Archive for 27, September 2009

The future of the US Army uniform

Posted in army life, army training, guns, HOOAH!, rankers, tech pron, Uncategorized, War On Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27, September 2009 by chockblock

Right now the US military sits at a three-way intersection: two wars, a faltering economy and a desperate need to balance the budget.

Ever since WW II, the services have dug in their heels. The latest example is uniforms. The US Marines came up with MARPAT in the early 2000’s. The Army followed suit with it’s Universal Camouflage Pattern. Made up of a “foliage” green, tans and grey, it was supposed to blend in with “any” environment. Most observers, soldiers and net users noticed that the pattern did not blend in with anything.

Army Combat Uniform

Army Combat Uniform

In tests around 2003-4, the pattern that became UCP was dead last in testing. Recent tests have confirmed what many already know: UCP sticks out in the woods and the desert. The Army Combat Uniform has many detractors, but many settle on the camo pattern that seems to stick out like a sore thumb.

Enter Congress.

The conferees understand that soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have serious concerns about the current combat uniform which they indicate provides ineffective camouflage given the environment in Afghanistan. Accordingly, the conferees direct that within funding made available the Department of Defense take immediate action to provide combat unifonns to personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.

The conferees further direct the Secretary of the Anny to provide a report on the program plans and budgetary adjustments necessary to provide appropriate unifonns to deployed and deploying troops to Afghanistan. The report shall be submitted to the congressional defense committees by the end of fiscal year 2009.
–Congress Doesn’t Dig UCP – Orders New Camo for A’stan, Militarytimes Gear Scout, quotes HR 2346 Conference Report

After much prodding by Congress, PEO Soldiers and Natick did a new series of tests. UCP did not do well. In response, they’ve developed a new camo scheme for Afghanistan. The tested the ACU, low and behold, it was once again last in the testing:

Overall performance of camo patterns

Overall performance of camo patterns

Now MultiCam was developed by Crye Associates and the US Army’s Natick labs. It looks like a good camo pattern. from the above chart, it is clear that MulitCam preforms well.

US soldiers demo MultiCam

US soldiers demo MultiCam

The Army’s response? The ugly UCP-D. Natick tried to put lipstick in the pig by adding “coyote brown” to UCP. The result? I think this sums it up.

“ACU’s work a lot better when they are dirty – looks like Natick made permanently dirty ACU’s and called it a fix”

UCP-D with and without the new IOTV

UCP-D with and without the new IOTV

IMHO, the Army should have just taken MARPAT and changed it, removing the “Eagle, Globe and Anchor”, replaceing it with a star and “US ARMY”. That would have saved money. But alas…

The Army is sending two units into Afghanistan, one with UCP-D and another with Multicam. What is interesting is that BAE systems has a fat contract to make MOLLE gear in Multicam for this test.

Meanwhile, most of us in the rank and file will just sigh and cue up to buy whatever is in clothing and sales.

Here is a link to Natick’s tests:
Photosimulation Camouflage Detection Test

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