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Archive for the ‘Camo’ Category

MAPA Camo Pattern Under Consideration For Polish Territorial Defence Forces

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

We’ve received a report that the MAPA camouflage pattern we shared back in 2012 is under consideration for adoption by Poland’s Territorial Defence Forces under project code name EICHENLAUB / “LI?? D?BU”. Developed by Mr. Maciej Dojlitko, MAPA (“map” in Polish), the pattern matches the terrain and vegetation of Poland.





DoD Plans To Save $72 Million On Afghan Uniforms By Spending $100 Million For New Ones

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Last week, the Honorable John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, testified before the House Armed Services Committee, concerning his organization's recent report on the Afghan National Army's proprietary camouflage pattern, licensed to Afghanistan by Canadian company Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corporation.  SIGAR maintains that the US government overspent on an untested and inappropriate camouflage pattern. Boy, does this story sound familiar. 

Of all the untold Billions of Dollars squandered on bad construction contracts and given away to Afghan warlords, SIGAR is fixated on what they have identified as $28 Million, they claim was overspent during a period of five years on camouflage uniforms for the Afghan National Army.  Furthermore, the SIGAR report, and Mr Sopko's testimony alleges that the situation will result in a further $72 Million in overspending over the next decade, if it's not changed.

The Department of Defense's  answer to the situation? Why, spend even more money of course. The plan is to direct the US Army's Natick Soldier Systems Center to conduct a camouflage study and completely recapitalize the entire ANA with new uniforms in a camouflage pattern owned by the US Army. SIGAR estimates that will save us about $72 million. While Mr Sopko has yet to disclose how much this scheme is going to actually cost, I did a back of the napkin estimate based on what was spent in the past. To replace their uniforms in a timely manner, will be excess of $100 Million; well in excess. When you do the math, that potential savings of $72 quickly becomes a $18 Million+ deficit.  Not to mention the disruption of the ANA, as a side effect. 

When this new camouflage pattern is finally pursued, no commercial patterns will be considered, lest the Army have to pay a royalty. The point here isn't to offer our Allies the best available camouflage, but rather the cheapest and no one is taking the interests of the Afghans into consideration in this unilateral action. Amazingly, the last time Natick conducted a camouflage study for Afghanistan, the US Army selected a commercially developed pattern developed by Crye Precision, called MultiCam, over the camouflage developed by Natick.

The Army later conducted a massive camouflage modernization effort under the direction of Natick. The results of the Phase IV Camouflage Improvement Effort have never been released to the public and the Army ultimately created and fielded an inferior version of Crye's MultiCam which they were already using, in order to save a buck or two. 

In addition to the known elements such as established supply chain costs associated with this action, there are Millions of Dollars in potential, additional costs to the American taxpayer and industry. For instance, we have no idea how much the Natick study will actually cost the taxpayer because the salaries of government employees and use of equipment and facilities are looked at as sunk costs by DoD rather than being properly tracked and accounted for. Furthermore, it will take time (and drive up costs) to develop a supply chain for a new pattern. Printers will have to "learn" how to print it.

Industry will also have surge to create a sufficient number of completely new camouflage uniforms to support the transition for the ANA.  This will result in an increased transportation burden costing an untold amount out of money.  Then there's the question of how much money was spent to conduct this investigation and produce this report.  It doesn't seem like the taxpayer is getting a lot of bang for its buck. 

Interestingly, Mr Sopko also informed the legislators that a criminal probe had been launched regarding the matter, which, short of evidence of malfeasance, begs the question, why? Considering the pallets of $100 bills handed off to fickle Afghan warlords over the past 16 years, we are going to criminally investigate something where we actually saw a return on investment? The ANA actually received uniforms which provides them a common identity as an element of Afghan national power. Additionally, the uniforms work at night, when the ANA operates, and are in a tightly controlled camouflage pattern which is difficult for the enemy to acquire.

If I were an acquisition or contracting officer who made things happen in spite of the plodding framework created by the DFAR at any point since the war began, I'd be very concerned about this precedent. Because, if they're going to take a look at the Afghan National Army's camouflage expenditure, they are bound to look at other fast-tracked acquisition programs. In fact, someone probably ought to take a hard look at what DoD was up to regarding uniforms, during the same period.

