Primary Arms Giveaway

GAO – DOD Should Improve Development of Camouflage Uniforms and Enhance Collaboration Among the Services

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? Bullshit. 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 bough 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 has already been shown to be counterintuitive based on data collected a few years ago during Afghanistan based photometric studies. 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 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.

ABUIn 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.

GAO Report on Camo and Combat Uniforms


73 Responses to “GAO – DOD Should Improve Development of Camouflage Uniforms and Enhance Collaboration Among the Services”

  1. Sol says:

    i detect a little bit of Marine Corps hate-orade going on here. you failed to mention that all over the net Soldiers are all saying that they should dump multicam and go with MARPAT….

    • SSD says:

      Detect whatever you want. Facts is facts. That report is half baked. Besides, I don’t know anybody in the Army who actually knows what is going on suggesting that they adopt MARPAT. In fact, the four families of patterns that the Army is currently evaluating all surpassed the performance of MARPAT, AOR and OCP in the first round of photosimulation studies. If that GAO report were released next year, it would read like a different book.

      If we let Corporals and Second Lieutenants make all of the decisions we’d really be screwed. It’s bad enough with folks driving the train who actually know what they are doing.

      • orly? says:

        I agree on both posts.

        I’m skimming through the report, too early for 52 pages.

        1. The USMC is under the command of the DoD/Congress. This is something I’ve wondered for awhile. If they are ordered to share their MARPAT or adopt OCP, they will OBEY that order no matter what.

        I’d hardly think it would be the other way around.

        But for some darned reason, they never issued such an order in the early 2000’s. From what I gather, this report is basically an attempt to formalize such a common sense proposal.

        Shame on whoever for not doing this in 2000 right?

        2. MARPAT is not the superduper end all camoflauge pattern. However, it does seem to be the simplest.

        Why is 10% of the other services development costs I’ll never know.

        IMHO OCP is superior, but what do I know?
        The new entries, from what I’ve seen, is better. Though more complicated.

        3. Navy wear everything from old woodland to OCP. It’s just more fashionable that way.

        4. “Besides, I don’t know anybody in the Army who actually knows what is going on suggesting that they adopt MARPAT.”

        Oh, I’m sure there’s at least ONE guy.

        • SSD says:

          Why would the Army want to settle for MARPAT when everything they are currently evaluating out performs it?

          • orly? says:

            Ask majr0d

          • SSD says:

            I think he’s retired.

          • majrod says:

            I am retired. Don’t know what difference that makes? I’ve seen dozens of articles from retired/former service types on SSD that contribute incredible insight and wisdom on a variety of subjects (not to say I belong in their pantheon).

            My position was and is quite simple. Two criteria”Best Pattern & “Common Patterns” whoever developed them. We fight and die next to each other. Uniqueness is BS.

            Orly don’t get confused, circa ’10 tests the most effective all around pattern was MARPAT. A lot has happened in the last two years and the patterns have changed.

            SSD – Very well written synopsis and perspective. Bravo!

            • SSD says:

              I am retired as well and thank you for your service. My point was that I don’t know of anyone on Active Duty in the Army who is actually dealing with camo issues who is advocating adopting MARPAT. That train left the station quite awhile ago.

          • majrod says:

            Very true. Last year it was included in an evaluation the Marine CSM made a big deal of it.


          • Riceball says:

            I think that most of the talk about getting the Army to adopt MARPAT was prior to the recent boom in camo patterns and the Army’s UCP replacement program. Back when the Army first adopted UCP and until relatively recently MARPAT would have been the better choice and even though I’m a former Marine I do blame the Corps for copyrighting MARPAT and not sharing with the rest of the US military. At the same time the SecDef should have given an order to the SecNav to order the Corps to stop all of this proprietary nonsense, sanitize MARPAT of its EGAs and have all branches adopt it. But that was then and this is now and with improvements made in camo designs if the Army can find and adopt a pattern superior to MARPAT then I say good for them.

          • US Soldier says:

            Many in the Army (including myself that is still serving since 1983), advocate for MARPAT. I get it that the new patterns that are testing are perhaps better; but why re-invent the wheel? Why waste more money on testing if US4CES won’t be the selection? Simply go with something that works and that is MARPAT. Marines been using it for over a decade and the government needs to stop this proprietary BS and just tell the Corps to let the other services use their pattern. Isn’t a very simply solution?

