The U.S. Army’s soldiers will be getting new uniforms – eventually. The current Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), made of a digitally-composed color pattern, has not proven quite as universal as hoped. It is a fine uniform, ironically, for only a limited environment – the urban. Otherwise, it doesn’t quite cut it. It is too light for forest or jungle environments. It is not brown enough for Afghanistan, and not tan enough for the desert.
Providing soldiers with a proper uniform camouflage is much harder than one might think. Finding an acceptable pattern takes a lot of work, and experience in World War II and Vietnam has shown that different places require different patterns, A universal pattern was a good idea on paper, but not in practice. Soldiers now deploying to Afghanistan are already getting their new MultiCam duds. MultiCam looks to me a bit more like modern German camouflage.
The whole story has made me wonder what caused them to change in the first place. Three-color desert was fine for Iraq, but then the Army went to UCP. Simply enhancing this pattern with more brown would have been effective for Afghanistan. UCP was one of those things that must have sounded great, but did not work more effectively than specific solutions tailored for a particular theater.
I have been looking over even older patterns too, and I can’t help but think that the 1981 woodland pattern was great. Not without flaws, but good for an enormous range of environments. I also think that the so-called chocolate chip pattern uniform (Desert Storm) was effective.
In any event, this is being called a $5 billion mistake. Check out this article.