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Posts Tagged ‘Camo Wars’

US Army Pits “Analog vs Digital” in Upcoming Camouflage Bookend Tests

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Nearly as soon as I had found out that the Army was planning to transition from the dreaded UCP camouflage to Scorpion, I found out about the upcoming “Book End” pattern tests scheduled for August – October of this year. When you see what they’ll be testing, you aren’t going to believe it.

US Army Camo Bookend Tests

Naturally, the baseline transitional pattern will be Scorpion (w2) and the Army will consider uniforms and limited OCIE items (such as helmet covers, etc) in MARPAT desert and woodland. ALso under consideration are the legacy 3-color Desert and Woodland (M81 to Camo collectors), both of which were previously displaced by the adoption of the Universal Camouflage Pattern beginning in 2004.

Initially, I didn’t get the pattern choices until someone put it into perspective for me. I kept saying to myself that someone in the Army sure wanted to adopt MARPAT but then I noticed that they aren’t looking at AOR 1&2. While AOR 1 and MARPAT desert are very similar patterns, AOR 2 was specifically tuned to use in jungle environments. The developers even turned the pattern 90 degrees to give it a more vertical orientation. MARPAT woodland on the other hand is a much more generic woodland pattern.

Since the woodland aspects of this testing are being driven by requirements out of the new Army Jungle School at Schoffield Barracks in Hawaii, jungle performance is going to have a lot of weight. With its more Green coloring, chances are very good that AOR 2 would outperform MARPAT woodland.

What I see going in here is something altogether different. After speaking with others, I see a test that pits “analog vs digital” and the Army is out to put us all out of “digital” misery.

If you look at MARPAT as the “digital” solution and 3-color and Woodland as the “analog” solution you can begin to see a method to the madness. Since Scorpion also looks analog in nature, adoption of the two other analog patterns creates a new “family of camouflage” that offers similar design elements if not outright geometry.

As I said before, a lot of credence is being placed on the needs of the Jungle School which has already scoured DLA stocks for the last of the woodland EHWBDUs in stock. They’ve been issuing them out to students for some time now and by all accounts are very happy with Woodland’s performance in jungle. As it should be, since Woodland is son of ERDL. It’s also important to note that Woodland isn’t completely dead. It’s still an issue pattern. There is an Army G1 message that still authorizes Woodland for jungle use due to UCP’s poor performance in that environment. Consequently, based on these two factors (creation of analog family and Jungle School use of Woodland), my money is on the “analog” solution.

My prediction? It’s back to the future with a Scorpion transitional pattern bookended by 3-color Desert and Woodland. Time will tell if I’m right. At any rate, I’m giddy (yes, I said “giddy”) that the Army is moving out swiftly to adopt more effective camouflage for their troops.

Blast From The Past – Camo Rumors From August 2009

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

I ran across this gem the other day while looking for scorpion photos on SSD. This story goes back to when this latest round of Camo Wars began in 2009. Look what the prevailing thought was. Turns out, the Afghanistan was much larger than this, throwing in several additional patterns, Here we are, almost five years on and it looks to have turned out to be a Scorpion variant of all things.

In light of an impending directive from Congress to the Army to get their camo house in order, rumors continue to circulate about an upcoming test involving four camo patterns with the Army’s current Universal Camouflage pattern serving as a control.

The four patterns are MARPAT-Woodland, MARPAT-Desert, Multicam, and Desert All Over Brush (seen below). Originally, we had heard that the fourth pattern would be the 3-color Desert pattern issued to all services prior to adoption of their new distinctive uniforms. However, based on some recent, unverified information we believe it is actually the Desert All Over Brush which interestingly gave a very good showing during the Army camo trials of 2003-2004. According to a Natick report, a modified variant of the Desert version All Over Bush pattern performed best in all environments. You can also access a briefing presented on the subject at the 2004 International Soldier Systems Conference here.

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Based on a series of evaluations documented in the report and briefing slides Natick developed the variant of All Over Brush pattern.

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Having said all of that, the info on that particular pattern is old news. At some point in the Spring of 2004, the Army took a serious sidestep from all of its research and adopted UCP. if the rumors are true, looking at what is on the table, neither Marine patterns would really be considered serious candidates due to a variety of morale, and as we have discussed before, branding issues. You think the black beret issue was rough, imagine the outcry from two services if the Army adopted a Marine camo pattern. Consequently, while effective, we don’t consider the MARPAT variants as serious contenders. This leaves, depending on who is telling the story, either 3-color Desert which is still used by some US Navy forces (and a few others) or the prototype Desert All Over brush pattern in addition to Crye’s Multicam. While there are limited stocks of 3-color equipment still in the system, virtually none of it is in the configuration currently used by US forces. If it were adopted, the US Soldier would literally take a five year step back in capability until production of current issue equipment could be accomplished. Additionally, there is a political dimension to such a move. UCP was sold as a superior pattern to both Woodland and 3-Color Desert. Someone would naturally ask the question of why the Army discarded a pattern in favor of something less effective.

