One of the most frustrating aspects of the Army's switch to MultiCam, aka the OEF FR-ACU, or "OhFracYou," is the fact that PEO Soldier has prioritized the fielding of said-patterned gear to troops about to deploy, then will field the MC duds to troops in theater based on the logistics capability of each of the regional commands.
PEO has also established a cutoff date for units in Afghanistan who'll get the MC suites to those units with more than 120 days left on their deployment as of November 2010.
This is disappointing news to Joes caught in the middle of this arbitrary fielding policy, forcing units to fight for nearly a year with uniforms in camo schemes the Army's top experts have admitted aren't as effective in the varied environments of Afghanistan as the replacement MultiCam.
That conundrum has been compounded by commanders who refuse to allow their troops -- who are in firefights with enemy insurgents every day -- to wear any piece of MultiCam at all until the official fielding by the Army of the entire ensemble of PEO-supplied gear.
We spoke with a dozen Soldiers in Task Force Rakkasan and the 3rd Battalion of the 187th Infantry Regiment who were told they could not wear a single thread of MultiCam on their combat operations since the Army hadn't fielded it unit-wide, and several officers we spoke with were actually reprimanded for wearing plate carriers, hydration bladders, pouches and other uniform items in MultiCam during operations. One senior NCO we spoke with admitted he'd purchased his own MultiCam ensemble for $1,600 which was now gathering dust in his bunk.
The order came straight from the top, from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team's commander, Col. Viet Luong. In his old-school Army way, he ordered that all Soldiers look the same, regardless of what camo testers back at Belvoir deemed most effective for the region 3rd BCT is fighting in.
"No one is supposed to have MultiCam items or wear them on missions. The purpose of the uniform is just that: to be uniform," said 3rd BCT spokesman, Maj. Justin Platt. "In this case, all Rakkasan soldiers have been issued the necessary ACU print uniforms and equipment to accomplish any mission."Platt, who's a straight shooter and honest broker of info from his commander Luong, said that BCT leaders were concerned that Soldiers who donned their own MultiCam would stick out from the rest and be at greater risk than their comrades.
I can see that, except on the flip side, the Army has tacitly admitted that Soldiers who wear UCP would be at greater risk -- otherwise why field a new camo scheme for the theater?
It's the old-school Army rearing its ugly head, and the standard of uniformity winning over combat effectiveness.
And don't think for one second that if you're an Army FOBBIT at Bagram you'll get to wear your MultiCams (assuming you meet the criteria when they're handed out to in-theater troops in November). The TF82nd Command Sergeant Major has deemed no Soldiers may wear MultiCam at Bagram except if they are "on their way to R&R or traveling under similar circumstances," Platt said.
Yet another reason to stay as far away from BAF as possible.