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Congress Orders Army to Field MultiCam (maybe)

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We're running a story this afternoon on Military.com that talks about language inserted into the late 2009 war supplemental bill by Jack Murtha calling on the Army to study whether the current "ArPat" digital all-in-one camo pattern is the best option for troops in Afghanistan.

According our reporter Bryan Mitchell, Murtha was jaw boning with some Ranger types who complained about how the ArpPat camo stood out like a sore thumb in the craggy hills and forested vales of eastern Afghanistan.

The move in Congress was prompted by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), Chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, who said he was first made aware of the issue during a visit with a group of noncommissioned officer Rangers serving at Fort Benning, Ga.

Murtha queried Army leaders and learned the concern was not reserved to a handful of Georgia troops. Similar sentiments had been voiced throughout units with experience serving in Afghanistan.

"The reason is that the current uniform has been primarily designed for a desert combat, like in Iraq, and obviously the terrain is much different in Afghanistan," Murtha said in an e-mail to Military.com.

"I spoke to both General Casey and General Petraeus about the issue. They also have heard the same thing, said that the Army is looking into the situation, and that funding is available for new uniforms if the Army decides to go that route."

And I've heard the complaints as well. No one really understood why the Army picked the sort of old-school loden colored camo. Especially since the service had already developed the MultiCam pattern with Crye Precision and Natick.

And isn't that what it all boils down to? Everyone wants MultiCam. "Spec Ops guys get to wear it...why can't I?" I even scoped out some photos of Air Force PJs sporting MultiCam during a deployment to Djibouti. And practically every cover shot from our friends at Tactical-Life.com features a MultiCam clad "operator" firing the highest speed shorty carbine around.

Look, I like MultiCam like the rest of them. But I also understand why the Army did what it did. They spent millions of dollars and lots of time studying what would work best in a range of environments with an eye toward making the Soldier's loadout easier -- one functional combat uniform for a range of environments. MultiCam was tested alongside the current ArPat (I was at Army Times Co. when the service was deciding the pattern and was following it closely with my friend Matt Cox there) and several other options and the ArPat camo won out. It was new. It was revolutionary and it was unpopular. That's what makes me think it might have been the right choice.

But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

Also, we don't have a ton of cash lying around, and some in the Army argue that the service has spent billions fielding the new uniforms and other gear in the pattern. Unless it sticks out like a sore thumb, why spend millions more to inject another version? And keep in mind the flaming hoops the Army is being forced to jump through as a line inserted by one congressman forces them to evaluate all these uniform alternatives. Nothing's going to come of it, I guarantee you that. But Petraeus, Casey and Stevenson will have to placate the Democratic bull by saying "that's a very good idea. we'll spend time, money and resources looking into it for you, but we're still going to come up with the same answer..."

I liked the congressional intervention on the M4 carbine issue, but I don't see the sense in this one.

-- Christian

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