Here's a little tit-for-tat I wrote for Military.com yesterday on what CSM of the Army Ken Preston told me (others have used this as their lede but make no mistake, it was my question *patting self on back*)when I tried to pin him down on whether the new Army camo for Afghanistan made Soldiers safer:
During a telephone interview with reporters in which the Army highlighted its first fielding of the so-called "OEF Camouflage Pattern," or OCP, Command Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston told Military.com he believed the service was right to shift away from the universal camouflage pattern adopted in 2005 to the MultiCam scheme that blends into a wider variety of backgrounds in Afghanistan.If you'll remember, Kit Up! got into a little scrape back in June when we reported that Soldiers we'd embedded with had been reprimanded by their brigade commander, Col. Viet Luong, for wearing MultiCam items.
"The OCP allows the Soldiers to get far closer to potential enemies before being observed," Preston said. "I believe [Soldiers] are safer" wearing the OCP.
The decorated infantry commander wrote a strong response to Kit Up! on this issue, equating MultiCam with "cool guy gear" and saying it hadn't been proven more effective than UCP "beyond the lab." I wrote a response agreeing with him on some points, but taking issue with others.
But the senior enlisted advisor to the chief of staff of the Army affirmed to me on Tuesday that troops were stealthier in MultiCam in Afghanistan and that indeed -- as we all know -- the camo had been proven not just in the field, but in Afghanistan itself (the program manager at PEO Soldier and some other snake eater types took it to a variety of combat AOs late last year and stood there like pop-up targets for the Taliban while a photographer took snaps to compare the patterns).
And note this walk-off from PEO's Staff Sgt. Corp -- and it speaks to the general attitude of the guys from the 101st we spent many hours talking to and running around the hills with. They feel gypped that they're deployment doesn't fall within the window that troops actually fighting right now in Afghanistan will get their OCP uniforms and gear.
"Soldiers are getting a better trust in their uniform for Afghanistan," said Staff Sgt. Will Corp, an enlisted advisor to PEO Soldier for gear modernization. "With an enhanced camouflage capability, it's also going to boost morale. And that's also going to help us win."Interestingly, when it's been body armor or MRAPs or radios or helmets, it's always been that the guys in theater are the priority, not the dudes with nary a scuff on their boots.
Officials say it's because the Army wants to save local commanders the hassle of doing a re-issue. But one has to wonder if there's a little institutional sour grapes going on here.