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US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort STILL Going Strong

Despite anything you might have read elsewhere, the US Army has not abandoned their Camouflage Improvement Effort. If you haven’t heard of this before, then do a search for the term ‘effort’ here on SSD and catch up.

Here is the latest update from PEO Soldier –

As part of the ongoing effort to improve Soldiers uniforms, the Army continues to research new camouflage patterns to be printed on the existing Army Combat Uniform (ACU) design.

The ACU was presented to Senior Army leadership in December 2003 for potential Army fielding. The ACU was developed based on many months of research and development. It decreased the out-of-pocket cost burden on our younger Soldiers by replacing the three types of Battle Dress Uniforms with a one-weight, wash-and-wear uniform with improved functionality and ergonomics.

In 2009, the Secretary of the Army approved a four-phase approach to provide uniforms for personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern suited to the Afghanistan environment and to evaluate an Army long-term uniform camouflage plan. Phases I-III were focused on improving Army uniform camouflage in Afghanistan. These phases are complete and culminated with the fielding of the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Camouflage Pattern to Soldiers in and deploying to Afghanistan.

The Phase IV Camouflage Effort seeks to select a family of three patterns comprising the woodland, arid, and transitional environments, which will allow the Army to operate in different terrains and conditions around the globe. The Phase IV patterns are undergoing field trials and the data from those trials will be taken to Army senior leadership for review. This will be followed by a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the Army will adopt a new camouflage pattern. The Army understands the financial constraints on the DoD and the nation, and we are committed to conducting this research and making any future camouflage uniform changes in an affordable and fiscally responsible manner.

The cost of adopting a new family of camouflage patterns will depend on many factors, including how widely the new uniform pattern would be fielded and how fast it would be adopted. If a new camouflage pattern uniform is phased in to replace existing uniforms as they are worn out, the program would either issue new uniforms to incoming soldiers or would replace older uniforms that would need replacement anyway. The uniform’s only change would be the camouflage pattern, with no changes to existing materials or design (i.e., fabric, pocket location, number of pockets, etc.).

Soldiers are our strength and purpose and deserve the best we can offer. The Army will enhance the survivability, safety, mobility, and sustainability of Soldiers by providing state-of-the-art, operationally effective individual clothing and equipment. The Army has applied the lessons learned during development, testing, and fielding of the UCP and OCP patterns to devise a better scientific testing program for evaluating camouflage.

27 Responses to “US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort STILL Going Strong”

  1. bob says:

    Is this a direct rebuttal to the article on military.com?

    • SSD says:

      This is in response to a great deal of very bad information out there.

    • straps says:

      Not sure if a “rebuttal” is in order. The two paragraphs “that matter” from the other site are buried deeply in the middle of the article:

      “But officials running the camouflage effort are now looking at two options to recommend to the service’s senior leadership this fall.

      One option would be to make MultiCam the Army’s official camouflage pattern, sources tell Military.com.”

      Un-attributed quotes from folks smart enough to not even allow their eschelon to be revealed. Suspect, but that site does get some stuff right. Might be a trial balloon, might be an early scoop.

      How I read this is that units bound to or from OEF-A will migrate to Multicam, eliminating, potentially, two clothing & personal equipment re-fits (from UCP to OCP on deployment, then OCP to UCP on re-deployment). In the age of fluid stocks of gear administered by ever larger CIFs with ever better inventory management (KYLOC–Kentucky Logistics Operations Center), this could work pretty much seamlessly.

      My unit just pushed a PDSS (Pre-Deployment Site Survey) out the door with a full complement of OCP gear. Supply guy pushed the fitment data up the chain, a week and a half later a skid showed up at the unit. Save for the fact that my unit doesn’t have an OCP-scheme patch (spare me your scorn, I was promoted in to stand up their OCO capability) and not everyone had pin-on rank on their headgear, this went flawlessly–save for a guy who submitted “aspirational” uniform sizing data.

      All this in mind, no reason that the ACIE can’t hum along even as the Army migrates to OCP/Multicam, in the process spending not one more dime on UCP.

      • SSD says:

        I don’t feel that it is proper for me to comment on the validity of someone else’s story but I am more than comfortable in saying that I was also approached with that information and upon checking with multiple other sources I determined that it was not something that I was comfortable publishing.

        No one was ‘floating a story.’ In fact, I’d say that there are quite a few people who deal with this issue that were caught unaware by that story and it has made their jobs much more difficult.

        Additionally, if anyone was actually considering that course of action, it is going to be all the more difficult to implement.

  2. Danny says:

    3 types of BDUs? 100% cotton, 50/50 NYCO? and 100% cotton twill? Or are they referring to choco chip, woodland, and 3 color desert? If I’m not mistaken, choco chip got phased out before the invasion of Iraq.

  3. MannyF says:

    So the ACU replaced “the three types of Battle Dress Uniforms with a one-weight, wash-and-wear uniform” and then years later they decide to “select a family of three patterns comprising the woodland, arid, and transitional environments, which will allow the Army to operate in different terrains and conditions around the globe.”

    Wow, 3 to 1 and now back to 3. Granted most would say the ACU is a better functional design than the BDU, while others would prefer the latter anyway

    I wonder if this family of three patterns include the OEF pattern, AKA Multicam, or a completely different set.

