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US Army Considers 3 COAs for Camo Replacement

A lot of info has been swirling around the internet over the past week regarding the US Army’s unending quest to find a new camouflage pattern. As crazy as some of it might sound, none of it is exactly wrong. But nothing you’ve read so far tells the complete story. I’ve written at length about the history of the Army’s Camouflage Improvement Effort that began five years ago after members of Congress asked the Army about the combat effectiveness of the Universal Camouflage Pattern adopted in 2004. Here is a Reader’s Digest version of the chain of events. Initially, the Army adopted the commercial MultiCam Pattern from Crye Precision for use in Afghanistan in 2010. This led to the Phase IV effort that investigated around 20 commercial families of camouflage patterns with different colorways for Transitional, Woodland, Arid and an optional fourth version for use with Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment. These candidates were investigated against a baseline consisting of legacy camouflage patterns such as Marine Patterns (MARPAT) and the Navy AOR patterns. After an initial picture-in-picture trial to cull the herd to the most promising options, four companies were awarded contracts to provide printed fabric for field trials; ADS inc with Guy Cramer, Brookwood, Crye Precision and Kryptek.

After several delays in announcing the results of this multi-year effort, the Army abruptly stopped talking about Phase IV and quietly began discussing expanding the use of OCP for the entire Army, even going so far as to change the military name from Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern to a more generic Operational Camouflage Pattern. However, negotiations with Crye Precision apparently didn’t work out as the Army had expected and their soft launch plan was put on hold.

I’ve blasted the Army in the past for not taking action regarding their quest for camouflage. Now, they’ve taken action. Unfortunately, it sounds like a broken record. There are reports that the Army will announce something in April but I believe if they even bother it will be an announcement of their new strategy that includes a new round of testing that begins next week. Results of this new testing won’t be available until the end of the fiscal year, if then.

PEO Soldier has been briefing the following Courses of Action:

1. Continue to negotiate with Crye Precision for a full license to use the MultiCam pattern as the Operational Camouflage Pattern. This license would also allow the Army to adapt MultiCam to create bookend patterns for Woodland and Arid environments. So far, this isn’t going well.

2. Adopt the Scorpion camouflage pattern along with bookend patterns for Woodland and Arid environments. Scorpion is a predecessor of MultiCam, developed for the Objective Force Warrior program. Occasionally, the Army’s Natick Labs, in charge of development of Soldier Systems gear, pulls Scorpion out and does some work on it. Although it differs slightly from MultiCam, over the years it has been tested against MultiCam and bookend variants have been developed. Considering Scorpion is even older than MultiCam, this would probably pass the NDAA sniff test as a legacy pattern.

3. Test and adopt a Digital Transitional Pattern with legacy bookend patterns from the MARPAT or AOR families. This is the one you’ve been hearing about in the news. Testing will be limited to NATO or picture-in-picture testing where Soldiers are shown a digital photo of a pattern inserted electronically into a photo of a natural environment and the Soldier is measured to see how long it takes to detect the pattern. Considering that all of the Phase IV finalists outperformed both AOR and MARPAT in picture-in-picture testing, it sounds like the Army is swinging for the fence of mediocrity. Additionally, the newly created DTP, whether created from Crye’s MultiCam or the Army’s Scorpion, will be a new pattern. According to federal law, all four services must adopt it for the Army to have its way.

2014 NDAA – The Elephant In The Room
Last year, Congress enacted a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that was intended to streamline the development of all of these service specific patterns. Had the Army stuck with its original schedule, the NDAA wouldn’t have been an issue. But they didn’t. Now, they have to deal with the consequences of their inaction.

This is what the law says about new camouflage patterns.

(b) PROHIBITION.—Except as provided in subsection

(c), after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of a military department may not adopt any new camouflage pattern design or uniform fabric for any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for use by an Armed Force, unless—
(1) the new design or fabric is a combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms that will be adopted by all Armed Forces; (emphasis added)

Call me skeptical, but I’m not sure the Army is going to talk all of the services into adopting this new shake and bake pixelated transitional pattern (DTP). Otherwise, they violate the NDAA.

Echos of UCP?

“It’s déjà vu all over again”.
-Yogi Berra

I can only think of the great Yogi Berra’s quote when I consider what the Army is up to. Just 10 years ago it adopted the so-called Universal Camouflage Pattern just as it had concluded an extensive camouflage study. Ignoring all of the work that had been done, UCP came seemingly out of nowhere, combining features from different patterns, it became more of a fashion decision than an operational one. Sound familiar? Now, right on the heels of the most extensive camouflage study in history, the Army throws out all of the data and creates its own pattern based on other patterns that performed well in testing.

This time it’s worse for two fundamental reason. First, they should know better as they were raked over the coals just last year over the adoption of UCP and the “$5 Billion SNAFU”. Seems like SNAFU was more appropriate than I had originally thought. Second, such an action by the Army has the effect of Big Government hurting a small business.

Sure, they’re testing it. But it’s the computer based, NATO testing, and not full field trials like Phase IV.

The Licensing Fee
The point of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Effort was to do exactly what the name of the project says. From the outset, PEO Soldier said that the Army would allow the science to guide the process. Somehow that notion went out the window sometime over the past two years and money has become the central issue.

According to Army sources, and printed by both and Army Times, Crye Precision is seeking $24.8 Million from the Army to license the MultiCam pattern. As I understand it, this is an incorrect number, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the Army has the audacity to quibble over $24 Million. The amount of money spent by the Army on camouflage is staggering. What’s worse, all the while that they continue to tap dance, the Army continues to purchase clothing and equipment in both the UCP and OCP camouflage. Years ago, the Army admitted that UCP was ineffective yet they continue to spend money on it. Who wants to bet that they won’t spend in excess of $24 Million between now and September on UCP?

Considering the new round of testing is going to cost even more money after they just completed testing of commercial patterns that cost in excess of $20 Million, it’s now bordering on the criminal. One interesting point. When the Army talks about what a project like this costs they only consider travel and procurement costs. Since their employees are paid no matter what they do, they don’t include those wage costs in the total like a commercial company would. This means that they grossly under report costs.

The next thing you are going to hear from these guys is how they are trying to be good stewards of the tax payers money. They spent well in excess of $5 Billion on UCP (some estimate that across DoD, almost $10 Billion was spent on UCP since 2004). Since adopting OCP in 2010, DoD has spent well over $1 Billion on clothing and OCIE. Now, they are seriously considering adopting yet another pattern. I don’t see how the capital investment in an entirely new family of camouflage is working in my best interest as a tax payer or for that matter, in the Army’s, who has other modernization requirements. Government watch dogs are also going to start to add up all of the money the Army has spent and question why they didn’t just buy what their own testing has already shown to be effective. After all of the money the Army has spent, even $24.8 Million sounds like a bargain to me.

In the long run, it will be Big Army vs small business man. In the court of public opinion this won’t end well for the Army or for those decision makes pushing this within the Army.

From a fiscal standpoint, there is only one option. Adopt MultiCam as OCP as standard issue for the US Army.

Perception Is Reality
All along, I’ve maintained that camouflage is as much as function of branding as operational effectiveness. The British military recognized this when they contracted Crye Precision to create a variant of MulticCam called Multi Terrain Pattern as their national camouflage pattern. The Marine Corps knows this as well, creating MARPAT as a means to identify themselves and create esprit de corps. The Air Force created their digital tigerstripe pattern in 2006 after then CSAF, Gen John Jumper felt insulted after being called a Soldier while wearing woodland BDUs. Even the Army has acknowledged this with the adoption of UCP. The point was to offer a distinctive look for the Soldier. Consequently, the troops aren’t going to be exactly happy that they are getting a generic, watered down version of something they already know works. The Army is strapped for cash. This most likely means that the transition to a new camouflage identity for the Army will take some time. If a new pattern is adopted, we will see Soldiers outfitted in a combination of three different patterns for years to come. Not exactly sending a great message that they are a professional force. Nobody wants to see Soldiers wearing clashing camouflage. In not only looks bad, but operationally, testing has shown that it actually works to make the Soldier even more detectable. Way to tell Soldiers that you care.

US troops have been fighting in OCP/MultiCam for years. Give Soldiers what they know works.

The Forgotten Option
For some reason, the Army has abandoned the multi-year, Phase IV testing of the Camouflage Improvement Effort. All of the commercial candidate patterns out performed baseline (MARPAT and AOR). And as we understand it, the Crye Precision offering, while just barely, came out on top. If the Army would just award Phase IV, it could adopt the Crye Precision family of patterns and pay a measly $639,863.99 for the privilege. Is there a loophole in the NDAA? Maybe. It was used by the Army, although in a Test and Evaluation environment only, prior to adoption of the NDAA language as law.

Finish what you’ve started.

Bottom Line?
Get your act together Army. Stop wasting money. You already know what it is, so adopt a camouflage that works.

