B5 Systems

Fielding the OEF FR ACU

Soldier in MultiCamAs most of you know by now, the MultiCam version of the Fire Resistant Army Combat Uniform slated to be issued to troops in Afghanistan has been officially dubbed the OEF FR ACU. This is because it is supposed to only be used in Afghanistan (Operation ENDURING FREEDOM). I guess someone forgot that operations in the Philippines are also part of OEF. But then again, I don’t share PEO-Soldier’s wishful optimism that commanders in other areas won’t want their troops to be outfitted in MultiCam as well. I mean after all, testing has demonstrated it is a very effective pattern in a variety of environments. Why wouldn’t a commander want his troops outfitted in the best equipment available.

At any rate, where are those new OEF FR ACUs anyway? Well, the Army is on its way to fielding, working its way through the procurement process, but meeting the goal of July is going to be difficult if not impossible. The recently released pre-solicitation doesn’t close until 1 June. Then, the Army still has to release an actual solicitation which is usually open for about 30 days, make an award, deal with any protests that might arise, wait for uniforms to roll off the line, and finally distribute them. While mills are chugging away manufacturing FR Defender-M from Tencate, none of the manufacturers of uniforms will place orders for fabric until they receive a contract so there is only so much leaning forward in the fox hole that can be done.

One of the reasons that PEO-Soldier isn’t jumping into MultiCam with both feet is that the Army hasn’t made a long-term decision about camouflage yet. PEO-Soldier says that the Army is moving toward a decision on Phase IV of the camo project but thus far, almost nothing has been released on what exactly this phase entails. Hopefully, we will begin to see some transparency considering the brouhaha raised over the selection of the Universal Camouflage Pattern.


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