      • Sol says:

        instead of throwing stones you might want to talk to the Army and get them to fix their own house. i mean seriously…multicam for 782 gear? why not go with Ranger Green or Coyote…but no. they decided on one pattern for one environment instead of making it adaptable to several (well at least the gear side)…so yeah. i’m detecting hater-aide…and a bit of a slanted article. and yeah…facts are facts cowboy.

        • SSD says:

          Sounds like you didn’t read the article.

        • Riceball says:

          The reason for that is simple, the Corps made a mistake in adopting Coyote brown for all of their gear, all of that solid color negates a lot of the benefits of wearing a camo uniform. Think of it, wearing a big brown piece of body means that the only part of your upper body that’s camouflaged are your arms. Having a neutral color is simple but I think the Army is smart in looking at a separate pattern that will work well with both a woodland and a desert camo pattern. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly better than having two separate sets of packs, pouches, and body armor.

      • Alex says:

        I read your article more than once to see if I was mistaken, but there is more than a hint of pointless Marine Corps bashing in there. It changes what was a good summary and valuable critigue of the GAO report into something vaguely unprofessional.

        Wouldn’t have been better, more accutate and more mature to simply say MARPAT is a design 10 years old and the industy has produced more advanced designs since then? I think so. But what we get is the claim, they got “lucky”. Really? I do not come here to get a PX/BX food court level of analysis. Also I find the use of the curse word inappropriate. If this is going to be a professional site then it needs to meet a higher standard.

        As to the idea that we should not let “Coporal/2nd LTs” make all decisions… I completely agree, but neither should we allow those that are so close to the idea of finding the “best” camoflage that we disregard the realities of modern military service. We are a modern, vehicle based and hightech military facing the worse budgets seen since the end of World War 2. We need to be smart with our purchasing plans.

        • Chris says:

          I agree with Alex on this one. I read the article more than once and also got the feeling that SSD has some personal gripe with the Marine Corps. But I get it. The Marine Corps vs. the Army is a tale worse than any crosstown sports rivalry.
          The claim that MARPAT is inferior and that the Army created something way better is understandable from your point of view. The Army has a budget bigger than the Marine Corps. Thus they have more money to waste, yes I said waste, on developing camouflage. Given the Marine Corps budget, MARPAT was the best they could come up with years ago. Rather than throw more money at the research and development the Marine Corps settled for something that worked. This is a fundamental ideological difference between the Army and Marine Corps. If the Army wants something, they will spend grotesque amounts of money for it, whereas the Marine Corps will get what they can get and keep in mind they have other items that need funding too. Ask any soldier who is a former Marine why the joined the Army. It’s because of the money. The Army throws it around. Please don’t read this as me having a bone to pick with the Army, I am simply responding to the attacks made on the Corps in the article you wrote.
          If you want to scream and shout about how some camo uniforms cannot be considered combat oriented, you should first evaluate the level to which the uniforms are held. Stay with me here… The Army freely wears their uniforms out in town whereas the Marine Corps forbids the utilities to be worn. They hold the uniform with more respect and especially more regard to what the uniform is. You wouldn’t wear greasy coveralls around town if you were a car mechanic, so why wear utilities. The Army wears the utilities as a fashion statement. So now the connection can be made that the Army is spending loads of money developing their camo utilities to be worn for fashion.
          The best quote I ever heard from a Marine sums this all up, “We hold ourselves to a higher standard; it has to be that way.”

          • SSD says:


            Please explain the exact phrasing in the article where I said that the Marine Corps was inferior. Then, go on and demonstrate in the article where I am holding a grudge against the Marines. Be careful to keep everything in context.


          • majrod says:

            Chris – How can you say the new pattern isn’t better? Do you have access to the testing data? SSD seems to making an assessment based on the data. What’s yours based on?

            Wasting money? EVERY branch does it. Can you say EFV, F35 and M27?

            You pride yourself on Marine “frugality” and condemn the Army for spending money but then avoid why the Army is spending money. Why?

