The U.S. Army's top officer says the service is poised to pick a new camouflage pattern for uniforms.
The selection comes after tests showed the existing design, a grayish-green digital pattern that appears on the standard-issue fatigues known as the Army Combat Uniform, or ACU, was poorly suited for environments such as Afghanistan, according to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno.
"It's the wrong color," Odierno said during a May 7 breakfast with reporters. "It's not the right patterns," he said. "Every test we've done [says] it's wrong. So we're going to come up with a new pattern."
The service may spend as much as $4 billion over the next five years to replace its uniform and related protective gear, according to a September report from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
Military.com last month reported that Army Secretary John McHugh was briefed on Gen. Odierno's recommended replacement for the so-called Universal Camouflage Pattern, which the service adopted in 2004 to replace its woodland and desert camouflage uniforms.
The Army last year awarded contracts to develop new camouflage designs to four companies: Crye Precision LLC, ADS Inc., Brookwood Companies Inc. and Kryptek Outdoor Group.
Odierno didn't specify which design or designs he recommended, only that the existing pattern was insufficient.
"All the testing we've done say it doesn't work in environments," he said. "It puts our soldiers at risk. That's why we changed the uniform in Afghanistan. So to me, it's a low-cost, almost no-cost, solution to change it. It's the right thing to do."
The Army in 2010 selected a design called MultiCam, which is popular with Special Operations Forces, for soldiers deploying to Afghanistan.
All four services wore the same Army Battle Dress and Desert Camouflage patterns before the Marine Corps introduced their own digital patterns in 2002. The move left Army, Air Force and Navy scrambling to provide their troops service-specific camouflage patterns, the GAO said.
Government auditors recommended for the military services to work together to develop camouflage uniforms. By not doing so, they stand to lose "millions of dollars in potential cost savings," according to the report.