224 Responses to “US Army Considers 3 COAs for Camo Replacement”

  1. 32sbct says:

    If paying Crye is such an issue why not just go with scorpion? They already own it and it is so close to MultiCam that most would not know the difference without taking a hard look. That would allow the continued use of the OCP OCIE the Army already owns. In fact they could allow those that already own OCP to continue wearing it. When my brother was in the USMC in the late 70’s his cammies were the old vietnam era ERDL uniforms that came in both green and brown dominant patterns. They also were issuing the newer “RDF” pattern uniform. He wore all three and no one cared that everyone did not match exactly.

    Go with scorpion for day to day wear, use the MARPT desert, and the Navy’s woodland uniform. Done! Too easy. I retire in May of 2016 and I fear it will be in UCP. The horror!

    • SSD says:

      Funny thing. I heard this exact COA in late Jan. The only issue is that you end up with different pattern geometries between the Scorpion and pixelated MARPAT and AOR.

  2. Brandon says:

    Organizational inertia, Congressional mandate, and zero defect mentalities in action (inaction). I expected more of The Iron Giant but if he’s saving his ammunition, what is he saving it for? Man’s obviously surrounded by a staff who are more concerned with a fluffed OER than they are about giving the Commander analyzed information on which he can base an intelligent decision. The staff is failing him and adding a miasma of bullshit instead of piercing the fog of war.

    For fuck’s sake, just tell every TDA unit that they get no more walnut panelling for this fiscal year. And have two less conferences/industry junkets in Garmisch. There’s an easy 29 million and change.

  3. 10thMountainMan says:


  4. doc_robalt says:

    So lets cut benefits and pay across the board, give ukraine 1 billion in relief money and spend more money on camoflage testing????? I don’t get it anymore, I’m so dam confused. I’m about to med board so this won’t affect me much longer, but jesus christ, figure it out already.

  5. OMAR says:

    HAHAH I will get out of the army and join the Marines hahaah they always seem to get it right!!!!! Camo, Weapons, Deployments, dress uniforms, PT. sighhh

    • Ice Cold says:

      Just so you and everyone else knows…
      Army General are making all these “progressive” decisions without consulting the rest of the force. If Army “leadership” were to survey all the ground-pounders on how to fix the problem, then followed their advice… Problem solved. Who knows better than the men who fight the enemy every day? BUT!… Army generals are known for making decisions without consulting their own troops.

      Let’s be clear: the Army’s most F**ked up situations are created by a bunch of over-payed @$$holes who don’t even have the balls to make a decision on how to fix a problem THEY caused to happen!

  6. James E says:

    Great article. His whole situation is incredibly frusterating, especially given that my community is tasked with providing operational support for units in all services. I have a rainbow of uniforms in my closet…. Congress needs to hold the services accountable for this mess.

  7. Sgt. B says:

    29 Million seems like pocket change when compared to other projects. Either way, pull the trigger and make a decision. I’m tired of investing money in to uniforms that will be extinct in a few years.

  8. WoodyTX says:

    This should come as no surprise to anyone who was told (despite regulations, instructions, and common sense) to starch their damned BDUs.

    I swear, the Army buying camo is like a vain woman missing an event because she can’t decide what to wear. “I’ll wear this; no, that; no, this other thing; maybe these…”

  9. I was lost before and I cam still lost. I think the US Army should spend more Dollars just to be sure that no-one is confused!

  10. jrt says:

    well…. If the Army Really needs and wants it bad enough… Wartime need and Eminent domain. done.

    Governments can even condemn intangible property such as contract rights, patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. Even the taking of professional sports team’s franchise has been held by the California Supreme Court to be within the purview of the “public use” constitutional limitation,

  11. Mac says:

    Somehow I don’t think it’s so much about the licensing fee as it is “NIHS” (Not Invented Here Syndrome).

    Why do I have a feeling that Options 2 & 3 will cost a lot more in the long run? At least we already have kit in Multicam to issue rather than doing a completely new fielding.

    • Mac says:

      Just noticed the estimated $20mil price tag mentioned elsewhere in the article. The $639k had me seeing red enough to overlook that.

      • SSD says:

        Why did that bother you?

        • Mac says:

          $639k vs $20mil seems like a no brainer to me. Pocket change to correct a $5bil mistake and a solution that could start being implemented almost immediately.

    • Booya says:

      You hit the nail on the head!

      “Considering the new round of testing is going to cost even more money after they just completed testing of commercial patterns that cost in excess of $20 Million, it’s now bordering on the criminal.”. This may not fall into fraud, but it certainly falls into “waste & abuse”. The spending is outrageous. They have no legitimate reason to not go the Multicam route. The only issue is that someone doesn’t want to fork over that much cash to an small business and get no credit. Mark my words, Big Army, will get what they want and they’ll burn down a small business to do it. They’ll adjust scorpion to be a virtual match to Multicam, rename it, and call it there own.

      • Mac says:

        And the sad part is, Congress would have to get involved to stop it, again.

  12. SPK says:

    The problem with the Licencing Fee is not the amount of money, it’s that it’s called a “licencing fee”. The program offices usually get all up in arms about terms like “licencing fee” and “NRE” (Non-Reoccuring Engineering) fees. NRE is a one time fee from a company to recoup some/all of the costs that it took to engineer and design something. In the normal people world it works like this:
    “Hey ACME, I have a special project for you, I need a new gun widget. What will it cost me?”
    ACME: “It will be a one time NRE fee of $50,000 and then $100.00 per unit (with per order qty breaks) for the next five years.
    “Ok, sounds good; let’s do this!”

    Now in the DoD world, it works like this:
    DoD”Hey ACME, I have a special project for you, I need a new gun widget. What will it cost me?”
    ACME: “It will be a one time NRE fee of $50,000 and then $100.00 per unit (with per order qty breaks) for the next five years.
    DoD: OMG!!!!! $50,000 for NRE, no way can’t do it!!!! You NEED to fix this quote.
    ACME: No Problem!!!! Here is your new quote: For an order of QTY 10 it will be $5,010 per item. After the first batch order of ten, we are giving a huge price break to $2,500 Each.
    DoD: “Now that’s more Like it!!!!! Let’s do this!!!!!

    Yep…. Do the Math for 50 units…
    Normal People: $55,000.00 with NRE
    DoD: $1,501,000.00 without NRE

    This is an exaggeration, but it is the truth

    • SSD says:

      So you know, everyone currently pays about $1 per yard for MultiCam royalty including the Army. They want to be able to print as much as they want, royalty free, hence the license.
      Both the UK and Australia paid Crye Precision to develop their patterns. Now, they print to their heart’s content, royalty free.

  13. How about the decision be made this way?

    Put all the people making these decisions in the camo pattern of their choice. Put a rifle in their hands and stick them in a forward operating base and send them out on a hot patrol and see which camo pattern they like best after that?

  14. Completely and utterly ridiculous all the way but thank you SSD for staying on top of it and keeping us informed, er, up to date. I would sooner pull my own head off than cover this issue.

  15. Hussar says:

    The whole issue reminds of quote I read early this week in Red Team Journal:

    “Sufficiently advanced incomptence is indistinguishable from malice…”

  16. Kory S says:

    What ever happened to Desert All Over Brush?

    • SSD says:

      It was a victim of the UCP selection fiasco in 2004.

      • Kory S says:

        I do not see why they could not revisit it I mean they are still talking about scorpion and correct me if I am wrong desert all over brush outperformed scorpion.

        • SSD says:

          Any terrain specific pattern will outperform a universal pattern in its own environment. Unfortunately, this same pattern highlights the wearer in any other environment.

          The more specialized a pattern, the less utility it provides overall.

          • Kory S says:

            Desert all over brush was not terrain specific despite its name. They had several versions when they changed the coloration to include gray, green, brown and a tan to try get a ‘univedsal’ pattern. In the natick trials it outperformed the contractor mod (scorpion) in most environments. Also couldnt they change the coloration to include a transitional woodland and desert anyways?

  17. Dev says:

    Just wondering, in SSD’s opinion, is adopting MultiCam a fair compromise between performance and “branding”, when already 2 and perhaps more countries already use it?

    That’s what I seem to get from “the bottom line”.

    • SSD says:

      Considering the amount of money US Army has already spent and the performance MultiCam has exhibited over three separate tests I would say, “yes.”

      • jose gordon says:

        Not to mention the performance of MC in combat for the last 10 years in SOF and since 2010 in GPF in Afghanistan

  18. straps says:

    Respectfully, I think you’re playing to the mASSES when you call UCP a “$5B SNAFU.” Much of that $5B went into equipment designed to survive 2 years of hard use.

    What should be addressed–ideally with criminal prosecutions that will never happen because they would cut a broad swath through privileged classes of senior officers and staff (some of whom are drawing a paycheck, some of whom are drawing a pension)–is the BETRAYAL of a force at war sent into harms way in clothing and equipment chosen for its potential as a service branding effort over at the expense of tactical effectiveness.

    • SSD says:

      I’ve more than defended the Army on multiple occasions over the term “$5Bn SNAFU” but at this point I’m seeing an indefensible pattern of behavior. PEO Soldier has obviously not learned any lessons from its poor past performance.