Lest I remind everyone, this is what our Soldiers were wearing during the same period the SIGAR report is concerned with. It's also a camouflage pattern that wasn't tested, and not only wasn't suitable for use in Afghanistan, but for anywhere else it turns out. What's more, it was developed by the same organization that SIGAR wants to developed the ANA's next pattern, Natick Soldier Systems Center. 

It gets worse. The US taxpayer spent untold Billions of Dollars on that US Army pattern. The Army admitted to $5 Billion expenditures in 2012, but they kept spending after that, and their number was based solely on program Dollars at DLA.  It's almost impossible to really capture how much was spent in local purchase, at the sister service level, and on UCP ancillary items for major end items.  The real number is closer to $10 Billion than five. If they want to launch a criminal investigation based on fraud, waste and abuse, UCP is a great place to start.

If SIGAR wanted to actually improve things for Afghanistan, they could make these recommendations:

1. Simplify and standardize the cut and construction of Afghan uniforms across the board.

2. Negotiate a better licensing fee with the owner of the ANA's camouflage.

3. Replace the Camo patterns of the other Afghan forces which are forced to continue to wear the same patterns as their enemies.

Points one and two would help bring down costs of the ANA uniform and point three would result in a safer and more effective Afghan security infrastructure.  

Mr Sopko's team at SIGAR has done some great work, but they need to do much better on this issue. Spending more money than is saved is not a win.  Instead, this is a big loss, both for the American taxpayer and our ally, Afghanistan.

MultiCam: Jamey Caldwell Team MultiCam Profile

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

This edition of the Team MultiCam video series centers around Army Special Operations Veteran Jamey Caldwell. After 21 years of decorated service, Jamey turned a lifelong passion into a career as a professional bass angler by applying his military mindset to the sport of fishing. Jamey’s dedication extends to his fundraising for the Warriors Heart treatment facility for service members struggling with addiction. Please donate to his GoFundMe page by clicking the link below. Thank you.

www.gofundme.com/JamTeamMC

ORSM 17 – Disruptive Shadow Technology by SLUMBERJACK

Friday, July 28th, 2017

There are currently for garments in the Slumberjack DST line; the waterproof breathable Windage Jacket and Pant, Incog Jacket made with Dridown and the insulated Grit Jacket.

www.slumberjack.com

Agilite -Raptor Helmet Cover

Friday, July 7th, 2017

The Raptor™ helmet cover has several unique features such as a goggles cover attachment system, a built in counterweight pouch and an accessory tether point.

The Raptor has two different optional goggles covers, the Visor™ and the Visor Nocturn™ (with NVG shroud access hole) that also serve as goggles cases when detached from the helmet.

The Visors stop tactical goggles from glinting in the sun as well as providing protection from dirt, dust and scratching; all while keeping them at arm’s reach.

The Raptor is available in Multicam and Ranger Green and comes in two different sizing systems for the Ops Core Ballistic XP and Ops Core Bump helmets respectively, as they have different geometry and sizing systems. The exact sizing ensures a perfect fit.

For a guide to how to size an Ops Core helmet cover correctly see the Isratactical blog article here.

The Raptor also comes in an ACH high-cut model and can be adapted to other helmet models and styles on request, subject to MOQ’s.

agilitegear.com

$28 Million Well Spent – A Critique Of The SIGAR Report On Afghanistan National Army Camouflage Uniforms

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Yesterday, the Office of Special Projects of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction issued a report entitled, “Afghan National Army: DOD may have spent up to 28 million more than needed to procure camouflage uniforms that may be inappropriate for the Afghan environment.” I fully encourage you to read the entire report. It is available for download here.

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It was assuredly written to persuade the reader that the United States Taxpayer had been bilked for over $28 million in excess charges for the purchase of camouflage uniforms for the Afghan National Army, which they also claim weren’t even appropriate for the environment. However, I think this was money well spent, and I’ll tell you why.

First off, the report was written from a 2017 perspective and fails to take into account the situation of 2007, when this whole affair began. For instance, in 2007 the war was in full swing. There was a sense of urgency. Additionally, even by the report’s admission, the fledgling ANA was clothed in a variety of uniform styles and colors. It was an Army made up of former Mujaheddin from a variety of tribes and factions. One of the quickest ways to integrate such a population into a cohesive force is to put them into a common uniform, and that’s precisely what the ANA did.