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This leaves Desert All Over Brush and Multicam. Multicam has been used operationally by select US forces to great success and even more importantly, is currently supported by the US industrial base. A wide variety of Berry Compliant products (and raw materials) are available as COTS items. Additionally, industry already offers versions of current issue equipment in Multicam. Furthermore, there are numerous lightweight and multi-purpose Soldier Systems items designed specifically for environments like Afghanistan. Multicam is a mature, widely available, low hanging fruit. On the other hand, adoption of Desert All Over Brush would require long lead times as fabric mills first perfect and then produce sufficient quantities of materials. Only then could uniforms and equipment for our Soldiers begin to be procured.

We are waiting with bated breath to see if these rumors are true and what’s more, if they are, what will come of them. Naturally, Soldier Systems Daily will keep you updated.

And we’ve been keeping you updated ever since.

Hey Anthony – ETADIK

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

It’s Scorpion – go choke on a fat one.

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In the post where I suggested that readers go ask their CSM which Camo the Army had chosen, Anthony decided that I was an attention whore that was crying wolf. If you know Anthony give him a swift kick in his fourth point of contact for me.

Want To Know Which Camouflage Pattern The US Army Picked?

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Ask your Sergeant Major, he knows should know. In several commands the CSM has already informed senior NCOs of the Army’s decision.

Is The Cat Out Of The Camo Bag?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Attendees at today’s change of responsibility ceremony for PEO Soldier’s APM for Clothing and Individual Equipment under PM SPIE from LTC Wallace to the incoming LTC Bryan, claim that an announcement was made regarding the Army’s path forward for camouflage.

This is moving fast and we know some in industry are already receiving notification of the change. In fact, the mills already have fabric orders. Go Army!

Lest we forget, congrats to LTC Bryan.

We’ll keep you posted.

And The Next US Army Camouflage Is…

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

If you find yourself this far into any over-schedule undertaking such as replacing the camouflage for the US Army, you will constantly hear rumors of anticipated announcement dates and speculative pattern types. Why, just a week or so ago I was told that the Army was going to make a camouflage decision on May 5th.

At this point I’m jaded, so I flippantly shrugged the information off. After all, hadn’t the Army just started their reexamination of the entire camouflage process a mere two months ago? And hadn’t Phase IV taken two years? Two months vs two years. It just didn’t add up. Not to mention rumored announcement dates that kept shifting to the right. Plus, May 5th? Seriously? Cinco de Mayo? What an arbitrary date, especially with the U.S. Army’s birthday coming up in June.

Then, I get a cryptic email yesterday morning. During a briefing to industry, the Commander of the Defense Logistics Agency, VADM Harnitchek announced that the Army had in fact made a camouflage decision but unfortunately, he did not know which pattern had been selected. Even if he had, as a Navy Admiral. it wasn’t his place to tell the Army’s story. The meeting was a buzz with speculation.

At this point I was thinking, “Finally, a decision…any decision.”

Who knows if the choice was actually made on Cinco de Mayo or not, but wouldn’t it be ironic if it had been? Think about it. A decision of that importance would’ve been much easier to make over a couple of shots of tequila.

But I’ve gone on long enough leading you up to the punch line of this post.

Today, Col Robert Mortlock, Program Manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment at PEO Soldier showed up to discuss Army programs. He’s just finished addressing a large ballroom filled with representatives from the military services and the industrial base that serves them. Everyone came into the room waiting to hear, right from the proverbial horse’s mouth, which Course Of Action the Army is going to take. Would it press the ‘easy button’ and choose OCP (MultiCam)? Or maybe MARPAT? Or Navy AOR? Or perhaps the Army would defy the NDAA and introduce the fabled Digital Transitional Pattern (pixelated MultiCam)? Would they be bold and go old school, announcing they had reconsidered a 2003 decision and adopt Scorpion? Or would the Senior Service just stick with status quo and remain in the dreaded UCP for garrison wear and OCP for the remainder of OEF?

Lots of options on the table.

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