UPDATED: Details on Army's New Afghanistan Duds



No posts earlier today because I attended a detailed briefing with Army officials about their new program to field two new uniforms in Afghanistan to see if an alternative to the UCP is needed. We reported this earlier with the help of our friends at Soldier Systems, and in the interest of full disclosure, I need to give credit to my good friend Matt Cox at Army Times who broke the story.

Here's an excerpt of tomorrow's lead story on Military.com:

The Army is set to field new combat uniforms to two battalions in Afghanistan next month in an effort to better equip combat troops fighting in the varied terrain found in that rugged climate.

For years some Soldiers had complained about the current multi-environment Universal Camouflage Pattern, arguing the toned down grey and green stood out in desert environments, rocky ridges and forested valleys found throughout eastern Afghanistan where most Army units now operate.

The new camo schemes include the Crye Precision-made MultiCam and a new pattern designed by the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Massachusetts.

MultiCam was designed several years ago with the help of Natick and is popular with special operations forces in the Army and Air Force -- with some operators already wearing the squiggly brown, tan and green uniforms in Afghan combat.

Natick also developed a new variation of the UCP by adding coyote tan to the pattern, and will field the so-called UCP-Delta alongside the MultiCam one.

"We're trying not to just deal with anecdotal information," said Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, chief of the Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, during a Sept. 16 briefing with reporters at the Pentagon. "Just because someone else might be wearing something doesn't mean that that is the best for all the environments."

And Matt also broke the story of a 2009 study completed by Natick that showed the MultiCam performed better than a bunch of patterns as a "universal" camo and that MARPAT, Desert Brush and a Syrian scheme killed the UCP in almost all scenes. I obtained a copy of the study and I'd like to share it with our readers to do their own analysis...there's a ton of data, but here's the jist:
Though Army officials are loath to admit the UCP's shortcomings, a 2009 Natick study showed the current uniform performing worse than four other commercially available patterns in all environments, including urban, desert and woodland.

The study, which was first reported by the Army Times and a copy of which was obtained by Military.com, said MultiCam performed best as a universal pattern.

"If Army leadership desires a to maintain a single, multi-environment camouflage pattern for combat missions, data from this evaluation show the MultiCam pattern is the best overall, readily available pattern," the study said.

The study indicated that the Marine Corps desert digital pattern, or MARPAT, and another pattern called Desert Brush performed best in arid and urban environments, while the MultiCam "was not as good as MARPAT and Desert Brush patterns it was significantly better than both patterns in two out of three woodland scenes," the study said.

Both desert MARPAT and Desert Brush performed better than the UCP in eight of nine scenes testers evaluated, while MultiCam performed better than UCP in seven of nine scenes.

Photosimulation Camouflage Detection Test

Please be sure to read the entire story at Military.com on Sept. 17.

(Photo: C. Todd Lopez)

-- Christian

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