    • Chris W says:

      I was asking myself the same thing – three types? I had BDUs and was then issued DCUs for my deployment to Kuwait/Iraq… what the heck was the third?

      • Greg says:

        Go to the ADS inc. site, go to their “camouflage solutions” then go to “Family of camouflage program.”

      • bob says:

        BDUs, hot weather BDUs, DCUs.

        • Strike-Hold! says:

          I was just going to clarify that point too Bob – they’re talking about the types of uniform, not the types of camouflage.

    • Greg says:

      Complete different set, the third (Transitional) would function in the way multicam would. Then a fourth one for gear, webbing and vest.

  4. Chris P says:

    I am hoping, but not betting on it, that politics and ignoring experienced soldier input will not play the a role in the Army’s selection of the new uniform(s).

  5. B. Elmore says:

    I can tell you just from reading this that one lesson they haven’t learned is that the current uniform is WAY TOO HOT for an arid environment. We’re sweating our a$$es off over here, in no small part due to our uniform. The locals think we’re crazy for what we’re wearing.

    A smarter army would find this solution: make the new arid-environment uniforms out of a better breathing fabric. But, as the article says, all three uniforms will be the same current fabric.

  6. Aaron says:

    Can I get the front pockets like the Corps has?

  7. Matty says:

    I enjoy that they’ve spent so much money on the ACU then on the Multicam and now for some more uniforms. No money shortage here.

  8. US Soldier says:

    I believe out of all the competitors; US4CES camo is the best and the US Army needs to decide now and start changing the pattern.

    • SSD says:

      No, the Army needs to conclude its testing and go from there.

    • CAVstrong says:

      Have you seen Crye’s submission? What about a good acurrate image of Brookwood’s submission?

      Have you seen any of the patterns IRL on a standard FR ACU?

      Yes US4CES looks cool on their website, but I am less impressed with the real life images of US4CES, especially the OCIE pattern.

      I agree they need to hurry up and finish testing. However I think this needs to be a DoD wide initiative. For the safety, and professionalism of our armed forces we should all wear the same camouflage. If the Marines want to keep wearing the Combat Utility Uniform, that’s fine they fill a different role and have different needs in a uniform. HOWEVER we all benefit from uniformity in camo patterns.

      SSD: sorry about the rant. I know people have been rude on here lately, but I needed to get that off my chest.

      • SSD says:

        You’re not being rude at all. You just want this over with like the rest of us and I appreciate that. I want it over with too but I want to make sure that the Army completes the process as they’ve promised. Then, based on scientific data they can make an educated decision.

        I haven’t seen the Crye patterns, few have. Nor have we seen any ‘good’ photos of the Brookwood submission.

        I haven’t seen any of the patterns on FR ACUs but…the TENCATE Defender-M substrate isn’t being evaluated at this point, just 50/50 NYCO. This is to mitigate cost and determine how the patterns will look on the standard uniform Soldiers will wear day-to-day as we curtail major combat operations.

        I have seen printed versions of both ADS and Kryptek’s submission. Both offer interesting 3-dimensional attributes.

      • Greg says:

        What’s not impressive about Cramer and his patterns?

        Arid – Looks great too me, plus the army loved this one when they did the first early test.

        Woodland – Havn’t seen real life images yet, i’m sure its good too.

        Transitional – Beat both UCP and MC in their own test.

        OCIE – It does look a little odd at first glance i’ll admit, but it’s a bit of a compromise.

        And one noticeably good thing is that it’s still digital!

  9. Chad T. says:

    One real big concern I have is that after they select a new pattern that it will be placed right back on the ACU design and fielded. The ACU is a terrible uniform. As a former Marine now Army Warrant Officer making the transition from MARPAT to the ACU was probably the hardest out of everything. The cut, stitching, pockets, quality of material and the awful velcro just makes that uniform. The uniform wears out so fast and it honestly looks like hell after a few months of wear. I’m not sure if part of this pattern change will come a uniform design but please look at the MARPAT uniform for cut, fit and utility. Maybe put out a survey like the Marines did in 2000 asking what the Marines wanted in their new uniform.

    • Chad T. says:

      And don’t get me started about Air Warrior. That is a waste of the tax payer’s money. Stop wasting money on $350 two-piece flight suits and go back to the one-piece.

    • US Soldier says:

      Ooh-Rah. I am a former-Marine and Army Warrant as well. Right now I am wearing the multi-cam and it is better than the current UCP but the cut is flimsy and it just does not fit well; regardless if it is the FRACU or not. Rank in the middle; pockets not in-board enough and the stupid velcro. Also, sorry that the Marines now go sleeves down all year round like the Army which is stupid too. The service is treating their members more like babies than ever before.

      SSD, who do you represent? Multi-cam or US4CES. Yes, I saw that article on military.com that it appears that multi-cam will be the selection but that makes no sense since that is again; another one uniform solution. They just need to put me on the uniform board and like a real Warrant; fix and resolve the problem ASAP.

      • SSD says:

        I don’t rep anyone. No matter who ‘wins’ the Soldier wins and so does the Soldier Systems industry.