B5 Systems

US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort – Don’t Hold Your Breath

Awhile back, I got word that the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable John McHugh was going to give the US Army a very welcome birthday present on June 14th, in the form of an announcement of the selection of a new family of camouflage patterns for our Soldiers. I now believe this is not the case.

The first thing that led me to believe that this was not going to actually happen was that the Army still has not notified the contenders of whether or not they were selected. The Army would have needed to do this by the beginning of June, at the very latest, to give the companies time to receive their technical outbriefs and lodge a protest if they felt that the selection was unfair. That didn’t happen. The Secretary still could have announced, but he may have ended up with egg on his face had a protest action been substantiated.

The second thing, or should I say things, that clued me in to the announcement being stalled once again, were sources. Reliable sources (plural) contacted me over the past week and told me that the Army was going to delay the announcement for new camouflage. Some said until next fiscal year, and others mentioned AUSA time frame (both in October).

Now some of you are going to say that the Army’s delay is due to the Enyart Amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act but that’s not it. In fact, the delay is in spite of it. If anything, it should have lit a fire under the Army. For those of you that were off planet last week, the Enyart Amendment was introduced as an amendment to HR 1960 by Rep William Enyart (D-IL) who happens to also be a Retired Major General and former State Adjutant General of the Illinois Army National Guard. In a nutshell, it requires all US military services to adopt a common camouflage uniform by 2018. At the time, I opposed the notion that Congress should tell the military how to dress. But if the Army has in fact, delayed the announcement of their selection and subsequent fielding, then I was wrong. It looks like the Army’s leadership is letting its troops down and Congress needs to step in and force them to reprioritize. The top priority should be the Soldier.

The reason I was given for the delay in announcement is laughable. Once again, this comes from sources (plural). I am told that the Army does not want to face negative perception by starting a new acquisition during sequestration. Seriously. That’s what I was told. Apparently, Congressional interest in camouflage isn’t enough. Apparently, negative press from the main stream media for issuing an ineffective camouflage pattern isn’t enough. Apparently, wasting money by continuing to purchase camouflage it will have to replace after the announcement isn’t enough. And apparently, disgruntled troops who have to deploy in the poorly named Universal Camouflage Pattern isn’t enough. Negative perception they’ve got. What the Army needs is some positive perception. And they aren’t going to get that by wasting money and continuing to place their most precious asset; the Soldier, at risk.

I ignored the recent media blitz by the main stream media because I knew that the Army was working to correct the problem and field a real solution. And, with a 14 June announcement, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Now it seems like that light of hope has been extinguished. The Army has acknowledged that UCP is ineffective. Yet, it will continue to purchase, field and use it for the foreseeable future. Last time I checked, inaction was not a course of action.

While the final decision and announcement sits with the Office of the Secretary of the Army, I’m not giving GEN Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army or SMA Raymond F. Chandler III a free pass. The Honorable Mr McHugh is a civilian political appointee. He just isn’t going to have the connection to the troops that they do, or the same moral imperative to do right by them. I know the CSA and SMA are good men and are the Army’s true leaders. They should show some leadership and get this taken care of. Morale is sinking. Showing some interest in the Soldier by fixing the uniform is a great way to show them that they matter. The Army uniform identifies a Soldier on multiple levels. It gives the Soldier his own connection to the Army and it displays who he is to everyone else. And, it can make a serious difference where it really matters. A proper camouflage will him more effective on the battlefield.

I realize that this decision is budget driven but there’s more to running an Army than dollar signs. Even then, this delay is pound foolish. The longer the Army delays, the more it buys what it doesn’t need.

I did try to reach the Secretary of the Army’s Public Affairs Office prior to writing this story and actually held off publishing it in the hopes that they would come through and return my calls. They didn’t. In what seems to be status quo for this Administration, regardless of department, the Secretary of the Army ignores requests for information, no matter who asks. I get it. If Congress can’t get subpoenaed documents and witnesses plead the 5th Amendment, why should I expect them to talk to me?

We all may wake up on Friday morning to Christmas in July. A day filled with unicorns and rainbows, and the announcement of a new family of effective camouflage patterns for the US Army. But then again, don’t hold your breath.

