Archive for the ‘Camo’ Category
We snapped this photo during a recent visit to S&S Precision. Does anyone recognize the pants?
This article was originally published on 1 October, 2012 and I’m reposting it because some of our new readers don’t know that Congress has taken a keen interest in the DoD Camo Wars. Just a word of caution, I haven’t changed the article but apparently, some thin skinned readers felt that I was picking on one service in particular the first time it was published. I wasn’t. Sometimes the truth hurts. And, sometimes you get lucky. Everybody got it wrong on some level but the Air Force really screwed up. If anyone wants to complain about my assertions, I’d say it should be them.
As directed by Congress, The Government Accounting Office wrote a report on individual service camouflage and combat uniforms.
Bottom Line Up Front – You’re going to see a lot of people talk about this report this week. I will probably take an entirely different view than any of them. The biggest thing about this report is not so much what it says, but what it doesn’t. It doesn’t come out and say that the vanity patterns have got to go, but implies it. It doesn’t say that all of the uniforms should be literally cut from the same cloth but it implies that they should. Instead, the report points to the 2010 NDAA language requiring the services to work together. Thus far, it seems that only the Army and Air Force are doing so. And then, there are a lot of missing data points. Also, some uniforms that aren’t combat uniforms are considered so and vice versa. It’s a good start but for me, it’s far from definitive.
First off, the report lays lots of blame on the Army and Air Force and the Marine Corps and Navy get off relatively scot-free. My take on that? expletive deleted. The Marine Corps garners the ultimate blame for coming up with this service branding = camouflage nonsense in the first place. Furthermore, the report is highly critical of the Air Force for their noncombat camouflage uniform. For some reason it fails to hold the Navy to the same standard. Their issue NWU Type I is in a blue pixelated pattern for God’s sake! Of their two ‘combat’ oriented patterns only one is standard issue (NWU Type III / AOR2). The Desert variant is still only for NSW issue leaving Naval ground combatants without a service issue desert uniform since the CNO withdrew use of the old 3-color desert as of June of this year. Granted, both the Army and Air Force really screwed this up, but they are hardly the only ones.
Second, the timing of this report is most unfortunate. The Army is knee deep in a testing cycle that will fundamentally change the way we look at camouflage and the various military operating environments we send our troops to. The Army has really made lemons into lemonade here and taken this thing to a whole new level. Unfortunately, it took UCP to make this happen. If they would have adopted anything more effective, they wouldn’t be here. Everyone in DoD is going to benefit from their work.
Sure, UCP is awful and the report is right on time about this. The acquisition process exists to prevent SGT Yorks and the Army deviated from the path and bought themselves the uniform equivalent. But from that misstep, they are undertaking the only study of its kind, in history. All of the ‘winners and losers’ from this GAO report will most likely be looked at in an entirely new light by early next year. The Marine Corps has been lucky. Nothing more. They did conduct data collection and wear tests for the cut of the MCCUU but they didn’t go to anywhere near the lengths that the Army has taken so far and continues to undertake in order to consider the effectiveness of their patterns.
I think that once we see the results of the current Army effort, some of the conventional wisdom like using solid colored PPE which has already been shown to be counterintuitive based on data collected a few years ago during Afghanistan based photometric studies, will go by the wayside. In the end, the Army will know how their candidate patterns perform all over the world. They’ll also know how all of the current issue patterns perform all over the world. Hopefully, the Army and their sister services will have the fortitude to make use of that data. Budgets and service parochialism be damned.
In my opinion, at this point, the Navy has the best ‘combat’ uniforms. They are also the newest. The NWU Type II and III adapted uniform lessons from SOCOM and are very well laid out. Much better than any other service uniforms. On the other hand, the NWU Type I is of a similar cut to the USMC’s MCCUU but in a blue pixelated pattern. It’s a garrison and shipboard only utility uniform yet enjoys the popular cut of the Marine utilities. If only they’d issue the Type III to everyone.
The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform came before any of the others and is offered in two patterns (Woodand and Desert) but really isn’t a combat uniform. For that, the Marines adopted a Crye designed combat uniform called Flame Resistant Organizational Gear. Unfortunately, they still haven’t updated the design to accept integrated kneepads like SOCOM’s PCU level 9 or the Army Combat Pant. Overall, most Marines like both uniforms and they’ve started to purchase FROG in their woodland variant pattern, hedging their bets against future threats.
What did I learn from this report that surprised me? The Army estimates that the recapitalization of camouflage will cost them $4 Billion over the next five years. For some unexplained reason, they can do it this time for $1 Billion less than last time. Maybe they aren’t going to offer free ACUs in the new pattern(s) to serving Soldiers like they did last time. This means a lot of personal funds will be spent on new uniforms. Personally, I see this camo change worth a lot more than last time. Soldiers abhor UCP and I predict that the day the Army makes the announcement on which pattern they are migrating to, anything and everything available in that pattern will sell out via individual purchase, that day and for the foreseeable future. Commercially, this might rival the release of iPhone 5.
I also learned that the the GAO cherry picks, at least with this report. They call ACU and ABU combat uniforms when they aren’t. Maybe they were originally designed to be, but this war has made them for garrison only. Additionally, the Army seems to get zero credit for developing the ACU as a uniform. It not only refined the requirement through development of the Close Combat Uniform, but also conducted combat assessments of the CCU before transitioning it to become the ACU.
