It's amazing that the Army's camouflage is still in the news after five years. That's how long its been since the Army first acknowledged that it had to do something about its ineffective Universal Camouflage Pattern.
Crye Precision LLC -- the creator of MultiCam -- finally spoke out on the Army's attempts to adopt the pattern for service-use in the form of a chronological account of the Army's attempts to "negotiate" with Crye over the price of MultiCam. I talked to Caleb Crye yesterday for my story that ran this morning on Military.com.
What seems to be at the heart of this issue is Army uniform officials can't seem to accept that they have to pay more for MultiCam than they did for UCP.
Really? Let's do the math here. After at least five scientific studies -- four by the Army and at least one by special operations forces -- MultiCam has outperformed UCP and performed as well or better than many other patterns on the market today. Is it that much of a surprise that vendors are going to charge up to 20 percent more for uniforms and gear printed in MultiCam than they would for the same stuff in UCP?
There has been a lot of talk about the "royalties" that Crye Precision receives from MultiCam sales. According to Caleb, those numbers are highly inflated. He lays out pretty clearly that the "printing fees" he receives account for about one percent of the 20 percent price hike uniform companies want to charge the Army for MultiCam.
"They attributed the cost difference to us incorrectly," said a clearly frustrated Crye official during a March 19 phone interview with Military.com. "The Army doesn't get its uniforms from Crye yet it is complaining to us that the uniforms cost more. We don't control how vendors price things."
So instead of paying for the extra money for a sold performer, the Army pressed Crye for a figure the Army could pay to own the rights for brand MultiCam, and essentially Crye Precision LLC itself. I can't imagine how that would work, since MultiCam is so widely sold on the commercial market.
The Army rejected Crye's $25 million figure and offered no counter proposal, according to Crye. What's really confusing is why the Army expects industry to grant it favors and discounts when the Army continues to ask companies to spend their own money to develop gear and weapons for programs the service isn't serious about fielding.
Now the Army is planning more camouflage tests. I understand the financial challenges the Army is facing, but this is still an easy problem to solve. The Army should negotiate the best price it can get from industry and field MultiCam to the entire force -- the soldiers are worth it.