  19. GW says:

    It gets really confusing to us. I have small units buying MC and Coyote Brown gear from us. This is due to a couple of things, THEY CANT STAND UCP, and the fuzziness on how the rest of the COCs will react to full scale OCP wear in a garrison or training environment. In 1984 SSG Wilkerson was a 5’2″ Texan with a giant leadership shadow once told me, “Make a GODDAM decision, right or wrong, you acted.”

    • straps says:

      If the units can buy it from you, the joes can too.

      Less of their babysitter/beer money wasted on obsolete gear…

  20. Chris K. says:

    Well, maybe Putin, Iran, or someone else will kick off WW III and we can finally get a decision.

  21. Chris K. says:

    COA 4: BYOB – Bring Your Own Battle dress uniform. Problem solved.

    • GW says:

      My ING soldiers did that, Pink and Neon Green Ski Jackets, pretty cool! but easily spotted. not that it mattered much.

  22. FGE says:

    Someone has to throw this out there. Why is Crye asking for so much money? They already got paid to develop MultiCam (Scorpion) during Objective Force Warrior program. When they Army didn’t adopt it, they made millions off of selling the pattern commercially. Which led to the Brits and Aussies requesting their own variants which Crye also made money off of. And they will continue to make millions off of the sale of this pattern, and could only benefit by having the full US Army adopt it. So why are they suddenly raising their price tag so high? Their website says “Serving those who protect freedom”, well why can’t you serve them by offering a price break to get them outfitted in a pattern that they know will protect them?

    • SSD says:

      I think this is an excellent question and should be answered because I heard virtually the same thing from some folks in the Army.

      I’d like to begin by pointing out that we are Americans and, at least for time being, are capitalists. Crye Precision is an American company. Here in America companies are expected to make money. This happens when a company offers a product or service that is in demand due to performance or popularity.

      In this case, Crye Precision offers MultiCam, a product that is popular due to its performance. In the capitalist system, they are rewarded for this.
      When I see someone question why a company should make money I immediately question their politics. Class warfare is right out of the old communist play book and continues to be practiced by socialists. It leaves me very unimpressed.

      Currently, the US military pays a royalty to Crye Precision for all of the MultiCam it consumes. It has done this for years and has been an amount that both the Armed Services and Crye have felt was fair. If this wasn’t the case, they wouldn’t have paid it. So we know that the military sees value in the MultiCam pattern. Now, the military wants to negotiate a better rate. I can appreciate that considering how much they buy. To negotiate, Crye will have looked at how much they’ve been paid over time and how much they expect to make in the future. Based in this, they would set a discounted price, understanding full well that they won’t be paid again for military use of their pattern.

      Based on the already established value of MultiCam by US military consumption, foreign licensing fees and the commercial value of camouflage, I can assure you, $24 Million (which is a made up number) is a bargain.

      If the US Army truly wanted a bargain, all they had to do was publicly announce Crye Precision the winner of Phase IV and walk away with a family of camouflage patterns for under $700,000. You should be asking the Army why they didn’t do that and not why Crye Precision is asking to be fairly compensated for producing something of value.

      • jose gordon says:

        Fantastic response SSD…HERE!!!HERE!!!

      • DeepStitch says:

        I like SSD, but you cannot assume they are free from commercial influence in this matter since Crye is one of their advertisers and they have done numerous favorable reviews of Crye products. After all, “Here in America companies are expected to make money.” And SSD is no exception.

        The Army is plenty to blame, but we should not absolve Crye. Crye makes a great product, but within the industry they are known as a very litigious company. I’ll probably get a letter from their lawyers over this post. They caused the Army to withdraw their solicitation for Combat Pants last year because they claimed proprietary rights.

        I agree with FGE; Why so much? I don’t think it is as simple as announcing a winner and only paying $700K. Government contracting is never that simple. What if Army announced the winner and then said due to price we have to go with number two?

        • SSD says:

          According to COL Cole (now BG) PM SCIE at the time Phase IV was started, price was not a selection criteria for Phase IV. In fact, the only outlier in price for Phase IV was Kryptek at around $6.5 Million. If you knew about contracting you’d understand that when the Army downselected to 4 finalists it issued a contract to each company with a ceiling in the amount of the full award. When that contract was let to be a finalist, the Army agreed to pay that full amount if the candidate was the winner. They wouldn’t get it all unless they won. Instead, they’d be paid for the fabric used in the LUE portion of testing. So, there was to be no switcharoo based on a few dollars. All along throughout a Phase IV, the Army claimed that what the science said, they would go with. This is so they could identify the best performing camouflage and avoid another UCP.

          You bring up a great point with the ACP. Once again, the Army saw value in something Crye Precision created. This time it was the integrated knee pad for the combat pant. Unfortunately, the Army didn’t want to pay for it either.

          Please explain to us all why it’s not ok for a company to invent things and then patent those ideas and then expect to be compensated when they are used. Once again, sounds like socialism.

          Finally, I’d like to address your initial comment. “I like SSD but…” I can finish what you’re implying since you didn’t come out and actually use any of the words you want people to think about me. How about Shill or Fraud or Stooge? Will those do it for you?

          If you disbelieve anything I’ve written because I have a professional relationship with Crye Precision, then you’re calling me a liar. I don’t particularly appreciate that, but it’s obvious by your post that you don’t know much of anything, especially anything about me.

          Oddly enough, YOUR company has benefitted from my writing in the past and I never took nickel one or product from you. How’s that for some irony since I’m obviously only doing this to get paid?

          In fact, I don’t run around selling advertising. Companies come to me and ask if they can advertise and they do it because I have a solid reputation, free from influence. I agree to advertising from companies that also have solid reputations.

          There’s a quote by the late, great President Abraham Lincoln that I think applies here. Maybe you should go look it up and then heed it.

          • majrod says:

            SSD – concur on your business perspective and preserving the capitalist way. Socialism isn’t a dirty word anymore here in the US.

            • SSD says:


              • BradKaF308 says:

                I thought the way US govs , of both parties, spent money and sometimes act were in socialist ways, but the media doesn’t talk about it and the public isn’t aware at all it seems.

          • Sal says:

            Then why didn’t Crye throw a fit over the ACS? It seems kinda capricious to have no problem with the Army developing a combat shirt…only to draw the line at pants.

            And if Crye truly does have exclusive rights to the combat shirt and pants concept, then why aren’t they suing tru-spec, massif, propper, arcteryx, drifire, etc?

            • SSD says:

              You need to review their patents to understand that. They are quite specific.

        • jose gordon says:

           “Crye makes a great product, but within the industry they are known as a very litigious company.”

          Please illuminate here…I’ve been involved in this industry for a number of years on the Gov’t side and have never seen a Crye protest. So please expand…

          • SSD says:

            I think he’s talking about how Crye Precision sends Cease & Desist letters to those companies that rip off their IP.

            You know, ideas don’t matter, anyone can use them. It’s the typical socialist race to the bottom mentality.

        • Friend of SSD says:

          It’s pretty funny to see someone accuse Eric of being a shill for anyone, especially Crye. When I run into him, if he’s wearing camo at all it’s never MultiCam. He’s always got a pack or hat from some offbeat camo on. I looked at the camo category on this site and it’s amazing how many patterns and companies he has covered over the years. Few of them are advertisers. I don’t know where you get off accusing Eric of being influenced by an advertiser. He’s one of the few honest men we have in media.

    • Explosive Hazard says:

      Hopefully they can come to terms because multicam seems to be the only logical answer at this point. If the Army didn’t shit on themselves and made a decision to adapt the winner of phase IV in time then they would have saved money AND got the rights to the most advanced camo produced to date. In my opinion 24 million is cheap considering the alternatives. At this point they would save money buying multicam since its already in service.

    • Mike Nomad says:

      Your comment touches on the question I have: Is Crye asking for too much money, or is Army Cammo Command just looking for a freebie? I haven’t seen anything fact-based that indicates Crye is trying to gouge.

      • SSD says:

        I think it’s something more than the money. As I’ve already demonstrated, The staff officers making these recommendations are willing to spend more than the $24 million in licensing in order to purchase something that performs less well than MultiCam.

        • Kory S says:

          I think the Army does not want multicam and is just using this as an excuse. They want a digital pattern I think. So they want a digital multicam and something like Marpat or Aor.

          • SSD says:

            They’ve already got a digital pattern. It’s called UCP.

            • Strike-Hold says:

              Yes, but I think that Kory makes an excellent point.

              I think some of the brass somewhere feel butt-hurt that they let Crye take “Scorpion” away, tweak it and turn it into such a success under the MultiCam brand name.

              I also think they’re feeling butt-hurt that the Navy have pixilated, digital patterns that are useful – while they swallowed the pearl jam and rolled-out UCP.

              They also feel butt-hurt that Congress stepped in and forced them to adopt a better pattern for use on the two-way range – and even worse, it was back to butt-hurt scenario number 1 for them when that better solution turned out to be MultiCam as well.

              Then they felt butt-hurt yet again when MC emerged as the leading contended from their own extensive study.

              And now they’re feeling butt-hurt yet again because Crye are asking for proper compensation for handing over their intellectual property.

              They need to just relax their sphincter and take it…

            • Aaron says:

              MultiCam is digital…Pixelated it is not.

