Say Goodbye to the Hated Army UCP Uniform

Capt. Darren Guree and Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Dennis of 112th Signal Batt. (Special Operations) (Airborne) - Special Operations Command Pacific, Signal Support Det, discuss the team's progress during Hammerhead Field Training Exercise/Situational Training Exercise 17-2, March 30, 2017. Capt. Darren Guree, left, is wearing the pixelated Universal Camouflage Pattern uniform. (U.S. Navy photo/Cynthia Z. De Leon)
Capt. Darren Guree and Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Dennis of 112th Signal Batt. (Special Operations) (Airborne) - Special Operations Command Pacific, Signal Support Det, discuss the team's progress during Hammerhead Field Training Exercise/Situational Training Exercise 17-2, March 30, 2017. Capt. Darren Guree, left, is wearing the pixelated Universal Camouflage Pattern uniform. (U.S. Navy photo/Cynthia Z. De Leon)

It blended in well with grandma's couch, but had its drawbacks in the combat zone.

After an extended wear-out period, the Army's pixelated Universal Camouflage Pattern uniform, or UCP, is officially a thing of the past. As of Oct. 1, all soldiers are required to possess and wear the green-and-brown Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform, or OCP.

The UCP uniform, introduced in 2004, long faced criticism for its failure to blend in where it counted.

"Standard-issue uniforms come instead in a pixelated marble of gray and khaki, as if they were made to blend into a gravel pit or a slice of Valdeon cheese," a Slate article commented in 2012.

Related: Navy Says Goodbye to the 'Blueberry' Camouflage Uniform

With its trendy pattern, the UCP uniform cost a widely reported $5 billion to develop and make, and quickly developed a reputation as a boondoggle.

As early as 2010, the Army was sending soldiers to Afghanistan in a different camouflage uniform, MultiCam, from Crye Precision. And the hunt was already on to find a long-term UCP replacement.

After five years of testing and evaluation, the service selected the OCP to be the UCP's permanent successor in 2015.

"The Operational Camouflage Pattern was selected following the most comprehensive uniform camouflage testing effort ever undertaken by the Army, reflecting the Army's paramount commitment to force protection," service officials wrote in a 2015 news release.

Members of Congress, feeling burned by the whole ordeal, introduced a series of provisions aimed at slowing wasteful spending. A provision in an early version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act aimed to stop the Defense Department from developing any new camouflage uniforms without notifying Congress ahead of time. An item in the 2019 NDAA called for the Army to find a way to re-dye its old and useless UCP stocks with new patterns to prevent waste.

It didn't help matters that the Navy was contending with its own uniform boondoggle. Oct. 1 is also the retirement date for the blue camouflage Navy Working Uniform Type I, or "blueberries." Critics of the uniform joked that the camouflage was only effective when a sailor fell overboard.

During a transition period that began in July 2015, soldiers were permitted to wear UCPs with sand-colored T-shirt, belt and boots. Starting today, however, all soldiers are required to possess and wear the OCP with T-shirt and belt in "Tan 499" and boots in coyote brown.

The one exception the Army has dictated pertains to cold-weather gear: Soldiers are permitted to wear OCPs with warm UCP-patterned cold-weather items, according to a 2015 release.

Army officials did not respond by deadline to a query about the timeline for fielding OCP-patterned cold-weather items to all units.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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