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US Army Interested in Field Solutions to Soldier Camouflage

In a Request for Information released last week entitled, “Request for Information on Field Solutions to Soldier Camouflage: Identify in-the-field solutions/materials that will give Soldiers the ability to improve/adjust camouflage uniforms and equipment to better match the specific terrain” the US Army has cast a net seeking “for on-the-spot/field solutions that can be applied to the baseline uniform that will provide for better visual/near-infrared blending for specific areas. These solutions will have the capability to adjust camouflage uniforms and Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) in-the-field to provide enhanced performance in specific sites of conflict.”

During the Q&A portion of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort industry day, PEO Soldier officials specifically ruled out such nontraditional solutions for the program which concentrates on a family of printed camouflage patterns for clothing and individual equipment. Apparently, they’ve realized that even three patterns (Temperate, Woodland and Desert) won’t even be specific enough for every environment and that there will be a requirement for even more specific patterns. Considering how long it has taken to make this camo program happen, I don’t blame them. A conflict could well be over before a development program could even begin let alone see its way to completion.

There’s another interesting aspect to this RFI. If a solution is identified, it could allow the Army to retain a single pattern and just rely on the site specific camo technology for anything that doesn’t match well.

Having said all of that I have to mention that I’m not sure what happened, but the Army I was in, way back in the 80s taught Soldiers to utilize natural materials from their local environment to further camouflage themselves. This really might be more of a ‘Training’ issue than a ‘Material’ one (DOTMLPF). I’ve noticed a lot of field craft has gone by the wayside. I don’t know if the Army has forgotten lessons learned, leaders aren’t enforcing standards or the Army is just plain tired after 10 years at war.

At any rate, if you’ve got some great ideas, then check out the RFI and let the Army know about it.


24 Responses to “US Army Interested in Field Solutions to Soldier Camouflage”

  1. Wotan says:

    Good. They discovered the better camouflage is found on the battlefield.

    Go on.

  2. Matsucorp says:

    We need an RFI for something even kids playing hide n’ seek in the woods already know?

    I completely agree with the authors quote…
    “I’ve noticed a lot of field craft has gone by the wayside. I don’t know if the Army has forgotten lessons learned, leaders aren’t enforcing standards or the Army is just plain tired after 10 years at war.”

  3. D says:

    Seriously. Is this not a basic infantry skill as thought in OSUT and tested for EIB?

  4. Matt M. says:

    Really? We have had ghuillie suits and the like in place since 1910 and they are just getting interested in it?

    • Johnny B says:

      Agreed to an extent. I think the ghillie – a true ghillie – is a rather time-invested bit of fieldcraft better suited to purposed individuals and would be difficult to replicate sucessfully en masse. Think of many of the soldiers you know in the infantry: do you really want they crafting their own ghillie?

      I don’t understand, though, why we don’t have mass produced 3D smocks. Nothing crazy – just something akin to some of the leafy 3D hunting camos commercially available. These can be produced with a consistent design that has been custom shaped and colored for any give environ. In a desert: make it relatively smooth; in a woodland/jungle: make it ‘leafy’; in transitional/mountain: make it ‘lumpy’ or have the shape of the ‘leafs’ made more irreguar. Anything to aid in breaking up the human shape. Smocks are quality controlled and sized. You dont need to worry about Gomer making his ghillie look like the biggest, spiked super-bush on the plain.

      My thoughts.

  5. PLiner says:

    KRYLON!!! Rattle can that shit and be done with it. Field craft and common sense have gone AWOL apparently.

    • ODG says:

      LMFAO!! Well said PLiner! apparently the army forgot about krylon, face paint, jute, local vegetation and making stencils out of MRE card board! I think I am going to write a book called “Green side- The Lost Art”

    • Chuck says:

      Unfortunately, the rattle can isn’t compatible with the clothing record. You sign for your OCIE, you spray paint it, then you get rejected by CIF when you try to turn it in. In the general purpose forces we’re expected to turn our gear in all squeaky clean-like.

  6. BpSitRep says:

    The Army and all Services need to start utilizing ‘other’ ‘Made in America’ companies and screw the damn cost issue, that can be negotiated. Lowest bidder wins means our people die in combat/training. As for the camo issue, technology and common sense are evolving camo patterns that should represent today’s battlefields. Lesson’s learned since 1774, need to be applied today as well. I notice in many photos, films, of combat patrols in Afghanistan,Iraq and training in the Philippines, ‘distance’ discipline has been lost. One good claymore will take out half the dismounted platoon easily. What’s practiced in peace is used in war !!