108 Responses to “US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort – Don’t Hold Your Breath”

  1. 10thmountainvet says:

    I bet SSD doesn’t really know…

  2. MattF says:

    FT. BELVOIR (14 June 2013) Following extensive testing of vendor-submitted camouflage patterns, the Army announced today that the Camouflage Improvement Effort (CIE) competition will formally conclude without the selection of a winner. None of the camouflage patterns evaluated during the Phase IV testing phase of the competition met the minimum scoring requirements needed to satisfy the requirements of the CIE.
    In lieu of a new competition for a new family of camouflage patterns, the Army will continue fielding and equipping Soldiers with the uniforms and Operational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) in the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), which consistently performs well in the NIR spectrum and has been proven in combat operations since its fielding in 2004. Given limited fiscal resources, the Army’s decision would free CIE funding to address other high priority Army needs and align Army Combat Uniform requirements with those of its sister services within the Department of Defense. This decision is also consistent with recent direction given by the House Armed Services Committee proposed Requirement to Establish Policy on Joint Combat Uniforms” which recommends the abolition of service specific camouflage patterns. The CIE program consisted of a four-phased competitive strategy to determine whether industry could provide a best-value, improved alternative to the UCP. Phase I began in Fall, 2009 and consisted of end user evaluations of the in-service UCP, modified UCP, and a commercial camouflage pattern in the Afghanistan theatre of operations. Feedback was taken from the end users based on their experiences with the camouflage patterns regarding their effectiveness at reducing visual and NIR signatures within the operating environment. Concurrently, Phase II was conducted in Afghanistan in October 2009 to obtain photos and information with maximum practicality in order to develop a photo-simulation study comparing the various camouflage pattern performance in the Afghanistan theatre of operations. The photo-simulation study was administered to soldiers who had recently served in Afghanistan. The soldiers’ input was objective and subjective, comparing detectability (the range at which the soldiers could detect the uniform), blendability and blending order. Based on an analysis of Phase I and II data, the Army evaluated whether to produce and field alternate uniforms and OCIE to selected units in specific regions of OEF or to all units in the operation. In February 2010, Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced that the Army would provide combat uniforms in the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) to all soldiers deploying to OEF-Afghanistan. Phase IV of the CIE’s primary focus was the evaluation of long-term Army Combat Uniform camouflage options for all soldiers. The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command was assigned to develop a performance-based requirement for future uniform and OCIE camouflage. On June 29, 2010, the army released a Sources Sought notice inviting companies to submit candidates for a family of three camouflage patterns — woodland, desert and transitional — and one pattern for OCIE blending with all three patterns. “Family” is defined as “of the same or similar geometry with coordinating color palettes to cross the global operating environments”. This family of patterns was intended to enable the Army to issue the transitional pattern to all soldiers, while issuing the woodland and desert patterns to those operating in those environments. The evaluation methods used earlier (both photosimulation and field testing) was applied to the candidate patterns as well, underscoring the validity and utility of the Phase II effort. At the conclusion of Phase IV testing and evaluation, however, no competitor demonstrated a significant improvement in signature reduction which met the CIE requirements. Consistent with the program’s search for superior capability, the test for signature reduction was exceptionally rigorous and exceeded performance experienced in a typical operational environment. The Army’s decision not to pursue a new CIE was reached following careful consideration of the Army’s operational requirements in the context of the available signature reduction technology, the constrained fiscal environment, and the direction mandated by the House Armed Services Committee regarding abolition of service unique camouflage patterns. The Army remains committed to the development of signature reduction efforts that support soldier modernization.

    • AirborneLTW says:

      I call trolling.

      “Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), which consistently performs well”

  3. Dave says:

    Complete garbage! ACU is garbage! We already have put tons on money into the Afghan camouflage, why not use that which has proven to work and has different shades to make the “Camouflage Family”. Or really save some money and go to OD Green with certain apparel cut or pocket placement “No more velcro!” Look at how long Israel has been using just green in a semi desert/urban/wooded terrain! Just embarrassing.

  4. Stone06 says:

    Holy Crap! Will people quit asking SSD to reveal the winner. We all come here because SSD releases good, reliable, and current info about gear. He has quality information due to good working relationships with manufactures etc. Do you really think this site would last much longer if he just shat on his established reputation in the industry?

    In regards to no announcement from the Army, it sucks. On to new business.

  5. AirborneLTW says:

    No announcement because Army “Leadership” is weak.

  6. […] up this week was Soldier Systems Daily reporting that, contrary to the rumor that was generally agreed to be true, the Secretary of the […]

  7. RedAce says:

    More people will die unnecessarily because of the ACUs. We need better camo, ASAP.