            • Kory S says:

              They want one that works.

        • jose gordon says:

          I’ll say it SSD…I believe its personal and here is where I find the legal aspect to be so critical. Its time that certain Leaders and action officersb n the Army acquisition system be called on to answer in a formal setting, what is the delay, and force them to admit to their feet dragging for no other reason than a personal one…

  23. SteveB says:

    I can’t see the USMC or USN in anything resembling Multicam. Zo, here’s what I expect to happen..and its all Digital;

    Desert-Marpat/aor1 type pattern
    Transitional- new pattern under development
    Woodland- re-colored Marpat/aor2
    For PPE/OCIE, use the Transitional pattern or Coyote Brown?
    I think this soloution will make everyone happy.

    • Kory S says:

      No it won’t the Marines will not give up their Marpat for at least another decade.
      So the Army just needs to bite the bullet here and just adopt a pattern be it Marpat, Multicam, NWU or scorpion or be stuck in UCP for a long time to come.

      • SSD says:

        By law, the Army can adopt MARPAT today and the Marine Corps can’t do a thing about it. However, MARPAT packs a transitional pattern. The Army cannot afford to put every soldier in both Arid and Woodland uniforms.

        • majrod says:

          Are you saying the Army is still trying to buy ONE pattern for ALL environments? How does that fly with what we have now fielding both UCP and OCP. Doesn’t follow.

          Fine, go with Desert MARPAT. It’s what the Marines are wearing in Afghanistan.

          IF we have a need for woodland buy and issue it then. That’s what we did with Chocolate Chip and DCU. Every soldier didn’t have to maintain different camo. They were issued as a contingency came up.

          Better yet, go with AOR1.

        • Sal says:

          Eh, just use the so-called “universal AOR” pattern if they’re so hellbent on using pixelated.

          • SSD says:

            The problem is, it doesn’t really exist. There were some test patterns printed but nothing was ever finalized. The Army unit involved in The PSM program that created the AOR patterns eventually bowed out and adopted MultiCam due to a variety of reasons but most specifically performance and cost. Operationally, they could adopt a single pattern that worked reasonably well across most any environment they would deploy to. They didn’t have to purchase as many socialized patterns and their troops wouldn’t show up in the wrong pattern. All of the reasons the US Army writ large is best served by an effective universal pattern.

    • Dev says:

      The “new transitional pattern” would have to resemble MARPAT to work with it, and it won’t be a new pattern if that was the case.

      In an ideal world, everything would be ripped apart and started afresh. 3 patterns and one “transitional”, patterned webbing, pile and all, with all service arms adopting it.

      That would however, probably never happen.

      • SSD says:

        It would still be a new pattern.

        • Strike-Hold says:

          Surely if the geometry is the same and only the colors change they could argue that its a recoloration, not a new pattern?

          • SSD says:

            Don’t give them any ideas

              • Doc_robalt says:

                Isn’t the marine corp supposedly working on a MARPAT 2.0 which is supposed to be “transitional” ?

                • SSD says:

                  NRL has been working on something transitional but the Army DTP was developed in house at Natick. Several years ago LTC Tim O’Neill (USA, Ret) was awarded a contract by MARCORSYSCOM to work on MARPAT 2.0 but nothing was ever released from this work.

            • majrod says:

              Any answer that adopts MARPAT (or AOR) is an issue but those same issues don’t exist with MARPAT.

              Multicam bias SSD?

              • SSD says:

                The problem with MARPAT and AOR is both fiscal as well as operational. I’ve written about this at length.

                Additionally, the Army has invested $0 in either family of patterns. So, essentially, by adopting either, or anything else new, they throw away not only the initial multi-Billion Dollar investment in UCP but also the Billion-plus Dollars spent on OCP over the past four years. What’s worse, the Army itself has already demonstrated that neither of those patterns perform as well as MultiCam.

                Yes, I have a bias. I have a bias for something that works and is available immediately. This is getting old.

                • majrod says:

                  Whatever we spent on UCP is irrelevant. It in no way impacts whatever pattern that follows.

                  Money has been spent on OCP but that equipment like any other will wear out. Selecting a new camo with a two year wear out date will exhaust gov’t purchased stocks. Again cost is not an issue.

                  In the ’08 test MC bested UCP and MARPAT bested MC. The ’10 testing selected MC for Afghanistan but it wasn’t better than AOR.

                  I thought SSD stood for the best equipment now it’s for “what works” and “is available immediately”? OK, AOR and MARPAT fit that bill and puts us all in common uniforms which also provides additional cost savings.

                  I’m glad you acknowledged your bias but it shouldn’t impact what gets selected, Bias contrary to what performs best got us in this mess in the first place.

                  • majrod says:

                    BTW, no licensing fee or royalties with AOR or MARPAT.

                    • SSD says:

                      Very true, but the Army hasn’t already purchased over a billion Dollars worth of the stuff either.

                  • SSD says:

                    Once again, there’s a billion reasons to stick with what outperforms either of those options.

                  • jose gordon says:

                    I’m not sure what ’08 test results you’re referring too…

                    “The ’10 testing selected MC for Afghanistan but it wasn’t better than AOR.”

                    I absolutely have no idea what you are referring too here. MC wasnt selected for AF because it DIDNT do better than AOR in AF. It was selected for use in AF because IT DID DO BETTER than AOR in AF…please refer to your source. This has absolutely nothing to do with Crye preference. This fixation with accusing MC of only being better, not because test results prove it out, but instead because users prefer Crye Precision and all out denying codified results is exactly what this SSD article is about. It shows the very disdain with all things Crye big Army has, much the same as the patholigcal distrust big Army has with anything SOF. Its infuritating!!!

    • SSD says:

      But you do realize that none of those things perform as well as MultiCam right?

    • Explosive Hazard says:

      The USN already uses MultiCam in Afghanistan, same with the AF. I saw many sailors and airmen in the pattern not to mention the SEAL’s use it, sometimes even combined with AOR 1 which looks funky but if it works……. Marines however, seem to hate MultiCam.

  24. Hodge175 says:

    Will it seems the cheapest, the Best performing and most scientific camoflauge is the one that one the Phase IV testing. Maybe CRYE is making the pay more for multicam because they really want the army to adopt the newer patterns. Either way CRYE has the best patterns that are prove to work to various degrees of success it just the Army refuse to support them directly.

  25. Mick says:


    Is it time to write to our congressmen?

    Is there an especially influential committee you’d recommend we write to? Or just reach out to our own senators and/or reps?


  26. Explosive Hazard says:

    Who the fuck makes the final decision? CSA? Didn’t he just observe and participate (to what ever extent) in a training exercise with 2/75th RGR? They wear multicam CONUS. 75th is considered the role model for the rest of the Army, nuff said. 24 million is a drop in the bucket especially if that means the Army can essentially get the new arid and tropical patterns out of the deal. That is the only COA that makes sense to me.

  27. DBACK028 says:

    My opinions on the COA’s:

    1) Most logical, as mentioned above the Army has spent millions of dollars already with the purchasing the material in not only uniform…but gear. And that’s where the big bucks lie. Yes, the material is expensive, but when you add in the amount of gear that we have put in multicam…that’s like doubling the amount we’re spending on multicam…assault bags, molle gear, camelbacks, the list goes on and on for the little stuff. That all adds up. Gear+Uniform=outrageous spending already…. ADOPT Multicam….it JUST MAKES SENSE!

    2) Not near as smart as option 1. However, this pattern, from what I gather, is owned by the Army. Predecessor or not it is still better than UCP, and the second smartest option, if nothing else they won’t have to deal with the politics of getting it owned and printing licenses…if I’m understanding it correctly. Hell, who knows? Like I said second smartest option, but there again you’re going to have to redo all new uniforms, AND all new gear, and we all know how long that will take to get that out.

    3) stupid, stupid, stupid…and that’s about all I have to say about that. IF they do that route, although it will be more effective than UCP, I would say that is still a fashion statement. PLUS I think it’ll cost more, PLUS redo all unifroms…ect ect from what I said above…..STUPID STUPID STUPID

    Bottom line…adopt Multicam, that is all.


  28. Stoney says:

    $639,863.99 for the best camouflage pattern series currently available.

    Why aren’t criminal charges being raised against any and every individual standing in the way of this option? Identity and individuality be damned. The pattern picked was found to be the most effective and it’s cost to adopt is miniscule in comparison to any other option. Taxpayer dollars are being thrown out the door because a few individuals have so much brass on their chest that it drug their heads down to the levels of their ass.

    Am I way off base on this?

  29. Dev says:

    Perhaps as things stand, this is what it boils down to:

    1. Performance
    2. Cost effective
    3. “brand” awareness

    Choose 2

  30. WB says:

    Multicam is a great transitional pattern. The AOR patterns went through a ton of testing before being adopted by Tier 1 forces and then by the Navy. Multicam was part of the down select during all of the AOR testing but was eliminated due to poor performance in many environments. AOR is a really good patter to fit bookends of a transitional pattern like multicam, or if you mix and match AOR 1 and AOR 2 you get a really good transitional pattern eliminating the need for a transitional pattern keeping soldiers down to two AO specific patterns. The navy owns the AOR patterns. I bet if someone put their pride away the navy would give it to the other services. Just a thought.