            What does it say about the Corps that for the first time in our history they fail to share their pattern not once but TWICE especially after five decades of being “frugal” and using Army patterns? Were you not aware? How on one hand do you beat up on the Army for spending money and on another give your branch a pass for not being a team player and helping a branch that has helped yours for 50 years?

            Then you want to portray the article as a Marine hit piece? Hardly, everyone got some. Personally, I think the GAO should have laid out how we got into this mess of eight different gucci camo patterns and how much it’s cost the taxpayers and take it out of EVERY branch’s hide. Let’s man up and acknowledge our own mistakes huh?

  2. C says:

    I’m just glad UCP will be going away. Hopefully the Army actually chooses one of the camouflage family contenders instead of sticking with MultiCam. Same goes for the ICC.

    • SSD says:

      Well, one of the contenders is from Crye and is based on MultiCam. Open to that one if it is the best choice?

      • Bryan says:

        Has anything been confirmed about Crye’s pattern submission or is it all just speculation? With how much has already been invested into Multicam (not only by the DoD also by the gear industry and by individual troops as well) I can’t imagine the difficulty trying to transition the Army to US4CES, Kryptek, or Brookwood’s pattern.

        I agree the Army should go with the best performing camouflage pattern but the cost and practicality of fielding this new camouflage should be considered as well.

        • SSD says:

          What do you mean about Crye’s submission? I’ve seen it and the Army has it.

          • ME says:


            I think he’s alluding to the fact that no one else has seen it, unless it was made public and it didn’t get posted anywhere…

          • Bryan says:

            ME – That is exactly what I’m alluding to.

            SSD – My apologies for my ambiguousness; I falsely assumed that everyone (including you) was in the dark as to what Crye’s submission actually looked like.

            I’ve been hoping that Multicam was the ‘transitional’ coloration of Crye’s entry – adding a woodland and arid coloration with the same pattern as Multicam in Crye’s entry. I’ve got a lot riding on Multicam as my Multicam Kifaru EMR ruck will attest to! Any hints on when you’ll share the pattern with your readers?

      • C says:

        You’ve seen Crye’s camouflage submission?? And if Crye’s submission is the top performer then I’m all for it

        • Strike-Hold! says:

          Not bothered by the fact that MultiCam and variants of it are already in used or has been adopted by about a dozen other countries – and is also used by a large proportion of Coalition special operations units in Afghanistan, and airsofters all over the world?

  3. MEDIC!!! says:

    I have to agree with your statements regarding the AF ABU. A lot of people in the AF are out of touch when it comes to a camouflage pattern and uniform cut to help support down range operations. There are very few in the AF that would even know or care what this article is about. It’s too bad that most don’t care, especially NCO’s and higher command, as the ABU is almost down right un-usable in downrange operations, but most don’t understand that.

    There are excellent companies out there that will produce top quality gear, and uniform items in any other pattern but ABU, and even if it is, it’s more then likely not going to be accepted by AF high command and the uniform police having a pissing party.

    • Riceball says:

      From what I remember reading, when the AF was first developing the ABU they sent prototypes out to their SOC people who then provided feedback to the Brass for areas of improvement. I don’t know how many things they suggested changed/improved but I do know that the AF Brass implemented all of none of their suggestions. It seems to me that if the people who would most benefit from improvements in a uniform design got what they wanted then it should be more than adequate for all of the (pardon the expression) POG types. Not only would you have a more functional uniform your Spec Ops folk who would really benefit from it it would also help to boost morale somewhat if it was let known that your Spec Ops folk had a hand in its design because I don’t a single person in any branch of the military who doesn’t look up to the elite members of their branch of service. Say what you will about MARPAT/MCCU and its effectiveness as a pattern and uniform at least the Marine Brass listened to the feedback from its testers and made improvements to the original design based on that feedback.

      • orly? says:

        “Say what you will about MARPAT/MCCU and its effectiveness as a pattern and uniform at least the Marine Brass listened to the feedback from its testers and made improvements to the original design based on that feedback.”

        The army did that? Right?

        • SSD says:

          The Army has improved the ACU based on user feedback. So has the Air Force with the ABU.

          • Riceball says:

            True, but in the case of the AF, they were slow to do it and did it, in my opinion, rather reluctantly, after many, many complaints. But in the end they still didn’t, to my knowledge, incorporate any of the improvements suggested to by the testers in AFSOC.

