

    • Stiggy says:

      Better than that nasty knock off MultiCam Natick cooked up and threw on IOTVs.

      • Mike says:

        Unfortunately I have to agree. I would rather see OCP webbing, but if that’s off the table this is far better than that crap.

        • SSD says:

          I don’t know that it is. These are test articles that were manufactured over the Summer, even before the Army made its announcement.

          • Doc_robalt says:

            I’d rather see tan499 or Coyote Brown than that OD Green it looks pretty bad

            • Greg says:

              Tan won’t go well with anything thats “woodland”. Thats kind of like putting green painted sprockets installed on a beige Abrams.

    • straps says:

      I bought some ESSTAC gear back in ’05 that had green webbing. Served me well on an OEF-P rotation. Would be absolutely hilarious for that kit to be totally compliant 10 years out.

      I thought they had already done the bureaucratic nut roll to specify Tan 499 as the bits n’ pieces color.

      If the cost of all this wheel-reinventing and footstep-retracing comes out to $12,000,001 (which it could, very easily), a bunch of PEO/PM-ICE need to go on trial for their pensions.

  4. Strike-Hold says:

    Its probably just a trick of the light, but it looks like there are 2 shades of green being used there for that webbing. The strip at the top of the photo looks the best though – for my money…

  5. Scubasteve says:

    During the camouflage meetings:

    “So what are we going to pick for the new camouflage bobby”
    “Uh.. uh.. why don’t we just keep OCP, scribble on it and call it OCP”
    “That’s good. That’s good. Not as good as the digital stuff but that’s good. but what are we going to do about the bookends?”
    “……..just use green webbing for jungle, and tan webbing for desert?”
    “you have got a gift my friend, don’t hide that in a bushel basket”

  6. bulldog76 says:

    camo improvement effort is now known as Operation Snafu for initial testing and for the choosing of the book end it is known as Operation Fubar (fucking up bookend per army regulations)

  7. xdarrows says:

    Thanks for the article, SSD! As usual, it’s great to have you providing such reporting.

    Unfortunately, seeing those images and putting it all into perspective with the overall Camouflage Improvement Effort only leads to the highly depressing conclusion that the Army well and truly failed to provide the right decision at the right time.

    Seeing TRU-SPEC “ACUs” in MultiCam Tropic and Arid and knowing that these could have been ours … that’s a real shame and truly is an indictment.

    • CAVstrong says:

      Was Multicam Tropic/Arid the patterns crye submitted for the Camo a improvement effort or did they offer something unique to te Army?

      • SSD says:

        Similar to the commercially available patterns but not exact. Slight colorway differences I am told.

  8. BAP45 says:

    So is the USMC finally loosening up on their pattern then? I remember that was part of the problem in the beginning, them not wanting to share with the other branches. Didn’t even like the navy issuing AOR1 because it was too similar.

    It is a shame that it look like we will end up with a hodgepodge instead of a true camo family.

    • BAP45 says:

      Also didn’t they already to a test of these two a while back and find that the marpat out performed the M81/DCU? I think hyperstealth had some figures posted.

    • SSD says:

      According to the Enyart Amendment to the 2014 NDAA, services may adopt patterns from another service without their consent.

      • BAP45 says:

        Ahhh I see. I’m sure they loved that, haha

      • mike says:

        In that case it would be cool to see them adopt AOR1 and AOR2 so it would be produced in numbers sufficient that I could get it for my customers currently authorized to wear it :/

        • Joe says:

          What customers who are authorized to wear BOTH AOR1 and AOR2 are having problems getting it? Sounds a little questionable to me…

  9. CAVstrong says:

    Question, what are the pros and cons of utilizing camo patterns that don’t share a common geometry.

    I mean what are the pros and cons of using Combing OCP with M81 Woodland and 3-Color Desert without sharing a comon geometry? Will the clash or will the produce a layered affect?

    Follow up question, will the Army be able to update or modify the BDU/DCU patterns to add “feathering” or OCP “spots”?

    • SSD says:

      There aren’t any pros to combining patterns with different geometries. Testing in Afghanistan indicated that clashing geometries and particularly colors such as combining solid colored PPE with camouflage uniforms actually increased detection.

      I do not believe that the Army could introduce new versions of Woodland and 3-Color Desert but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t try.

