Another interesting aspect of the Army's formal announcement to industry on its search for new camo patterns to replace the UCP is the lack of an emphasis on the word "universal."
Never did Col. Bill Cole, the program manager running this effort, mention an Army desire for an all-in-one pattern. He made sure to emphasize that the service wanted companies to provide their ideas on three clothing camos and one pattern used across all three for gear such as body armor, pouches and hydration systems.
I asked Cole about this after the event and he said that hey, if a company out there can beat all comers with a single pattern in all the representative environments, then we're in. But if you read the details of the test and evaluation procedures posted by our friends at Soldier Systems Daily, the system seems to be rigged in favor of a true "family" of camos.
That said, both Cole and his right hand man, Lt. Col. Mike Sloane, speculated that if these patterns are adopted, we're likely to see a lot more of the so called "transitional" pattern than the woodland/jungle or desert/arid. They said discussions are still ongoing about what the exact purchase strategy would be, but suffice it to say it's far more likely the Army will issue the transitional pattern to all Joes and keep the greens and tans in reserve for particular AOs and seasons. So, in short, they are kind of looking for a universal pattern, but they want to have some others that work better in more specific environments.
Another interesting tidbit is that the Army is open to picking one pattern from four different vendors if those prove to be best. In other words, if the Army likes Hyperstealth's woodland pattern, Crye's desert pattern and Bulldog Tactical's transitional pattern -- and oh yeah, A-TACS OCIE pattern -- they'll draft contracts for all four. Though this would be entirely too cumbersome and fraught with technical, cost and legal peril, the Army is at least explicitly open to the idea, however unlikely.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Be sure to read today's story on Military.com about the overall Army camouflage Phase IV program. There are some contextual facts in there that might help Kit Up! readers, but you've likely seen this all before.