What’s more, in 2007 there weren’t companies solely focused on developing camouflage patterns, save one. That company is Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp and it is the company the Afghans chose to provide their camouflage. The powers that be, found Hyperstealth online, contacted them, and then chose a camouflage pattern. Their requirements were simple. They wanted to identify themselves and they wanted a distinct identity rather than wearing a uniform also worn by Coalition forces. Additionally, they wanted their pattern to be protected and not available to others, particularly their enemies. By choosing Hyperstealth’s SPEC4CE Forest digital camouflage pattern, they got everything they asked for. Interestingly, the SIGAR report doesn’t discuss that two other elements, the Afghanistan Partner Unit chose the Desert colored Ghostex Kilo-1 pattern and ANCOP chose Hyperstealth’s SPEC4CE Sierra pattern. It only mentions them in passing.

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While the report goes into a great deal of effort to inform the reader that the SPEC4CE Forest pattern was not evaluated, inferring that it doesn’t work in Afghanistan, the report offers no evidence to that conclusion aside from statistics about the percentage of forested areas in country. There’s no actual evidence provided that it doesn’t work. In fact, the report fails to acknowledge that the ANA operates quite a bit at night and the darker colors of the SPEC4CE Forest pattern work well in that environment. It also doesn’t disclose that as a developer of camouflage, Hyperstealth conducts inhouse evaluations of their patterns, rather leading the reader to believe that there is no science behind the pattern. But remember, Hyperstealth has outfitted a number of countries with distinct camouflage patterns and was even selected as a finalist in Phase IV of the US Army’s Camouflage Improvement Effort. No matter how you feel about them, they must be doing something right.

The US Army Soldier Systems Center at Natick, MA provided SIGAR some examples of different camouflage patterns they could have provided to the ANA, instead of adopting the commercially developed Hyperstealth pattern. You can see them here. Notice some are Woodland patterns, which SIGAR declares are inappropriate for Afghanistan. Others still are Urban and even Snow patterns.

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Ironically, the pattern the US Army was issuing to its Soldiers at the time this program was getting started (2007-2009) was the newly adopted Universal Camouflage Pattern. Like the ANA pattern, it too was issued to troops without any environmental testing. However, indications from American troops in the field were that its light green and grey coloration did not perform well in Afghanistan. The most powerful Army on the face of the earth didn’t conduct operational testing of its camouflage pattern prior to fielding it, and yet, in hindsight, we expect Afghanistan’s newly formed Army to have conducted such testing.

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When UCP was eventually replaced, it wasn’t with a pattern developed by Natick, but rather by another commercially developed pattern, Crye Precision’s MultiCam.

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Natick also offered the authors of the report costs and timeframes for various options to replace the ANA camouflage pattern with something new. However, they failed to disclose that their magnum opus, Phase IV of the Army Camouflage Improvement Effort, was never completed. Years on, we still have no idea how much money the Army spent on the project or its conclusions. For taxpayer and industry alike, it remains an utter failure. And yet, they want to take charge of fixing something that isn’t broken.

The report also raises the question of whether the purchase of the uniforms was legal under the Federal Acquisition Regulations, claiming that it violated sole source rules. Technically, the uniforms have never been ‘sole sourced’ because multiple manufacturers bid against one another to make them. However, if the argument is that the camouflage print required sole source justification, that’s quite simple. The pattern is the ANA pattern. That’s justification enough. We left the choice up to them. They chose and we agreed to buy their uniforms for them. It’s not like we haven’t paid a licensing fee for years as well, purchasing Clothing and Equipment in Crye Precision MultiCam.

In the report, much is made about wasted money due to the differences in price between ANA pattern uniforms in SPEC4CE Forest and Afghan National Police uniforms printed in M81 Woodland camouflage pattern. Amazingly, the cost differences between these two uniforms are highlighted, but the appropriateness of the ANA’s woodland coloration is critiqued while nothing is said of the ANP’s woodland pattern. Additionally, the report includes an interesting statement (footnote 28) which helps explain the stark difference in price. The ANA uniforms are in the Army Combat Uniform style, made from 50/50 NYCO while the ANP uniform is in the old Battle Dress Uniform cut from a PolyCotton blend. To begin with, the cost to assemble each of these two styles is different.