As a tangent, this report has also reinforced my assertion that the FR ACU is a redundant uniform and a waste of money. With the advent of the Army Combat Pant, the Army has a real, purpose-built combat uniform if it is paired with the Army Combat Shirt. The ACU is a garrison uniform and there’s no need for an FR garrison cut uniform. Perhaps the ACU should be further simplified to lower the cost for use in garrison.
In the camo uniform follies, the Air Force is ultimately the biggest loser. They kept the worst of the BDU, added the worst of the ACU, made it from the heaviest fabric available and then added an anti-wrinkle treatment which doesn’t breath. Now, 6 years on they are authorizing a new fabric that is lighter, but the base uniform cut still stinks. But that’s just for a garrison uniform.
Although it was in digital tigerstripe (their vanity pattern) the Air Force put together a great clothing system for deployed Airmen called Airman Battle System – Ground that was not only an FR combat uniform but also provided FR environmental clothing. When the Air Force took the easy road and adopted Army OCIE for Afghanistan it stripped its Airmen of FR cold weather clothing. Having Airmen blend in with Army elements makes sense. “Dumbing” them down doesn’t.
The Air Force can’t have a common garrison and combat uniform because its NCOs want to live in the past. Practicality be damned. Bicep pockets get in the way of big stripes sewn on the sleeve. Unless they can adapt, this issue may continue to keep the Air Force from adopting a modern uniform design. Hopefully, they will work it out and go with the Army on the uniform and camouflage thing. They seem to be making it work in Afghanistan.
Make sure you read this report. If you are interested at all in DoD camo programs or combat uniforms, you need to read it for yourself. It’s not very long.
It has come to our attention that the US Army has not contacted any of the contenders for the US Army’s replacement for the so-called, current issue Universal Camouflage Pattern to inform them whether or not they were selected.
They’d better hurry up. Word is that the Secretary of the Army will offer a very welcome birthday gift on 14 June in the form of an announcement for a new camouflage pattern. But, if they cut it too close, any possible protests by non-selects could come after the announcement. This could result in some egg on the face of the Army leadership if it delays or even overturns the selection of the announced winner. Conversely, if they notify the companies too early, there is concern that one or more will announce their status in order to capitalize on deals for their patterns that they have held at arms length awaiting the Army’s decision. There’s lots of money on the line whether these patterns are selected or not. It’s time for the Army to come clean with the companies that made it this far.
Hyperstealth’s front man Guy Cramer has written a rather extensive look at the recent history of US Army camouflage development. Inspired by the large number of online commenters stating that OD provided the best camouflage, he dug into his archives to demonstrate that this isn’t the case at all and goes one step further by using the US Army’s documentation to make the case for environmental specific camo patterns and explain why the Army ended up conducting the Camouflage Improvement Effort.
Cramer is very open about the fact that he worked with ADS Inc to offer the US4CES family of patterns so he has some very staunch opinions about camouflage. In my opinion, this doesn’t color his article but it’s worth knowing while you read it all the same. Ultimately, it is definitely worth your time to read.
Word has it that not only will the Army unveil a new family of camouflage patterns in the coming weeks, but they’ll also make a very welcome announcement concerning another uniform combination.
It’s no real surprise but word has leaked. It might be the Army’s announcement to make, but rumors are swirling around the Army on which of the four families of patterns has been chosen to replace the so-called Universal Camouflage Pattern. What the heck, you’ve got a one-in-four chance of being right.
Multiple sources have verified that the Secretary of the Army plans on announcing the new camo selection on June 14th, the Army’s birthday. But, at this point, the selection may well be common knowledge by then.
I’m contacted regularly with “insider” information to tell me which family of patterns were chosen. Often, they are wrong. When they are right, I ask the source of their info. Yesterday, I received a very interesting answer to that question. According to the contact, the ultimate source of the info was Sergeant Major of the Army, Raymond F Chandler III. Interesting. He knows. According to the info I received, SMA Chandler discussed the choice with another Sergeant Major who “sits on a board” with the SMA. The CSM passed it along, and so on. Normally, I’d ignore that as static except that the pattern was described, in such a way that someone who wasn’t a geardo might pass along to another. There was enough right and enough wrong that it sounded like it was the result of a game of ‘telephone.’ That got my attention.
Now, something you need to know as background. When the Army fielded the ACU and UCP on the Army’s birthday in 2004, the Major Army Command CSMs were all briefed on the uniform and allowed to offer feedback. As an amusing aside, the USAREUR CSM at the time was quite concerned that the ACU be offered in a maternity cut. At any rate, it would be no surprise that the Army’s Senior Enlisted would be familiar with the decision at this point.
The truth is out there, you just have to know who to ask.
Many have been waiting for the chance to order fabric in the various Kryptek camouflage patterns. Now, you’ve got your chance. Below, you can see the five patterns; Mandrake (woodland), Highlander (transitional), Nomad (arid), Typhon (urban) and Yeti (snow).
They are offering Cordura in 330D, 500D and 1000D weights as well as 40D nylon ripstop, 600D polyester, and NYCO Ripstop as well as Alpha which combines 91% Nylon and 9% Spandex for a little bit of stretch yet great durability.
You must review the site to determine which fabrics are available in which patterns.