      The Army’s argument regarding OCP is akin to telling someone that you are selling them a Bentley. You show them photos, reference how well it performs but then take them outside to slide into their new Chrysler 300. It’s still a nice car but it’s not what they thought they were getting.

      • CAVstrong says:

        Additional Follow Up, what exactly is the Army’s Intent here. I understand that OCP will be “General Issue” and that the Duty Uniform will be in OCP….but…what exactly will be printed in the Bookend Patterns? Combat uniform (ACS, Combat Pants?), OCIE, Kit?

        Also how beneficial is having the base layer uniform printed in a specific bookend pattern when everything else is OCP?

        Again SSD great coverage, this is exactly why I check this site 150 times a day…..I’m just trying to wrap my head around the Army’s thoght process…

        • Riceball says:

          As I recall OCP/Multicam works reasonably well on PPE when combined with more environment specific patterns. As part of the CIE the Army had called for a transitional pattern for all OCIE to be printed in so that they wouldn’t have to have stuff printed up specifically for (what are now) the bookend patterns. Naturally it doesn’t perform as well as having matching patterns on your OCIE but it works well enough and better than a solid color I believe,

          • SSD says:

            One of the factors tested in Phase IV was how well the various vendor patterns worked with OCP.

      • CAVstrong says:

        Last thing, can you clarify the NDAA Enyart Amendment. Despite your excellent coverage I am still a little unclear on how that all effects this….

        Basically as I understand it, the services are forbidden to adopt any pattern that was in service prior to 2010. The Army modified the original Scoprion Pattern Prior to 2010 resulting in the W2 variant which has allowed them to adopt this as OCP.

        Any modification of a pattern after 2010….even if it is to simply change the colors used in the pattern, would be considered a new pattern.

        Which is why the Army can’t simply Recolor UCP with OCP colors and adpot MARPAT Bookends with matching geometry. Or why the Army can’t simply recolor OCP for specific enviromnemts…..

        • SSD says:

          The Army claims that they have “congressional approval” but they are playing this very fast and loose.

          They are using exemption c.(6) which gives an exemption from:
          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.

          The problem is that Scorpion wasn’t being fielded but OCP (MultiCam) was. Consequently, the Army is calling Scorpion W2 OCP. I think the W2 stands for *wink, wink.

  10. Steven S says:

    Nice info SSD!

  11. AP says:

    Are we sure these aren’t just Marines with Army packs?

    Nothing about them says “I’m in the Arm” and Ft Polk is a JRTC.

    • SSD says:

      Yes, we’re sure. Show me a Devil Dog that is going to wear a Sand T-shirt with his cammies and would be willing to walk around outside without a cover in front of Army guys.

    • DSM says:

      Have to admit it was my first thought as well. The supposition of “a Marine would never…” aside cuz I’ve seen troops from ALL services do some pretty retarded things. But I trust that before SSD posted it that it was indeed verified.

  12. straps says:

    Very kind of you to blur the faces of the test subjects. Poor bastards.

    What. A. Goatscrew.

  13. Mike D says:

    “Currently serving Soldiers wouldn’t know how they would had done it in BDUs, as the Army no longer rolls its sleeves”

    I find this interesting to note that SOME currently serving soldiers may remember rolling their BDU sleeves back in the day. The vast majority of soldiers may never have rolled their sleeves, but there are still some soldiers serving who have over 10 years of service in.

    • straps says:

      The last time I served in a command that authorized rolled sleeves was something like ’98/’99.

    • Ron Dignard says:

      What is interesting about the SSD comment about BDUs with rolled sleeves is that the Soldier pictured has his sleeves rolled on the outside whereas if memory serves me correctly, the Army had a rather unique way of rolling/tucking the sleeve up inside itself so that the bottom cuff of the sleeve was still visible.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0rng39rBcU

      • SSD says:

        You make it sound like it was so long ago.

      • DSM says:

        The rather unique way of rolling sleeves so if you were out and about and someone cranked it up to 11 you could give the cuff a little tug and be ready for formal dinners. The AF did it too. I even saw folks that would not only sew all their pockets down but would have the nice Korean lady at the PX cut the sleeve and sew the cuff back on short-sleeve style. Most of the bosses wore their adult onesies so they couldn’t tell you what was in regs or not.

    • SSD says:

      Fewer and fewer every day.

      • Terry B. says:

        And if you are really old you will remember that the Army rolled the sleeves just like the Marines still do before about 1983 when the BDU was first adopted.