  7. Strike-Hold! says:

    You know, this might actually be the Army’s back-door exit-strategy to get out of the high cost of re-equipping the whole Army with three terrain-specific patterns for clothing and one for gear.

    One half-ghillie or other type of field-expedient individual camouflage enhancing solution per soldier instead of 3 – 4 new camo patterns would certainly make a strong economic argument – wouldn’t it?

  8. James says:

    While I agree with the idea of the use of natural vegetation, what do you do when there is none, like a lot of Afghan mountain sides that I’ve been on? If one is working in a static position there’s already a simple solution in the supply system-individual camoflage nets. They’re made of a lightweight, breathable mesh like that used in mesh laundry bags. They come in woodland, 6 color desert, and white. Rattle can to the environment as needed (although the woodland is extremely dark in color). I know of Scout Platoons that used COTS solutions for various purposes to aid and improve camoflage for overwatch and SKT missions. The solutions are already in the system, like 3D mesh hunting suits…

    • Martin says:

      Spray glue is the greatest thing ever. Get whatever your outer surface of camo might be, spray glue on it and roll it in the local substrate. If that is leaves then the exact same leaves will stick to your camo, if it be dirt then the exact same dirt will stick to your stuff. Just make sure you don’t use too much and leave a weird cleared spot somewhere near your hiding place.

  9. Jey says:

    Well, there is always “doing it like Israelis and Russians”: cheap, baggy ovecoat (like snow white parka and trousers) made from light material or mesh with camouflage printed on it.

  10. Kent Benson says:

    As an ex British soldier we never did get the luxury of specific camouflage kit. We just had to use a thing that was issued in training. It was called “fieldcraft” it was an excellent bit of kit, was not available in any shop and was paid for individually in training by your ears,eyes, nose and muscles, sweat and tears. It could be obtained only from good instructors.
    I remember hours spent sewing on little bits of elastic so that you could attach scrim netting and hessian to a combat jacket to adapt it or covering it with mud from the local terrain. Has this basic battle skill been lost or has it been so well hidden we cannot find it?

  11. John Mayeski says:

    From reading the revised contract, from a link in the original RFI, this has sadly already been canceled. It’s seems the Army wants everybody to look the same and have a “uniform” appearance with no common sense. They all want to look good instead of being effective….and that gets people killed!

  12. John says:

    The Armed Forces need to shape up and let individual soldiers equip themselves and camouflage themselves as they see fit pertaining to the environment they are in. Let them buy their own Multi-cam or other camouflage uniforms and gear and wash their ACUs with dyes to get a better effect. Scrimmage and use of foliage seems to be a thing of the past and should be taught in basic training or AIT.

    It should not matter how you look(as long as its effective enough in its environment), it should be based on someone’s skills and abilities and team work with their comrades.

    • SSD says:

      There’s this pesky thing called the Law of Armed Conflict that jumps right in front of your train. Additionally, we tend to prefer that our militaries look somewhat uniform for accountabilitiy’s sake and the like. Not to mention, it helps a lot when you enculturating them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. And finally, parades just look better when everyone is wearing the same thing.

      • Johnny B says:

        “Not to mention, it helps a lot when you enculturating them to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

        Don’t let the Army of One hear that…..

  13. Cyphre says:

    I think the author comment is a little shortsighted on modern fieldcraft. Let’s break down modern fieldcraft in the middle east wars:

    1. Lay on the ground
    2. Roll around
    3. ?????
    4. Profit.

    Because scrub brush makes a pretty terrible addition to a ghillie. Personally, I find the concept a brilliant idea, especially if it is something that could improve current netting used for vehicles/tents. A smaller cloak-like piece for individual units could help immensely in region-specific incursions (mission-specific, as opposed to general issue). Would have quelled all the complaints about ACU from the get-go if they didn’t try to adapt yet another new pattern this late in the game.

  14. Greg says:

    Ghillie suits are meant for snipers, you got the slits in the helmet covers and elastic bands for that. Not to mention they can shred pieces of old ACU cloth and make a sort of mop out of it and place it over your head to break up your heads outline i saw some old Just Cause pics that shows heavy use of that method then do the same with the rest. Just pick the cheapest new uniform and put that to work then we can pit burn those awful UCP/MC pajamas.

    • DSN says:

      That ‘sort of mop’ you saw in Just Cause pics is called Manchu Hair.

      Keep Up The Fire

      • SSD says:

        Only if you’re a Manchu. Other Regiments used to use them as well, like the 15th Infantry.