    • SSD says:

      By law, any service can adopt the patterns of another service. They don’t have to ask. During Phase IV testing the all four commercial finalists outperformed both the AOR and MARPAT patterns.
      As I stated in the article, any newly created patterns must be adopted by all four services before they can be used due to the 2014 NDAA. So, even if mixing up AOR 1&2 would create a great transitional pattern it would face the same uphill battle as the developmental DTP which begins testing next week using the NATO protocol.

      • jose gordon says:

        AOR 1 & 2 and multi-cam were tested differently by Navy NSW against more specific criteria than the latest Army test where MC was found to be consistently 80% more effective over all identified areas as opposed to being 100% better in any one specific area…therefore, with the transitional characterization being paramount, MC is better…period…the end. In addition, what makes MC more effective is not just the earthone color scheme/combination but the pattern shape/form (smooth edges as opposed to digital). Digital patterns (or as affectionally referred to by several of us as “square camoflauge”) is far less effective at shorter ranges (estimated at 100 meteres and in). Therefore, all digital patterns (regardless of color combination) are less effective than the combination of color scheme and smooth edges of MC…

        • Dom Hyde says:

          ALL digital patterns, Jose?

          Ignoring your error in referring to MC as if it were not also a digital pattern (you meant to say ‘pixelated’ patterns are less effective, didn’t you?), there are some highly effective pixelated patterns that wipe the floor with MC in their specific environments – at all ranges.

          The point is that MC is the general purpose, 80% solution. For deserts and jungles it doesn’t work as well as desert camo and jungle camo do, so the Army wants to have specific patterns for those environments too, for limited issue when needed.

          This has been different in the past, when the Army had a Woodland camouflage for general issue and the tropics, and a desert camo for anywhere else. The woodland was not giving the best performance outside densely foliaged areas, as well as which Army logistics were shown to be unable to quickly re-equip large forces with theater-correct camo during deployment (e.g. Gulf War 1). Hence the effort to develop Scorpion, and latterly OCP.

          • jose gordon says:

            O.K….you got me. I left out pixelated and substituted “digital” for it. If you take the time to read down you’ll see I corrected that. However, your tone is pretty arrogant as if you have an insight that hasn’t been presented here. Everything you just wrote I, SSD and other very knowledgeable and involved peopl already very deliberately pointed out. In fact, if you take the time to read you’ll see that you just took the time to repeat everything that was already stated…to what end??? Your tenor reflects an attitude against the results…eh???

      • majrod says:

        SSD – You can’t have it both ways. The Multicam tested in Phase IV wasn’t the same as OCP.

        The OCP version was bested by AOR.

        Your mixing and matching your argument to make Multicam always win. I get it Caleb is a great guy.

        My priorities:
        What’s legal? (That whole oath thing)
        What’s the best pattern? (and I’d REALLY like the Army to release the results of Phase IV)

        • jose gordon says:

          Negative…OCP was not bested by AOR that is a general comment and it is incorrect…AOR did better than OCP in their respective environments – woodland in that environment/desert in arid. However, we don’t ifight or operate in only “one” environment, thus our conclusion to arrive at a pattern which transitions through all environments (transition defined as allows a better than 70% solution in all environments). MC transitions better than 80%. AOR 1 & 2 falls short – woodland MARPAT being the worse and AOR 2 only acheiving marginal better results that AOR 1.

          • jose gordon says:

            Sorry…MC tested in Ph IV is exactly the same as OCP…it is OCP…

            • SSD says:

              Yes, the OCP is MultiCam. I think the confusion many have is that OCP was tested as baseline and Crye Precision also was a finalist with their candidate patterns. For all essential purposes the Transitional CP candidate is the same as OCP/MultiCam. As I understand it, there are minor differences that can be discerned over a large sample.

          • majrod says:

            Jose – One problem. OCP was not tested/selected for its performance in all environments.

            From the “Soldier Camouflage for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF): Pattern-in-picture (PIP) technique for expedient human-in-the-loop camouflage assessment” (emphasis added) This was the test that selected OCP for AFGHANISTAN.

            in the opening paragraph…

            “In response todirection from a May 2009 House AppropriationsCommittee Report for a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.”

            The backgrounds used were specifically identified to simulate Afghanistan.

            • SSD says:

              Picture-in-picture testing was used to identify a most favorable course of action. Actual wear tests were then conducted in Afghanistan by troops wearing both MultiCam and UCP-D.

            • jose gordon says:

              You are correct…MC wasnt selected for its performance in all environments. It was selected by how well it transitioned a Soldier wearing it from one environment (desert/arid)into another (woodland) in the same mission set. I know…trust me…thats how we did it…when a specific pattern is used for a specific enviroment and it stays in that environment, generally speaking, the ONE pattern does better. However, we “practicalized” (my new word) the operational employment of camoflauge in the compressed time period and developed a test metric that quantified the “transition” philosphy. Until we can “predatorize” (my other new word) camoflauge and one uniform can optimize a pattern to better than 95% effective in all transition scenarios, we have what we have…thats MC transitions through all environments 80% better than one pattern specifically desgined for a specific environment (lets say Woodland MARPAT).

  31. Strike-Hold says:

    Screw it – go back to OG107 Pickle Suits and be done with the whole fashion parade thing…

    • Cap'n Drew says:

      As related to me by a crusty old greybeard regarding the AF’s adoption of the woodland BDU: “Why are there a bunch bushes wandering around on my flightline?”

    • majrod says:


      OG107(or “Jungle Fatigues”) & Pickle Suits were two different uniforms

      • Strike-Hold says:

        “OG107” is a color shade, not a uniform.

        • majrod says:

          Correct, OG 107 is a color.

          Having worn both, the “pickle suit” was referred to as such or “fatigues” and NEVER as OG-107. “OG107’s” was the slang to identify the jungle uniform in the 80’s, also referred to as “jungle fatigues” or just “jungles”.

          If you want to get technical the pickle suit was the “Utility Uniform”. Marines tended to use the term “utilities” and soldiers “fatigues”.

          • Kory S says:

            Marines uniforms are called utilities but the most common word you will hear is cammies.

            • majrod says:

              Yes but I’m also referring to life before camouflage. I’ve also heard the term “diggies” applied to MARPAT.

  32. jose gordon says:

    This is is an excellent article…my hats off to SSD for saying what everyone is thinking and saying what everyone else knows is right!!!

  33. DeepStitch says:

    Another consequence of this “SNAFU” is the Army is currently experiencing a temporary shortage of ACU-Ps. DLA drew down stocks in anticipation of a change over. The shelves in clothing sales are half empty. TRADOC has suspended the supplemental issue to Drill Sergeants and Instructors.

  34. majrod says:

    SSD – thanks for staying on top of this.

    Option 3 – why not incorporate the patterns from the Army test into this competition or even just the digital ones if it has to be digital? That would overcome your objection that the patterns from the Phase IV test were better than MARPAT or AOR.

  35. Stefan S. says:

    Face facts. The “Politicians with stars” or id you prefer “Golden Parachute Hunters” and their techno-geek civilians are soup sandwiches. Billions spent on that POS UCP now this? XM-8 anyone? If you remember back that far.

  36. USMColddawg says:

    If Congress wants one pattern and currently the best pattern is Marpat and AOR; then print that pattern on the UCP cut. It is that simple. We have the stupid rank in the middle and velcro but it will be in MarPat.

  37. USMColddawg says:

    Can someone post this article on the CSA and SMA’s FACEBOOK pages please?

  38. Jon Meyer says:

    How damn hard is it for people to understand that PIXELATED is not the same as DIGITAL? Let me make it more understandable for you dumb-dumbs. Pixelated means the square looking camo. Digital means the camo pattern was digitally generated. Get it? Got it? Good!

    Also, how god damn hard is it to comprehend that MARPAT and AOR were INFERIOR? Meaning, not up to par, sub-standard, worse, etc..

    Holy f*cking sh*t.

  39. Guy Cramer says:

    The U.S. Army research indicates otherwise. Digital pixelated patterns are not inferior:

    • jose gordon says:

      Guy…just to clear the results up. You are correct, – the Army results show that no one single pattern of the 4 tested after the down select did statistically better than any other in any one environment. They were all within statistical striking distance of one another. However, it does show a difference in statistical consistency when transitioning environments within AOR’s. This is where MC’s 80% transitioning consistancy elevates the pattern and seperates a pixellated pattern from those with rounder/smoother edges. This is where distance to detection comes in…

      • JBAR says:

        Mr. Gordon, is your comment the result of the Phase IV test? If so, you are stating the variable that resulted in MC being selected as the winner, Correct? As far as I know, this is the best and most specific answer to the Phase IV testing.

        • jose gordon says:

          Yes…it was a variable which pushed MC slightly above the other three. However, there were other, non-specific variables which played in MC’s favor, not for discloseure here…

    • Jon Meyer says:

      I meant inferior to the finalists in the Phase IV testing. I actually prefer pixelated patterns.