      • Jaded says:

        There has never been an ST airman who has ever fielded the ABU. In fact it is seldom ever used(garrison). Definitely never had a hand it’s design. They can come out with a rainbow pattern but it will never affect how one operates.

  4. Will says:

    Well written and passionate SSD. This has been a nightmare from the start. But we were never able to stop it, no matter how hard we tried. It has to do with the egos and the cash. We watched it happen for the past ten years. When the Navy approved that blue digi, I quit. Caleb wins dont know how, but he wins.

    • Riceball says:

      As bad as the Navy’s blue digi camo is at least it serves a purpose and was never intended as a combat uniform but as a dungaree/jumpsuit replace for shipboard wear. Of course the simplest thing would probably have been to issue one of the combat NWUs for all hands wear both on land and on ship. And I still don’t understand why the desert version of the NWU is for NSW use only, makes no sense to me why only SEALs and other NWU should be allowed to wear desert cammies, what about other people in the Navy who might have to work on land in a desert environment, what are they supposed to wear since DCUs are, apparently, not even an option any more?

      • Doc Steel says:

        Do seabees count as NSW? Because I seen plenty of then wearing AOR

        • SSD says:

          Everyone in the Navy who was wearing Woodland uniforms in now wearing the NWU Type III as their standard garrison uniform. There are SeaBees assigned to NSW and deployed with NSW and they will wear the NWU Type II which is a desert variant.

          • Dave smith says:

            Every one in the Navy can now wear Type 2 (AOR1),

          • Dave smith says:

            The CNO is letting everyone water it, so yes if you are going some where that you need to wear a desert pat you can wear it. It is no longer just for NSW. The Type 1 was just to make people on ships feel special, just like everyone in the Army wearing black berets

  5. US Soldier says:


    As I told you before; I think US4CES camo is the uniform the US Army should go with, if they cannot get something similar to MARPAT or NWU type II/III

    You said that the UCP design will remain and that is where I wish they will improve on as well. The rank in the middle is ludicrous and many soldiers here to the our SMA and requested that ranks go back on the color. Also, the combat shirt looks lousy on soldiers compared to the other services that have the zipper style. I have seen Soldiers here in Afghanistan buy the multicam combat shirt in zipper style because it design and fit is much better.

    Velcro needs to get removed and the pockets on the current UCP need to be more inboard or slanted to give a professional look. Also, the mandarin collar needs to be removed and angled so it fits proper.

    If you look at the material of MARPAT and UCP in its regular material (not FRACU); MARPAT is better one. That is why Soldiers like myself (who was a former Marine) think we should get it.

    Wouldn’t it be cost effective to simply adopt theirs than go with a whole new patter which is similar nevertheless? I dont want the Army to lose this opportunity due to budget cuts or one of the competitors not giving a cost effective solution. Meaning if US4CES wins but is too expensive; then they go with that Goose-hunting Kryptek which looks ridiculous in my opinion.

    • SSD says:

      Do you mean the ACU clothing design?

      • US Soldier says:

        Yes SSD in regards to the cut. I am glad that we are finally able to sew on Name Tapes and ranks but I wish they would change it around a bit as I suggest in my previous post. I have many pics with myself and Marines and the overall design of their uniform is superior to UCP and you said that the winner basically will have their pattern just placed on top of the current uniform.

  6. GW Ayers says:

    SSD, Nice work. Great information, and the reason i start my day with this site.

  7. Bob M says:

    The Marine Corps made common sense decisions first in their chosen color schemes, second in utilizing a ground-breaking pattern developed by the Canadians, and third by taking advantage of research made by the US Army and Canadian forces into fractal patterns used in camouflage – but the Marine Corps is just lucky?

    I agree that it’s dumb of the Corps to make a monopoly on MARPAT for the sake of setting Marines apart, visually. That being said, the Army choosing 80s couch colors and the Air Force following suit with their flavor of the month in the name of service individuality doesn’t exactly lend those respective services a blameless resume either.

    Like usual, the Marine Corps doesn’t have the best, it didn’t spend the most in research, and it doesn’t utilize the newest in philosophy, technology, or material, but it has made common sense decisions in taking advantage of what’s already available and relatively inexpensive. Making due with less, and still accomplishing the mission…like usual.