        Rolling the sleeves “BDU style” was actually one of the dumbest decisions the Army ever made in my opinion.

        • 10thMountainMan says:

          I can think of some seriously dumber decisions say…….

          Taking the black beret from Ranger Regiment

          UCP

          MRAPs in Afghanistan.

          Anything a 2nd Lieutenant has said, ever.

          • Terry B. says:

            I should have been more specific.

            I was thinking dumbest as it relates to the wearing of a uniform.

            But you’re right. The black beret and UCP are certainly egregious uniform decisions as well.

            TLB

        • Greg says:

          Rolling Marine “Bone-head” style looks more silly, plus their a bitch to roll down again. I say keep them separate. That way people DO know the dif between Grunts and Devil Dogs.

      • cj says:

        I’ve got a set of bdu’s with sleeves still rolled hanging up in the closet, this many years later I’m not sure i’d remember right away how to do it properly…..damn….

  14. FHRITP says:

    Lets see how hard they screw this one up

  15. SGT Rock says:

    Wow. The never-ending debacle that is called the Army Camouflage Improvement Effort… will it ever end? BTW, thanks SSD for the continuing coverage and inside scoop.

  16. Matt says:

    Pushing the definition of “Full Retard” one administrative decision at a time.

  17. Strike-Hold says:

    I think we should just call it “Operation FUBAR” from now on. Or is that the new code-name for Gulf War 3?

  18. Nev says:

    It’s funny that you think think soldiers wouldn’t know how to roll sleeves nice to see how you guys think of you’re soldiers, (to thick to work out rolling up shirt selves yet good enough to fight for you)

    • SSD says:

      You don’t seem to understand that Soldiers are not allowed to roll up sleeves by regulation. In fact, they haven’t been allowed for many years. It’s an inside joke. You obviously, are not on the inside.

      • Nev says:

        They tried the whole don’t roll you’re sleeves up when they brought out our new PCS uniform but the top corridor soon realised that it was a) annoying b) to warm in hotter climates and c) looked sh*t, and now they’re reversing the design back to the classic shirt

  19. Green says:

    How do we know these are actually the bookend tests? Could be JRTC OPFOR wearing woodland MARPAT. Seems like you would have some uniformity and the same pattern TA-50 for an actual bookend test, not coolers, chairs and sleeves rolled.

    • SSD says:

      You might just have a point since I am never right. Get in the line that doesn’t believe me.

    • Rowan11b says:

      1- 509th wears green truspec ACU’s and BDU’s
      2- 509th doesn’t roll sleeves
      3- 509th uses Alice packs and tactical tailor MAVs in OD green
      4- soldiers bring coolers and chairs in to the field all the time

      This is 4/10, believe me. Personally I wouldn’t expect much uniformity in Ta-50, look at the mixing of DCU and woodland early in OIF, and the mixing of both with UCP from about 2005-2007.

    • Steve says:

      That could be because participating in a camouflage trials for the Army must be like being forced into dynamite fishing: you’re making a mess and ruining the fishing for everyone else for years to come, but you can still have a good time doing it.

  20. Lcon says:

    Oh How I pray that some one will realize the stupidity repeal the Enyart Amendment, Pay Crey for stealing the rights and get something that makes sense.

  21. jonnyb says:

    As a Marine, I can’t help but sit back and shake my head. At least the Navy made a decision. Kind of. But blue is like, everyone’s favorite color, right? And the Air Force looks super retro with the tiger stripe, so that’s pretty cool. Does anyone else think this got way more complicated than it had to be? Oh, everyone? Right-o. Back to my MARPAT and whiskey.

  22. oscar d says:

    Typing out loud here. If geometry is an issue, why not revive the old ERDL lowland pattern as the woodland bookend. Hell, it looks like the MULTICAM tropic variant anyway. It’s developed and owned by the Army was fielded in Vietnam and the early 80’s. As for the Dessert bookened, I’m at a loss for the moment.

    • Really?! says:

      ^^^^^^^ …What he said… ^^^^^^^

    • joe says:

      I had this in mind myself, as a theory. The scale of ERDL would fit much better with OCP than 60% bigger M81. If anyone has an ERDL top and a Multicam chest rig/IOTV a pic would be helpful.

