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What To Do With Billions Of Dollars Worth Of UCP TA-50? – UPDATED

UPDATE – And it’s cancelled. This is becoming comical.


I’ve written several articles about the US Army’s impending change from the ill-named Universal Camouflage Pattern to the newly renamed Operational Camouflage Pattern also known commercially as MultiCam by Crye Precision. I’ve even mentioned a plan to repurpose current stocks of UCP equipment such as MOLLE and IOTV covers to a new, more usable colorway. But how do you change the colors of billions of Dollars worth of equipment? The answer is simple; you dye it. Think of it as a means to cut their losses.

Earlier this year I began to hear reports that the Army had been working with a commercial vendor to develop a process to over dye UCP equipment with a shade of Brown in order to make it more compatible with OCP. Naturally, there are issues afoot here. For example, different materials are going to absorb the dye at different rates, and equipment exhibiting differing levels of wear will also absorb dye differently. In the end, it’s going to look rather interesting. It isn’t going to blend in so much as not clash, like traditional UCP would against OCP. Best case, it may end up somewhat resembling the brown-based UCP-Delta pattern tested in Afghanistan in 2009. Worst case? I shudder to imagine.


Specifically, the Army has issued a Sources Sought Notice. Interested parties have until 20 December, 2013 to respond. The link to the notice is

Subject: Request for Information to Over-dye Nylon Fabrics and Items

Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment (PM-SPIE) of the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, Fort Belvoir, VA 22060 is seeking information from potential industry partners to provide a technology solution to modify the camouflage pattern on current equipment. The potential development effort is to over-dye items and/or fabric comprised of nylon 500D and 1000D. Specific items include the Modular Lightweight Load carrying Equipment (MOLLE) and Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV). Items are treated with water repellant, polyurethane, and fire retardant on some equipment. The objective is to modify the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) to more closely match the shade/color of Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP). Of particular interest are portable technologies that can be utilized outside of the manufacturing environment.

Where will it be used? Your guess is as good a mine. Assuredly, it will be issued to the training base so anyone who attends BCT, AIT, Ranger School or any other resident school that issues TA-50 will see this stuff for years to come. Incidentally, TA-50 gets its name from Common Table of Allowances 50-900, Clothing and Individual Equipment which authorizes items for issue based on duty position, unit of assignment or climatic zone. Some of these over duded items may also end up in the reserve components but there has already been some pushback from National Guard commanders who refuse to be looked at as a second class force with second class equipment after being so active over the past 12 years in the war effort. But, over time we will see attrition and replacement of this over dyed UCP. And, I want to mention that the most recent MOLLE contract was only for OCP and the Army has stopped purchasing MOLLE in UCP.

Some have pointed to recent articles published by the press regarding statements by Army spokesmen to suggest that my evidence that the Army is marching ahead with the camouflage change is incorrect. If so, why would the PEO Soldier put out a call to industry just this past week looking for firms that are capable of over dyeing TA-50 if they weren’t still planning to make the camouflage switch?

59 Responses to “What To Do With Billions Of Dollars Worth Of UCP TA-50? – UPDATED”

  1. bulldog76 says:

    i has a feeling more snafus are coming

  2. Darkstar says:

    Agreed bulldog.

    Either they’ll give it to trainees, Or they’ll hand it over to the AF. We still had woodland otv’s for training when I was at training at Maxwell AFB.

  3. JaegerSchnitzel says:

    And we wonder why this country is TRILLIONS of dollars in debt and why the government should minimize its involvement in everything.

    Please- tell me who authorized the ACU pattern. I am dying to know. Someone put their name on it. It wasn’t some self-generating purchase order. Yes, defense spending may be a moderate contributor to our debt compared to entitlements, but this is unbelievable!

    Then… much money has been wasted by numerous firearms manufacturers on the “Improved Carbine” boondoggle?

  4. Steven S says:

    If done right, the color will resemble the mean average and brightness of OCP. Even better yet, have it a little lighter than the average to counteract the shadows of equipment.

    • Steven S says:

      *If done right, the product will resemble the mean average color and brightness of OCP.*

    • mcs says:

      Well, adding in the brown channel there is going to darken the pattern and shift it browner, away for the weird green-grays of the usual UCP.