    “The Marine Corps has been lucky. Nothing more.”


    • Bob M says:

      Danged autocorrect…..

    • SSD says:

      Yes, they were lucky. As you said, they didn’t spend a lot of money or put a lot of research into their pattern. You may not realize this but UCP is the same pattern geometry as MARPAT just with different colors. If you say UCP doesn’t work but MARPAT does then it is simply a shading issue. AOR also shares this geometry.

      By all means you are right about the Army and Air Force and I point that out, but don’t don’t fool yourself into thinking that better is perfection.

  8. Lucky says:

    Do you have any idea as to when General Odierno will be making the decision on the final pattern?

    • SSD says:

      PEO Soldier is supposed to be presenting the findings to the Army leadership in late November.

      • Lucky says:

        Damn, That far out? Lol, I was hoping for them to recommend US4CES quick, then fix the IPFU, and did you hear that there was a survey Army wide to gauge if we wanted to ditch the ASU in favor of the WW2 Pinks and Greens!

      • Jason says:

        I had a chance to speak with the SMA recently and asked the specific question about the Army Camoflauge Improvement Effort, mainly to get his reaction as I mostly knew where we are at with it. He stated that it will be relatively cheap to replace the uniforms with a new pattern as they will be replaced as the ACU naturally wears out. He also mentioned getting rid of the mandarin collar (as mine was flipped up at the time he pointed how it happens a lot) and slanting the sleeve pockets about 15 degrees. He said the real cost will be, as we all know, reproducing all of the OCIE in a new pattern. For that he mentioned they were looking at different options such as a dye to still be able to use current UCP OCIE for garrison training and not stand out like a sore thumb. All in all I was very pleased in his response and reaction to my question.

  9. Lcon says:

    Economics are a factor, I suspect part of the reason the Army is cutting a billion off of the new new camo change, is the possibility of cheating and just buying Multicam and it’s derivatives.
    Troops already issued OCP because of deployments would be ahead of the curve in terms of uniforms and PPE. RFE issue gear could be spun up as the starting point for assimilation of the Army into the new pattern.

    The Air force is another matter Although They too could cheat in such a manor I suspect the temptation would be too try and adopt there own new new Vanity pattern possibly by buying one of the dejected army patterns or just buying ATT ( allowing them too keep the Tiger look well blending better and still using Army PPE) They could come up with there own name for it “Airman Tactical Terrain pattern”.

    I have read rumors of the Navy wanting too cut the type I from issue as a cost cutting measure. I could never understand the NWU type II ( SSD’s Bad the NWUIII is “Woodland colors” and issued too all land Sailors NWUII is “Desert” and NSW only) not being issued service wide I mean really? I though the seals wanted too dress too blend in not stand out why give them a Vanity pattern it’s counter intuitive for the “Quiet pros” image they are trying too project. Where as issuing Desert pattern fleet wide makes more sense both financially from a practicality stand point.
    If the Seals or SOCOM Wanted a “SOCPAT” There are plenty of Commercial patterns available or just asked Crye or Blackhawk or Hyperstealth would love the bragging rights of such a uniform.

    The Marines designed there pattern with Scout snipers in mind, With Camouflage not image. It’s a base and battle uniform that’s why they never allow them too be worn off base.Other then the Eagle globe and anchor USMC vanity points in the pattern. MARPAT was designed too meat a mision aim not a recruiting aim. it’s not meant too be a Marine advertising campaign. It’s meant for kicking ass.That is why they got it as close too right as they did they kept that thought in mind.

    • SSD says:

      That only works if you believe that they Army has already made a decision to adopt MultiCam variants. I do not believe that is the case.

      Chances are very good that the Air Force will go the same way as the Army. CSAF Gen Jumper wanted a distinctive Air Force uniform after he was called a Soldier. He has retired and the Air Force has realized that it is in their Airmen’s best interest to blend in with the Army.

      The NWU Type II is a desert variant and the Type III is a woodland version. They are based on NSW’s AOR 1&2 patterns respectively. This has been written about repeatedly here on SSD and that is what this article states as well.

      It’s SEAL not Seal.

      SOCOM doesn’t need a new pattern.