      • CAVstrong says:

        ERDL — unfortunately haven’t seen anything with ERDL. However I have found some airsoft photos of Multicam/Woodland and 3 Color Desert. Silly perhaps but it helps me envision what the bookend might look like.

  23. DBACK020 says:

    So, they’re not using different variations of the scorpion pattern? Like a darker green scheme and more tan scheme? Instead it’s back to the drawing board of digital vs analog again?

    Kinda seems like one step forward (ya garrison) and two steps back (actual operation use)….go Army.

    • Really?! says:

      DBack,
      In light of the fact that Army leaders ran themselves out of time (i.e., failing to choose a camo competition winner before the NDAA went into effect), which option would you say is best? In other words… Now that the Army’s hands are tied by congress, which bookend pattern should we choose? Keep in mind that there are strict rules limiting the options.

      • SSD says:

        There’s no good answer. They really screwed the pooch.

        • Really?! says:

          Since I asked the question, here is what I think…

          On numerous occasions, while training the Iraqi Army, I noticed something interesting. Every time we took these guys out, their “chocolate chip” desert camo proved to be effective. On several occasions, the IA looked confused during “lift and shift” drills or whatever maneuver they were executing. If you loose sight of your own guys, the stuff works. In my experience, good old chocolate chip is the best concealment option for rocky/open desert terrain.

          Although I have only been to the jungle a few times (in BDUs), I would have to say that ERDL is the best for Jungle/Deep Woodland environment. BDUs are not that great in the Jungle.

          ERDL beats BDUs in several ways: the shapes are smaller; light green is way better than light tan (a color I do not recall seeing in the tropics); the percentages of black, brown, and dark green are even enough that no one color drowns out the others.

          Of course, the latest version of Gee-wizmo-flage is better, but those choices are not on the table. So, these are my picks.

          • DBACK020 says:

            So chocolate chip and old school ERDL? Yet another sign that the camo adventure was pointless? But then again, learn from mistakes and advance forward. I guess we will see if the Army does indeed take a step towards the right directions. As long as it gets to the point where I can look around and not see my mates plain as day, I suppose any direction is a step towards the right direction.

          • Greg says:

            DBDU probably would’ve worked better in A-Stan, had it not been replaced with DCU nine years prior.

      • Explosive Hazard says:

        I’ll answer your question, AOR 1 and 2. They both work extremely well in their respective environments, even better than MARPAT.

        I suspect that this test is to determine if mixing ‘analog’ and ‘digital’ patterns results in reduced effectiveness. Or if having similar pattern geometry is crucial to its effectiveness. If it is determined that mixing OCP with a pixilated pattern has very little to no effect on performance than there is no reason they can’t adopt AOR 1 and 2. Or MARPAT variants.

        OR maybe the Army will end up using the bookends they submitted for Phase IV. Desert over brush and digital woodland (AOR 2?). Getting bookend versions of OCP akin to the arid and tropical versions of multicam is not going to happen. The choice is AOR or MARPAT in my eyes.

        • Really?! says:

          Hazard,
          You may be right. But, AOR 2 is every bit as light as OCP. The requirement (deep woods camo) calls for a darker range of colors.

          Additionally, AOR 1 and Desert MarPat are just about equal in performance (based on their very similar appearances). So, why not stick with the same set of patterns?

          This is probably why the two MarPats and M81/DCU are being tested.

      • DBACK020 says:

        Really!?,

        I completely forgot about the NDAA. Yeah, then we have no choice but to refer to MARPAT/AOR/or blast from the past. Wow….that’s really unfortunate.

  24. majrod says:

    Thanks for the info SSD

  25. balais says:

    patterns are a bunch of tech woo anyways

    OD green and Coyote uniforms should have been issued a while ago.

  26. Hardchawger says:

    Enough said from my basic training book

    Also, I think this will be a waste and nothing will come from it.

  27. Mac says:

    Sorry if I missed it but was AUSA a bust for camo talk?

  28. John says:

    Watch them say that testing showed there was not enough of an advantage to woodland or desert camo over just using scorpion so that is all we’re going to use. Soldiers will complain and we’ll go through this again, most likely it will be even worse considering all branches are required to go to the same set of camo in a couple years. That’s when things will get interesting. If the army decides to do this right, we’ll use OCP, M81 woodland and 3 color desert. It’s not worth Trying to use MARPAT because the Marines will most likely rather give up the pattern when we all go to the same camo than let all the other branches use it.