  5. Daniel says:

    We had to due a 100% inventory of OCIE items a week ago.

  6. Timmay says:

    This ought to get monday off to a good start, and let’s remember as long as we maintain a good pulse pressure we can call it “cardio”.

  7. CIMG says:

    Give it to the LEOs with their free MRAPS, the New BLACK is UCP!! or give it to the Afgani’s instead of FMS dollars.

    • badjujuu says:

      I’m with you on that!

    • Bman says:

      I actually see that happening as most agencies would love cheaper ways to equip officers with armor capable of defeating rifle rounds. Every officer that I know that isn’t on the SWAT team with my agency that has level 3+ armor bought their own carrier and plates, pouches and other items for it. We have even had to buy any breaching items we feel might be needed in an active shooter situation.

    • m5 says:

      *Multicam is the new Black!* (just soak your existing Multicam kit in black dye)

      and, amazingly, now we also have

      *UCP is the new Multicam!* (just soak your UCP kit in brown dye)

      Finally, the US Army is just about to come up with a solution for both the camouflage improvement program *and* the logistic impossibility of issuing environment specific camo rather than just ‘universal’ or ‘multi’ for all.

      *DYE* Just issue a set of dyes!

  8. Peter Payne says:

    I think they should sell the uniforms and equipment as surplus, that would actually get them more money than they’d spend with this. Putting a little brown on the pattern isn’t going to help anything. Like another gentleman poiinted out, I sense a screw up coming also.

    • SSD says:

      So you know, funds received from the sale of surplus equipment goes to the general fund and not back into the individual services let alone to DoD. Selling UCP OCIE off would result in Soldiers with NO equipment.

  9. 32sbct says:

    Actually, this is not the worst idea in the world. But it is not very practical either. I am in the Reserves and we keep all of our OCIE at home. We would have to bring all that equipment in, get it dyed (somehow), get it back, and reissue everything. That would take months and during that time training would be very limited. It would not be impossible, but it would sure be a real pain. However, if they had a mobile dyeing unit come to our location and knock it out in one weekend, that could work but it won’t be a 100 % solution. How do we catch all the Soldiers attending schools, those who don’t show up, etc.

    Although it would look pretty bad I would advocate leaving some items as they are until they wear out. For example, ponchos, poncho liners, wet weather gear, cold weather parkas, etc. They are not looking to re-dye these anyway and since we are pretty much winding down large scale deployments to war zones we could live with this for some period of time.

    Also, I did not hear all of this concern when we switched from BDU/woodland to UCP. What happened to all that equipment? Nobody cared. Changeovers happen and all the old gear goes to surplus. This time is no different than 2005. The only difference is that UCP went through seven years of war in Iraq and four years of Afghanistan, so much of it was used hard, not wasted.

    • Steven S says:

      Exactly, it’s not a very practical idea. To get all of the equipment dyed and have it near the same shade as everyone else is difficult. It’s a lot of variables to consider. Type of material, time soaked, how much dye, temperature of the water, etc.

      However, they don’t need to have that level of product control. This stuff will be used in training so you don’t have to worry too much on either performance or looks.

    • SSD says:

      It is different now. DoD is facing a $52 Billion funding shortfall this year alone.

    • badjujuu says:

      I can get whole Company done over one IDT – have the dunk tanks lined up and ready – followed up with dryers. Now everyon strip your OCIE with anything UCP and get in line, one by one you will dump your gear into the tanks, stir take and leave to dry……..see you next drill

      • pbr549 says:

        Can you get 100% of your company there for an IDT/BA Weekend with 100% of their issue OCIE?

        • SSD says:

          Is that a rhetorical question?

        • badjujuu says:

          When it comes to 100% OCIE – Yes I can, we have a really good Supply Discipline when it comes to issued gear.
          In regards to the individual Soldier – life happens and I understand that not 100% Soldier would be able to attend the IDT – which in my mind those Soldiers could be split and sent another time to other Units to accomplish the given task during their IDT.

          One issue that would appear is items of Gore-Tex nature such as; Bivy Cover, Gore-Tex top and bottom and of course Poncho. Those would probably have to be replaced since dying them would most likely be unsuccessful.

          anyway….I am so ahead of myself…….