      As per the direction of Gen Jones who was CMC at the time, the MCCUU and its associated MARPAT was developed specifically to identify Marines. He wanted them in a distinctive uniform. It was not developed for the Scout Sniper community. It was developed for the Marine Corps.

      • Riceball says:

        “It’s SEAL not Seal.”

        Thank you! I don’t know how often I see that and how sick I am of seeing it too. You’d think that anyone who visits a military blog would know the difference between Seal and SEAL.

        While we’re on spelling, Lcon; to is a verb as in to go, to do, etc.
        Too is quantitative as in too much, too far, etc.

        As for MARPATs not being allowed to be worn off base, that’s always been Marine Corps policy, even back in the old BDU days and not something that was enacted with the adoption of the MCCUU. I personally always suspected that the Corps doesn’t allow cammies out in town because the Army does, just like we blouse our pants over our boots and don’t tuck them in, and how we (used to) roll our sleeves differently, I think it was just to be different from the Army.

        • SSD says:

          I agree with the Corps’ decision to restrict wear of the utility off base. I cringe every time I see a Soldier or Airman traveling CONUS in ACUs/ABUs who are not enroute to/from theater. It just presents bad image.

  10. Aaron says:

    Eric…Sweet Sweet Sweet rant, great opinion piece I have to say.

  11. straps says:

    Not entirely sure that the other services’ slavish devotion to the concept of using a camo pattern as a service branding statement can be said to be the “fault” of the Marines. Army has nobody but itself to blame for UCP, Air Force and Navy have nobody but themselves to blame for their respective debacles.

    There seems to be a LOT of confusion (if not subterfuge) around the purported IP rights the Marines may or may not have over their pattern, with or without the EGA.

    Funny thing, my read of this report could be seen to legitimize a declaration from Congress that EVERYONE (‘cept maybe the Marines) go with the Army CIP winner–A DECLARATION THAT WILL BE MUCH EASIER TO EXECUTE IF THEY GET IT RIGHT.

    Still-STILL waiting on a peek at the Crye entry. Man, those guys have good OPSEC.

  12. Strike-Hold! says:

    Gosh – where / how to wade in on this one….

    First of all, the Marine Corps did “get lucky” in that they produced a set of patterns that work reasonably well for their respective intended environments. Yes, they did follow a better procedure than the Army or the Air Force did when they came up with UCP and Digital Tiger Stripe respectively. But they were “lucky” in that the Canadians allowed them to copy the pattern geometry of CADPAT, and replace the colors with ones that are very close to the ones that had been used on the old Woodland camouflage BDUs and desert camouflaged DCUs.

    And they also “got lucky” by being the first US service branch to introduce a new camouflage pattern and a new field/utility uniform. So, they grabbed the “first mover advantage” and got lots of of great PR – with a lot of people even thinking that the USMC had invented the digital camouflage pattern design too.

    Is the USMC also to “blame” for setting the trend of each service wanting a distinctive-looking pattern and uniform? Well, it was the clearly stated objective of Gen. Jones to have a unique uniform for the USMC – and he got away with it. So, from then on the other service chiefs felt that their egos needed gratifying too, and then it became a game of keeping up with the Jones’s (literally). To place ALL the blame on the USMC would be wrong – and I don’t think its what Eric intended. ALL of the respective service chiefs at the time are to blame for this stupid mess.

    To quote from the report: “The services’ fragmented approaches to uniform development began with the Marine Corps in 2002 and continued for other services until the Navy was the last service to replace the BDU in 2011 with camouflage uniforms developed for naval special forces. During our review, we found that the services collectively have spent approximately $12.5 million for uniform development since 2000 or an average of $2.1 million for each of the six development programs that we reviewed.”

    On another note, regarding the restricted use of NWU Type II (aka, AOR1), the report clarifies that too: “In hearings before the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support in April 2010, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps testified that Marine Corps and Navy discussions prompted the Navy’s policy to restrict the use of its Type II desert combat uniform. When the Marine Corps first learned that the new Navy uniform looked very similar to the Marine Corps’ combat uniform, the Assistant Commandant testified, the Marine Corps suggested the selection of a Navy pattern that was different enough to distinguish it from the uniform worn by the Marines. However, the Assistant Commandant testified, the Marine Corps Commandant and the Chief of Naval Operations later reached an agreement that forward-deployed Navy SEALS and similar personnel could use the Type II desert uniform. The effect of the agreement, however, is that it does not allow other Navy ground support units to wear the Type II uniform.”