  40. tictac says:

    The Army wants a digital pattern, judging by their latest field tests.

    The Marines want to keep their MARPAT, which US4CES looks relatively similar to and does just as good as in their bookend patterns.

    Hyperstealth’s transitional pattern does as good as Multicam. And would fill the flexible camo option everyone wants and needs, while matching the bookend patterns, which just looks better.

    Everyone seems to be using OCP/Multicam in some way, and would be the best economic choice, which I completely understand, but I believe that we would be better off choosing the most EFFECTIVE pattern, no matter whose company it belongs to, or who is using it.

    US4CES has what we are looking for, except for the Made in the USA tag on it, which can be changed. At the end of the day, cost savings means nothing if a life was lost because of it. I don’t want to go through all of this R+D crap again eight years later because the brass sees more effective patterns that they couldn’t afford last time.

    Do it once, do it right, and please don’t do it again for a while. It will save time, money and lives in the long run.

    • SSD says:

      I’m not sure why you think US4CES is not a US pattern. Not that it matters at this point. The Army is no longer even considering the 4 finalist families of patterns from Phase IV.

      • tictac says:

        I thought is was made by Hyperstealth…nevermind. Its a shame that the Army had to go through all of this just to come back to what they had in the first place. Thanks for the reply and keeping us informed.

      • Guy Cramer says:

        US4CES is actually a Canadian pattern; if US4CES won Phase IV, US4CES would have become majority owned by ADS Inc. out of Virginia Beach and become a U.S. owned camouflage pattern. Because Phase IV is on permanent hold, it was decided that it would be beneficial to both parties (ADS Inc./Guy Cramer) is US4CES was majority owned by me (a Canadian) to allow the pattern to fall under the Canadian Government guidelines. The U.S. Government views camouflage as a military item which requires U.S. State Department approval for Foreign sales, if they have ever done this with any camouflage which is owned by an American or a U.S. company is not my business, but the U.S. does have the right under their laws to determine approval or rejection to any foreign country of any U.S. owned camouflage pattern.

        The Canadian Government views camouflage as an art form and it does not fall under the same export restrictions as it would if the Canadian’s considered it a military item. In other words Canadian Foreign Affairs (equivalent to the U.S. State Department) cannot interfere with us licensing a camouflage pattern to a foreign country or customer, unless they are country or customer which no Canadian company is allowed to sell to such as North Korea.

        The U.S. also restricts foreign camouflage sales and shipments under ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), when the camouflage is treated to work in the NIR (Near Infrared) to work against Night Vision, ITAR is very restrictive and when ADS Inc. is asked to ship US4CES material to foreign countries, the receiving country must get ITAR approval for ADS to proceed. The fact that US4CES is majority Canadian does not change the ITAR approval if US4CES is manufactured in the U.S., it still cannot be exported outside of the U.S. without ITAR approval. Again I don’t know if other camouflage companies adhere to these ITAR guidelines as that is their responsibility, the penalties can be very severe if you are in violation of ITAR.

        If US4CES is manufactured outside of the U.S., then the export restrictions with NIR camouflage are much easier to work with.

        If Phase IV was finalized and US4CES won, then majority ownership transfers back to ADS Inc. which would then make it a U.S. camouflage pattern.

        So the reason it is now a Canadian owned pattern is to allow us, (ADS Inc./Guy Cramer), to proceed with licensing US4CES to other countries which are looking for a new camouflage without us requiring U.S. State Department approvals.

        • Guy Cramer says:

          Hyperstealth’s involvement in US4CES is a license to allow the company to print and sell short run production of US4CES Bravo and US4CES Charlie series

        • tictac says:

          So you made it Canadian owned to avoid our restrictions. Thank you for clearing that up.

        • Whoa Whoa Whoa says:

          Hold up a sec. So Guy Cramer is saying that US4CES is a Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp product? Isn’t Tim O’Neill Guy Cramer’s partner in Hyperstealth? And wasn’t Tim O’Neill an advisor to Natick for the Camo Phase IV? How was this not disclosed before this? This sounds very fishy.

          O’Neill is involved in the program and somehow his company’s camo is selected as a finalist. No wonder Cramer has been saying all along that he was supposed to win. Sounds like the fix was in from the beginning.

          • tictac says:

            Here we go…

          • Guy Cramer says:

            US4CES is not a Hyperstealth product (the media always screws that up), US4CES is owned by ADS Inc./Guy Cramer. Lt. Col. Tim O’Neill is an advisor to Hyperstealth.

            Col. O’Neill was not involved in any part of the U.S. Army Phase IV trials or testing beyond the initial consulting he did for them on potential testing procedures which would meet scientific guidelines, he did that before any patterns were ever submitted to the Army.

            Due to our relationship the Army decided to remove Col. O’Neill from the entire Phase IV process at the start so that if US4CES won, there would not be any grounds for protest.

            Col. O’Neill was not privy to the testing they used, the patterns that were submitted, the data obtained or the results of the testing, he was fully removed from all of it.

            • SSD says:

              I’ve always been careful to characterize US4CES as a ADS/Cramer offering but I must admit, you are crossing streams here by using HyperStealth’s website to discuss it so much and I can certainly see how people become confused.

            • jose gordon says:

              Lets be clear here also. Mr O’Niel is one of the very few (maybe 2 or 3 people in the world) who has both the scientific expertise and the longevity in testing camoflauge. Therefore, POE-S bringining him in early on, was invaluable to the scientific rigor applied to the test parameters. He is without question, why the testing procedures were so exhaustive and indesputable. There is absolutely no way to argue the results of the test, thanks to the ground breaking protocols COL O’Niel consulted in…

              • jose gordon says:

                Sorry…FAT FUCKING FINGERS – I meant PEO-S…not POE-S…

              • Guy Cramer says:

                Jose, I don’t believe the Army followed all of his recommendations. Picture in Picture (PIP) technique will provide a general idea but it is still subjective, it does not replace the objective testing methods we have done prior.

                The PIP technique, where they place a photo at a particular pattern representing the height and width of a soldier at a particular distance (the pattern is scaled and blurred to provide a similar look that the human eye perceives at that simulated distance (in this case 46 yards), the pattern rectangle is then placed directly in the middle of the photo, meaning you do not have to search for it and then the tester is asked to compare how well it blends with the background in the environment.

                So the PIP has been a good way to give you a general idea of how a pattern will work compared to many others at 46 yards. Subjective PIP testing has allot to do with the colors and contrast differences between the colors within the pattern as they compare to the immediate colors and contrast surrounding the rectangle.

                This method does not give the best indication on how the pattern disruption and geometry effect the length of time to find it in the first place or determine what the target is as it is already in the middle (where is it?) and the shape is a rectangle (what is it?).

                Previous testing we have done with the Army snipers with camouflage required the viewer to find the pattern (timed in Milliseconds) then identify what the target was (also timed in Milliseconds). This objective method was not used in the Phase IV trials. Probably because Tim and I were the ones that had put together this form of testing and with me one the submission side and Tim not being involved, no one was left to set this type of testing up.

                • Guy Cramer says:

                  The field testing of the NIR/SWIR testing was also conducted on or around the full moon, this extra ambient light causes Night Vision to perceive targets around 740 nm (Nanometers) whereas had they tested on or around the new moon the targets fall into the 900 nm range. What this means is that a poor pattern in the NIR comes out adequate and a good pattern in the NIR drops to comparable levels with the other poor NIR patterns.

                  When discussing this testing with a former JTF2 member in Canada, he said that a full moon will often cause a no-go on a mission because of visual detection issues.

                  We also heard that the SWIR (Short Wave Infrared) was not even a consideration in the actual testing, nor did they consider the lab results for SWIR.

                  • jose gordon says:

                    Guy…thats not entirely correct. PIP was done and weighted anecdotally/subjective yes, but given a metric and a value. That value was overlayed not by pattern but time over detection. In addition, not all NIR testing was conducted during a moon cycle. Some was also conducted with zero illumination and again given a value so that all detections were meaned against the dynamic of varying illumination levels. Again, although I understand that not all of Tim’s input was followed, the test team had to gain scientific data and use it in support of anecdotal and vice versa. Historically one has outweighed the other – the science tradionally took precedence. This where Tim’s techniques were incorporated. The Community of Interest had to reconcile the individual Soldiers perception…in other words, what happens in a lab (the science) is equally important to what a Soldier percieves. This test team did an incredible job of rectifying that traditionally imbalanced system…

                    • Guy Cramer says:

                      The vast majority of Phase IV testing took place between the first quarter moon (half of the moon is bright) and third quarter moon (the other half is bright) with the full moon in the middle. The six test windows where they used their Hemisphere Hopping team were all (on purpose) within 9 days or less of a full moon.