  10. This Gentleman says:

    Wasnt the plan to do a soft issue (cant remember the exact lingo) of OCP and phase out UCP? Cant we just stick with that? Seemed like the least complicated choice after all the over-the-top, complex ideas that landed us in this debacle in the first place.

    Just hand UCP kit down to ROTCs, BCTs, foreign militaries, and/or let it wear out until its gone. Dying it just seems about as productive as putting makeup on a pig.

  11. Jim says:

    Couldn’t it be issued to OPFOR role players?

  12. zach says:

    I like how the guy in the picture is standing at parade attention

  13. Steven S says:

    “Worst case? I shudder to imagine.”

    • SSD says:

      Could you give us some context for that photo?

    • JBAR says:

      Looks alright to me.

    • Timmay says:

      In certain areas that would work, southern sand-hills and coastal plains, better than standard UCP anyways.

      It’s gonna be a goat-rope any way you look at it. Might be better off buying a few hundred tons of Rit and doing it all at once, gonna look like shit but at least it would be uniformly shitty.

    • SGT Rock says:

      Wow. That looks pretty damn horrible.

  14. JBAR says:

    I see this as a win. It is not perfect, but it is a lot better than staying the same. Why argue that?

  15. Woody says:

    The pattern worn by the individual in the picture looks a lot like the Dr Pepper camo pattern you could unlock with a code from bottles of Dr Pepper for Battlefield 3, when it first came out.

  16. JEFF says:

    Wow, what a waste of time/money to even put that on FBO.

    • SSD says:

      They were following the acquisition process. As I understand it, the capability already exists that the Army plans to use. There are other ways to get what they want. Perhaps it will be acquired obliquely, like through an OCIE maintenance contract which will also result in over dyed TA-50.

  17. SteveB says:


  18. N/A says:

    They should give it all to Civil Air Patrol. It’s probably the only organization that could use a camo pattern that doesn’t actually work.

  19. Angry Misha says:

    Sooooo… a “Sources Sought” was released on Friday @9:08am and cancelled today @ 9:39am.

    Things are getting “curiouser and curiouser”.

    It’s no small feet to draft and release a Sources Sought, methinks the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing and just smacked the left for its transgression.

    Just authorize the flipping pattern in a 50/50 NYCO uniform, Joe will line up at clothing sales to buy it JUST like they did for the original ACU (thats what a “Clothing Allowance” is for). Make the wear out date for the active forces 1 October 2015 and 1 October 2016 for the Guard and Reserves. Continue to issue OCP gear to deployers and replace the rest via attrition. Heck, Joe will probably buy all their kit from industry if not already issued.

    Why is always soooooo hard?

    No one cared when non deployers were running around in a mish mash of woodland, desert and UCP before

  20. Paralus says:

    Could be worse. They could have issued a request for one million permanent markers and have soldiers start coloring in the pixels.

  21. Joe says:

    Dip in color remover, dip in Tan 499, done.

    And “take time from…” whatever.

    I thought dumping hours into maintaining jump boots with a mirror finish was ridiculous vs. practical soldiering skills, but I made it happen.

    Dying TA-50 will take markedly less time, effort, and attention to detail.

  22. Frank says:

    The solution is, there is no solution. Its a big shit sandwich and we all (as taxpayers) got to take a bite. Maybe Kerry can talk the Iranians into buying it all?

  23. Dont Lead Em So Much says:

    I am not joking when I say this… I predicted this would happen, about 3 years ago. And, of course, no one beleived me. But, if it happens, it will be hillarious (in a bad way).

  24. DDP says:

    I don’t know what camouflage pattern the guy’s boots are made in, but I think it’s a serious oversight it wasn’t included in the competition given it’s effectiveness.

  25. majrod says:

    “UPDATE – And it’s cancelled. This is becoming comical.”


    That train left L O N G ago.

  26. GreenTip556 says:

    Break break break…..
    You mean to tell me the Army would put out confusing misinformation to muddy the waters of a massive boondoggle? Great Dragonskin batman! Next your going to tell me the OICW program was…oh…wait….nevermind….