    Now, doesn’t that sound like a case of ego, politics and back-room deals taking precedence over operational needs, and troop safety?

    • majrod says:

      Well said…

    • straps says:

      Epic. Thanks.

    • Riceball says:

      Very sad but true. It makes me, as a former Marine, to know that the Corps was in part to blame for this whole service unique camo uniform business. It really gets me that they would compound matters by complaining that AOR 1 looked too much like desert MARPAT so only SEALs and other NSW and NSW support sailors could wear NWU II. I always wondered about that exclusion and after reading this report it all makes sense.

  13. Nerdofstuff says:

    The pattern that is scientifically declare the best by a good margin from the Army’s CIP would be fine with me. My personal preferences though makes me like the US4CES the best even though I haven’t seen what crye has offered (I am assuming it is derivative of multicam). It has a clean and professorial look along with a proven pixalated digital design and a innovative OICE idea. The other contenders from brookwoods and Kryptic are silly in my IMO. Watercolored camo and reptilian camo. LOL!

    Now lets talk about the Marines. The Marines were smart in adopting a new proven camouflage design at the time. What they F*CKED up in was not sharing it with the other branches and declaring it as their own super unique camo. All they did was pretty much make a recolored version of CADPAT.

    It would be cool to see the AF adopt the same pattern as the Army. That would be a sign of good progress.

    In the end of day. The Army will become the leader in camouflage compared to the other branches and countries. They will have a treasure trove of knowledge on all spectrum of concealment and camouflage.

  14. Camo Overload says:

    I read this article and it seems to me that soldier systems praised everyone on some level and was critical of everyone on some level. That seems pretty fair to me. Except for GAO. He didn’t seem to praise them at all.

  15. Alex says:

    What we need is another “Robert McNamara” Type to force the different services to adopt the same uniforms and equipment across the board.

    If a unit or service wants to have a distinctive uniform look let them wear a unique patch/badge or uniform hat/cover.

    • majrod says:


    • MannyF says:

      I don’t think we should have service specific camouflage nor separate uniforms for special types. All our forces should be outfitted with the same combat uniform pattern. It should also be a pattern not in use by any other country’s forces. I don’t have a problem with special types fielding new advanced designs for testing or for specific mission needs, but back at camp/post/base, wear the official uniform.

      If the services want to play pageant show, we already have distinct uniforms, i.e. service dress.

      • Greg says:

        Like many of our camo uniforms from the past, the new ones will also “overtime” end up in the hands of other militaries. Like one in Central/South America, Asia, Oceania and what not.

  16. Vince says:

    We should be punished like the Canadians were in the 70s and 80s with the same green Canadian Forces uniform until we get our collective shit together. This started as the creep started changing the grease the amtracs/APCs uniform into the uniform of the day-service uniform.

    The woodland BDU uniform wasn’t bad. Wasn’t great, but wasn’t bad. It was much better than the sateen OG-107 utilities/fatigues and the Army/AF/Seabee replacement in perma press.

    We DID get much better boots out of the deal, seeing as how the black speed lace boots were getting destroyed and losing their water repellent qualities because troops were forced to use wax show polish which gradually displaced the silicon in the boots.

    That we are going to spend so much on something which should have been so much easier is pretty embarrassing.

  17. wr57 says:

    Really not a fan of the combat pants. Trap heat and I can’t run in them to save my life. FRACU trousers need to stay around.

  18. Jim says:

    From the ground level, I just hope that Multicam becomes the standard. I’ve been issued and I’ve personally purchased piles of MC/OCP gear and uniforms for use in Afghanistan. I have name tapes and patches for many uniform sets. If the Army decided to switch tomorrow to MC for garrison use, I’d be able to show up in a full, clean uniform in the morning without spending a dime. RFI items could just get stuck onto permanent hand receipts and warehouses full of IOTVs and such could just get handed over to CIF.

    I know bureaucratically this might not be as easy, but doesn’t it just make sense!?