                    • jose gordon says:

                      “Vast majority”????? isnt that subjective??? Guy, I hear ya. However, there were 4 Phases to this test…before the down select, all of those areas of testing concern were exhaustively discussed and it was decided that the prior phases did not include the level of illuminations as was injected into Phase IV. Trust me, the IPT, the NSRDEC crew and ATEC were all in concert and agreement when the test methodology was agreed upon. PM-SPIE was completely thorough when he made his decision with the test path forward in full consulation with his former professor at USMA and friend Tim O’Niel. I believe they arrived at a very logical and pracitcal methodology…

  41. Tim O'Neill says:

    Mercy sakes. Here are some points that should be made just to clarify what’s being said and implied. First, there are quite a few ways to approach this problem, and the sponsor has to make a choice somewhere in the process. I have no idea what happened in the testing phases; when I was invited to come in as a consultant, I disclosed all commercial connections to avoid any conflict, and put it behind me when testing started. I still haven’t seen the results (nor the details of testing and analysis, where the worst problems usually crop up).

    The objective/subjective problem (which crops up in Jose’s explanation) intrudes here with the use of a technique called “blending” which was probably used in the initial phase at least. I recommended against it; it begins with a subjective judgment, and assigning a number to judgment doesn’t make it any more objective. Elsewhere, I see reference to other, objective, measures (time to detect, etc.) which are more solid. The reason for not just looking at a pattern, or a pair of them and rating them is more complicated than it seems. Detecting and recognizing (or verifying) a target use two different visual pathways, and blending uses only one, so blending causes some confusion; how much I really don’t know. Anyway, that’s how it was probably done.

    As to other comments about “digital” v. “nondigital” patterns: As I’ve been at pains to point out for only about 36 years, the little squares are just a way of producing a high-frequency “busy” micropattern; the way you do it is more important than just a “digital” look and feel, but the explanation is sort of mathematical, involving spatial frequency power spectra and autocorrelations, so I won’t bore you with it.

    The Army effort was not designed to determine the relative superiority of any single distinct design element. To do that would have required exhaustively multiple tests, each holding all factors (e.g., color, texture) constant but one. That would have been logistically and statistically a huge goat-rope. We do know (from tests as early as 1977) that, when color and larger pattern geometry are held constant, properly constructed texture match (digital in some cases) is harder to see. The point is that color combination and three (at least) attributes of the pattern geometry are at play, any one of which can affect performance. We can’t possibly design a test that would parse out all these features, and the long-suffering folks at Natick and Aberdeen would start hallucinating.

    Note, for example, that in tests prior to the last huge project, a comparison of quite a few existing patterns demonstrated clear superiority in woodland for the woodland MARPAT (a digital pattern) over nondigital alternatives; results were similar, though less dramatic, in desert. Since the other patterns used different colors and were different in some geometric styles, that does not mean that digital is always better. Effectiveness is necessarily a combination of design decisions.

    Yes, Multicam was a “nondigital” alternative. However, Multicam’s design is well conceived; it did not perform well against two-environment families because the idea of a single pattern is handicapped from the start. If you think about it for a while, you will understand why.

    There’s still a lot we don’t know about practical camouflage. I still commute to West Point and work with cadet projects, some of which will eventually answer some of these questions (admittedly, a bit late to save the current situation).

    The only thing we can all agree on is that almost anything is better than UCP–but we all knew that before the project started. I’d like to say any choice we make is going to be an improvement. I’d like to; but I’ve been in the trade for a long, long time, and I’m too old to enjoy being lampooned by Doctrine Man.

    • SSD says:

      Thanks for coming in and clarifying.

    • majrod says:

      Thanks LTC O’Neill. Outstanding, objective input and education!

    • JBAR says:

      LTC O’Neill, thank you for posting. Can you provide any information about how UCP ended up being selected? Everyone says that UCP was approved out of nowhere, and was selected as a distinctive fashion statement for the Army to be different and improve recruiting and morale. I do not see how it was even remotely selected, unless it was selected as an urban camo. The lingering question is where did UCP come from? Who approved it?

      • Tim O'Neill says:

        Sorry, I wasn’t part of that and must decline to speculate. At that moment I was working for the Marine Corps team at Natick (a couple of doors down the hall from the Army team); I learned about UCP when I saw it on the cover of Army Times.

        I can address UCP from a technical perspective, and explain why it was a bad alternative. The main difficulties had to do with color attributes (the geometry was similar to the MARPATs, which unlike UCP were very effective). In short, the colors, which were supposed to represent woodland green, urban gray, and desert tan, were really three shades of rather neutral gray. Overall the pattern was too light for woodland and did not match any common desert colors. (The “urban gray” was a silly idea: are cities gray?).

        In addition, there was a problem with the brightness contrast (difference in intensity between light and dark elements). The visual system sees shapes most effectively as a contrast between light and dark, not one color and another. Absence of brightness contrast is called isoluminance, and results (in this case) in the effective disappearance of the pattern beyond a very close range. This doomed UCP.

    • Steven S says:

      “but the explanation is sort of mathematical, involving spatial frequency power spectra and autocorrelations, so I won’t bore you with it.”

      You won’t bore me. I have been using FFT to incorporate a texture matching micro in my patterns for awhile now. I have a reasonably good grasp on the concepts but it won’t hurt to hear it again from an expert.

      • Tim O'Neill says:

        Excellent. First, the human visual system has long been known to perform a kind of Fourier analysis of size information (size and shape) into narrow bands of spatial frequency. (Spatial frequency is the psychophysical equivalent of size.) Size in natural environments reaches the visual system as bands of spatial frequency (phase components determine shape). An optic array (what we’re looking at) can be described as a three dimensional Fourier power spectrum. Since this is a definable (and reversible) function, we can correlate the power spectra of background and target (camouflaged) in those terms to determine texture match.

        Almost all discussions of camouflage center on color; we seldom discuss the pattern geometry, which is more difficult to define.

        Another problem is contrast (as noted, difference in intensity between light and dark elements). Too much contrast stands out against some backgrounds; too little results in isoluminance and the effective disappearance of the pattern to the visual system. What we find important (we looked at this in a recent test for another government agency) is finding a “sweet spot” of contrast for the desired detection range, which is a tactical factor. The range differs, for example, between military snipers and law enforcement snipers because the payoffs for missing are different.

  42. Guy Cramer says:

    Jose I cannot post the document on the testing as it is marked “For Official Use” on the Award Tech for US4CES the Army sent us. You should have access to the document, on last page where they have pictured 3 full moons marked with the dates July 4, August 1 and August 31, 2012 with an arrow pointing down from the full moon to the testing blocks, which coincide with the three full moon images. That is not subjective.

  43. Guy Cramer says:

    These results from the lab tests on US4CES and Multicam (OCP) show the big change in NIR results if you test on or around the full moon.

    • jose gordon says:

      Guy…those are three test dates. There were many more. I have all the test documents. I’ll review on Monday but it suffices that I’ve read, re-read all the results as well as having been involved in the development. Regardless, I’ll refresh myself, with all the important protocols before I go further…thanks…in addition, the fact remains that the test was completed, analysed and COA developed. The best way to answer this is any of the patterns down selected and tested IAW Phase IV will rectify the mistake of 2004 and UCP. The key here which is the premise of this fine SSD article is for the Army to stop and decide rather continue to add to the UCP debacle…

      • Guy Cramer says:

        These were all the field trials dates they listed to us; Uniforms arrived 28th of May, Images were taken of the uniform over the next few weeks for the Photo Simulation rendering to be done later which began on the 10th of September 2012. Field Testing only occurred in-between their photos of the uniforms and the Photo Sim tests.

  44. Guy Cramer says:

    This one shows what happens to all seven colors in Multicam (OCP) in the NIR spectrum, again from lab tests. If you test it near the full moon (740 nm) it has a lower reflectance – matching the background and highest contrast between colors. If you test it on the new moon, it is twice as bright (brighter than the background) and has very little contrast

  45. Guy Cramer says:

    This is what NATO wants to see in reflection levels for the NIR/SWIR:

  46. Guy Cramer says:

    Col. Tim O’Neill has chimed in to clarify a number of points, his posts precede these last few.

  47. JBAR says:

    So, in the end, is it more beneficial for the Army to adopt Multicam? Yes, they have invested in it already. while adopting Multicam may be beneficial for the Army, it does nothing for the entire military’s adoption of a common camo. This means that it will have to be changed again in the future anyway. Except for the Air Force, the entire military currently uses the same digital pattern, just in different colors. That being said, if the Army is considering just changing UCP’s colors to transitional colors, that would seem to support both economic sense and moving forward with something that could be considered a fix to the entire military’s adoption to common camo. If you take MARPAT or NWUs and add the transitional colored version, that would seem a great answer in the current situation. Is that not what the DOD is currently trying to do? Recoloring the current digital pattern would seem to be very cheap.

    • SSD says:

      Even though those patterns share common geometry they are different colorways. Ultimately, unless you can get the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy to adopt a new Army pattern, you haven’t solved anything. When an implementation date was stripped from the 2014 NDAA, it became ineffective. In fact, it baca me a tool to maintain the status quo. So long as you have one or more services who refuse to change, the notion of a common DoD camouflage will not come to fruition. Additionally, I do not understand this acceptance I am seeing of adopting a inferior pattern(s). I am amazed at the number of commenters who are more than willing to compromise performance to placate.