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It’s also important to note that the NYCO fabric for the ANA uniforms is Berry compliant, as are most of the uniforms themselves, which means they are made in the USA from US materials. That also means they are going to cost more than fabric or a uniform made overseas. That’s right. The money in question has been spent on American goods and to pay American workers. Granted, at various times, the ANA uniforms have been assembled in Afghanistan, but ALWAYS with American printed NYCO fabric and findings. However, it is important to acknowledge that a small, but undisclosed amount goes to a license fee to use that SPEC4CE Forest camouflage pattern by Hyperstealth, but I understand the fabric costs are quite comparable to the fabrics used in US military uniforms. In fact, the uniforms cost about the same as a US issue uniform. Considering they are made from the same materials in the same factories, by American workers, they should.

The Polycotton material in the ANP uniform? That’s not made or printed in America. PolyCotton comes from Asia. Here’s another point about the difference between NYCO and PolyCotton. NYCO is no melt no drip, while PolyCotton will keep burning even if you take a flame away from it. Additionally, NYCO accepts printing very well and is colorfast, while PolyCotton fades quickly. You might also note that the authors of the report seem to think that the PolyCotton ANP’s uniform requirement of “no ripstop” is somehow superior to the ripstop NYCO fabric. Finally, NYCO itself is at least twice as durable as PolyCotton. The report claims that each ANA uniform is 43% more expensive than an ANP uniform. Even at a 43% markup, if that ANA uniform lasts twice as long, it sure looks like the ANA uniform is a much better value than the ANP uniform. How much more would those uniforms have cost over the past eight delivery years if they had been made from PolyCotton and they had gone through twice as many?

The money spent on that special camouflage pattern also paid for eight years of peace of mind. The first uniforms were delivered in 2009. The pattern has been restricted from sale to anyone outside of the program. Afghan and American troops haven’t had to worry that an enemy infiltrator may have purchased a lookalike uniform online. I’m not sure how you can even put a price on that. The woodland uniforms of the ANP on the other hand, are readily available for anyone to buy. Now that’s something that should be fixed.

After all of their “fact finding”, and discussion of misspent funds, what does SIGAR recommend? Why, spending even more money, of course. The conclusion is for the US to find a new pattern for the ANA. Never mind the millions of Dollars already spent on clothing and PPE and never mind the identity of the Afghan National Army. Instead, we should keep in mind that Afghanistan chose a pattern and barring any evidence that it doesn’t work, we should honor that. If it doesn’t work, we need to help them find a new path and not force something down their throats.

Who knows how much was spent on this report, and how much would actually be spent on developing an entirely new pattern. The program should be looked at as a success. The ANA has a distinctive uniform and it is restricted from sale to those outside of the program which has helped keep Afghan and Coalition troops safe from at least some infiltrator attacks. If the desire is to save money, perhaps a better licensing arrangement can be negotiated with Hyperstealth. But to start anew from scratch, replacing an allied Army’s equipment and identity, is a waste of time and money. However, if the actual goal of this report was to make the case that Natick needs to develop a new uniform for Afghanistan, then let them replace the M81 Woodland pattern of the ANP. That would do more to protect Afghanistan and their allies than a replacement of the ANA’s current unique camouflage pattern.

Birdwell 808 Board Shorts in WWII Frogskin Camo

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

SSD reader Joel P told us about these WWII Frogskin camo board shorts from Birdwell Beach Britches.

Features:
Triple lace closure with brass plated grommets. Birdie woven label on center back of waistband. Signature Birdwell wax pocket with key loop and interior drain hole. Nylon drawcord. Button fly with clear buttons.

Fit:
Medium length. Outseams range between 17” – 21” depending on your waist size. Sits slightly lower on the waist than SurfNyl boardshorts. Stretch fabric means there will be some give in the waist. For odd sizes, order one size down. Tab closure allows for minor adjustments in fit.

Fabric:
Single layer of Frog Skin Camo Birdwell SurfStretch – Woven Micro Fiber Polyester with Spandex.

Construction:
Fail safe clean finished double- and triple-stitched seams. Hand cut and sewn in Santa Ana, CA.

www.birdwell.com/products/808-mens-board-shorts-camo

Rampart Range Day 2017 – Grey Ghost Gear

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

You may not know this but Grey Ghost Gear has a Canadian subsidiary which had a full line of wares on display at Rampart Range Day.

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One of the items was this new helmet cover. It will be offered in Black, Ranger Green and MuotiCam for the Ops-Core, Team Wendy and M-TEK helmets.

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While the overall construction will look familiar as hybrid designs have become industry standard, this cover features a built in pocket at the rear for counterweights or other items.

http://www.greyghostgear.com