Army Selects New Camouflage Patterns

The Jan. 10 announcement is the result of the Army’s exhaustive Phase IV Camouflage effort. The five vendors have been awarded contracts to make camouflage-patterned material for uniforms and equipment that will be field-tested later this year, uniform officials say.

One of the companies chosen is Crye Precision LLC out of Brooklyn, N.Y. Crye invented MultiCam, a camouflage pattern that the Army chose in early 2010 to replace the services’ Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, in Afghanistan.

Three other commercial companies were also chosen:

ADS, Inc. (teamed with Hyperstealth, Inc.) - Virginia Beach, Va.

Brookwood Companies, Inc- New York, N.Y.

Kryptek, Inc. - Fairbanks, Alaska

The fifth finalist is a government pattern developed at U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, Mass.
“These selectees were chosen following a rigorous technical evaluation backed by solid scientific analyses and incorporating critical Soldier input from the field,” Program Executive Soldier spokeswoman Debi Dawson said in the media announcement.

On Oct. 31, Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno approved the plan to continue forward with the testing of the five patterns. It's still unclear; however, whether the Army will replace will replace the UCP.

Each finalist submitted a family of camouflage patterns for desert, woodland, and transitional along with a single coordinated pattern for individual equipment such as body armor and load-bearing gear so soldiers wouldn’t have to change out their kit from one environment to the next. Rangers units, for some time, have worn equipment in a shade known as “Ranger green.” And Marines chose coyote brown to wear with its woodland and desert camo uniforms.

Once the camouflage uniforms are produced, the field trials and other evaluations could take up nine months to complete, Dawson said. The Army will then conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the Army will adopt a new camouflage pattern.

Earlier this fall, Army uniform officials recently wrapped up tests in which 900 soldiers completed a digital picture survey of camouflage patterns under consideration. The computerized survey that had soldiers look at dozens of camouflage patterns and then rate their concealment performance.

The Army launched the camouflage effort in response to a June-2009 inquiry by Pennsylvania's Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who was then chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Murtha pushed the service to look for a better camouflage pattern after receiving complaints from sergeants about the UCP's poor performance in the warzone.

Murtha, died Feb. 8, 2010, just 11 days before the Army approved its plan to issue new uniforms in the MultiCam pattern to Soldiers in Afghanistan.