      • JBAR says:

        SSD, thank you for the reply. My statement and questions were not meant to be a compromise. It was to explore the different avenues available and the pros and cons of each. It was a question of what has the best chance to get an all service adoption. I think it woyld be far easier to get the mentioned scenario approved, if that would be the best outcome for the currenbt situation. I think having all services adopt Multicam would be far more improbible. As far as I understand, the decision for not accepting the outcome of the Phase IV tests and the financial deal that went along with it (640,000 est), is still ambiguous. It is obviously the best decision. It seems like the Army is afraid of finalising the Phase IV test because for the backlash of a few things: the money spent for the test, rekindling the past waste(s) of UCP and the other camo tests leading up to and after it’s adoption, as stated by others in this thread, the butt hurt to the Army of Multicam winning the Phase IV test, and finally the aspect of the perceived waste of the Phase IV test concluding the a camo that was the winner was already being used by the Army. It seems like the Army wanted to adopt Multicam, but was/is not able to right now. Is service-wide adoption probability the overriding factor, is the financial cheapness of just recoloring UCP the overriding factor, or is it the Army having the financial dispute with Cyre? Who is calling the shots; politicians, DOD brass, or Army brass? I do not want to redirect the best decision, but I do want to better understand each perspective. Finally, I cannot believe how the Army has and continues to screw up camp. It is like the Air Force screwing up their fighters, or the Navy screwing up their destroyers. Camo uniforms are the basic necessity and basic survivability to the warfighters.

        • SSD says:

          I’ve gone over this multiple times. If the overwhelming interest is in fact cost, then the best COA is for the Army to hammer out a deal with Crye in order to capitalize on the $1Bn-plus investment in OCP they’ve made over the past four years.

  48. JBAR says:

    SSD, having LTC O’Neil and Mr. Gordon commenting in this thread is outstanding! Mr. Cramer adding his comments has made for a well rounded insight into this entire camo cluster F$%k. Now, if we could get some direct Multicam injection, it would complete the series. That would be great to get them in here also……

    • Tim O'Neill says:

      I’ll add a parable about a camouflage test that may well qualify as the Worst Test Ever. f you wade through this, you will start understand some of the challenges and land mines.

      Back in the late 70’s, while I was on a sabbatical from the Army getting another degree, there was a comparison test run in Germany by the US/NATO to select a vehicle pattern to replace the old Fort Belvoir 4-color design. Having a different pattern for each NATO signatory was not a great idea, if only because it gave the Soviets a clear intelligence signature. (One seldom-used argument for having one US pattern family!) So they took target vehicles (several M109 SP 155’s), painted each one in a different pattern, and placed them in wood lines in Germany. They were photographed in 35mm (remember that?) from choppers. These shots were used in a photosimulation, and this led to the NATO-wide adoption of the three-color vehicle pattern (dark green, brown, and black). I advised the test sponsor against this methodology, for reasons stated in my first post: it could not tell us what was better or worse about any pattern/color combination.

      My contact at Leavenworth was an old friend from Viet Nam. He argued that this wasn’t important because “this is a field test, not a scientific experiment.” Take-away: the rules of scientific inquiry were developed to keep you from looking like a horse’s ass after you’ve spent a lot of money to produce garbage. Oh, well.

      Flash forward eight years. I was back at West Point doing a study for ARI on predicting soldier target detection skill. I needed a bunch of test slides. As it happens, the slides used in the old test were gathering dust at Belvoir. They happily gave me the whole box.

      Something looked funny–several things, actually. First, getting a large tracked artillery piece into a tree line meant either making tracks in the grass to get in from the front or knocking down trees to get in from the rear. They chose the latter, so it was usually easy to find the target just by looking for the groove of downed trees through the woods.

      But wait! There’s more! I looked at the slides and blinked a couple of time, then examined them under a stereomicroscope at medium magnification. The little globules of dye (conventional film doesn’t have pixels, it has globules) were so large in comparison with the size of the target image, it was impossible to see which pattern was which. The only variable was the overall brightness of the target. The test was garbage (in the trade. we pronounce this word to rhyme with “mirage”). And thousands of vehicles were pained with a design that could have been much better.

      I think we made that mistake in the Army test. What happened was that fully-developed (and unchangeable for test purposes) commercial entries were compared using a variety of methods. As noted above, this prevents us from knowing exactly what is good or bad about an entry. If we knew this, it would be possible to modify and test more than once to develop the best possible design.

      This is called developmental testing. Unfortunately, it’s hard in cases like this to do the right thing because it runs counter to the realities of the procurement system. So now we’re sort of shooting in the dark–as usual.

      Another problem we always face is a mixed approach to what the problem is and what the desired outcome should be. Is the goal to save money/reduce the soldier’s clothing bag? Is it to make soldiers feel good because their uniforms are cool? These are good goals in their way. But I’m really just a soldier with a PHD, and I spent my youth being shot at. I think the goal should be reducing the probability of being compromised and shot.

      In addition, we’re now sliding into a “do something, anything, but get it over with” mentality. That’s a fatal mistake. Let’s keep our eyes on the real goal, however that may conflict with our attention spans.

      Then again, the results of a massive test like the recent effort are going to be ambiguous. The four competing designs were all pretty good or they wouldn’t have made the cutoff. What is “best” is a complicated question, involving a lot of factors (like the multispectral arguments above). This needs to be sorted out against combat needs and scenarios, which requires some tough analysis and gaming and threat assessment. That’s what needs to be going on now, not the discussions that are dominating the debate.

      Finally, the best camouflage uniforms possible with current technology are not GI-proof. If you stand out in front of a tree line, you will look like an idiot in a cool outfit, and will quickly look like a dead idiot in a cool outfit. Camouflage isn’t just a suit of clothes–it’s also doctrine and training, both of which could use a thorough relook.

      Take a deep breath. There is a real danger right at this moment that the Army will make a decision based on the wrong things. (It’s a tradition, after all!) We can avoid that, but only if we reduce noise and replace it with careful thought and discussion.

      I’ve been around since Buddha was in boot camp, and I’m not optimistic.

      • JBAR says:

        LTCOL O’Neil thank you for the response and great additional information.

      • majrod says:

        “we’re now sliding into a “do something, anything, but get it over with” mentality. That’s a fatal mistake.”

        “This needs to be sorted out against combat needs and scenarios, which requires some tough analysis and gaming and threat assessment.”

        Those points need to be made again as they will surely be forgotten as they were with the proposed budget cuts.

        Thanks LTC O’Neil!

  49. Jim says:

    Just for clarification, and not exactly on thread, British army vehicles never used a 3 colour camo for vehicles. Just green base and black stripes.

    • Jim says:

      But not stripes per se, that alludes to tiger like stripes, something we were banned from doing, I only ever saw one Challenger tank in tiger stripes at the armoured trials and development unit!

      We were also supposed to avoid painting to a template….that never worked…uniformity don’t you know….so you could identify which Squadron the tank belonged to by the cam scheme…in my old regiment anyway.

  50. JBAR says:

    SSD, LTCOL O’Neil, & Mr. Gordon,
    I agree that the adoption of the best camo should be the only factor, but, seeing that the current situation has been all over the place, is there any indication to what the current driving factor is? Is service-wide adoption probability the overriding factor, is the financial cheapness of just recoloring UCP the overriding factor, is it the Army having the financial dispute with Cyre, is it political backlash of current and past debackles and costs, or is it a combination? Who is calling the shots: politicians, DOD brass, or Army brass?

    • SSD says:

      I don’t think anybody really knows what the real issue is at this point. Incompetence combined with institutional momentum along with a smidgen of anti-industry bias and personal agenda have gotten us where we are. This is what indecision breeds.

      • JBAR says:

        SSD, thank you.

        • majrod says:

          JBAR good question. Don’t underestimate good old CYA determining decisions. E.G. “What’s least likely to get questioned or avoid a butt chewing from Congress, the boss, my rater.

          Off topic but working on FCS the powers that be hated when my study results pointed out 5 man APCs don’t carry enough grunts, bigger squads are better, robots sometimes cost you people (operators) and the technology isn’t going to tell you where all the bad guys are. I just didn’t give a rip but I paid a price.

          The decision to not release the results of Phase IV strikes me as falling along the “wet finger in the wind” school of leadership.

      • Brandon says:

        Can you expand on the personal agenda aspect? The rest of the colossus of incompetence is comprehensible. Is this is a case of “follow the money”? Or is a hubris laden warped dick-length measuring contest amongst staff Colonels and Generals that affects about a million active and reserve component Soldiers?

        • SSD says:

          There’s nobody on the take (except me, if you believe one commenter). It’s more of a “fuck industry” attitude.

          • Brandon says:

            Thanks for the clarification.

            I’m so glad that demonstrably superior COTS is rejected in favor of marginal designed by committee government product that fails to launch. Repeatedly.

            There will be no one held accountable because I’ve yet to see anyone has the guts to put their name to a decision or indecision.

            It’s almost as though the USAF acquisitions system dysfunction syndrome has become metastasized across DoD.

            • Tim O'Neill says:

              “Never attribute to conspiracy or greed what can be explained adequately by stupidity.”

    • Tim O'Neill says:

      Beats me. I’ve been out of the loop since T&E started.