Less than a decade after the so-called Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, was introduced the Army is back to the drawing board, set to announce a new camouflage pattern and standard uniform to be worn by the more than million members of the active duty and reserve forces.
Evidence of the UCPs inadequacy as a combat uniform is easy to find—just look at pictures of soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan, they’re not wearing the UCP, which was deemed unsuitable for operations there, but a different uniform known as the MultiCam. In 2009, Congress responded to soldiers’ “concerns about the current combat uniform which they indicated provides ineffective camouflage given the environment in Afghanistan,” by passing a bill in the appropriations act requiring that the DOD “take immediate action to provide combat uniforms to personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.” The result was the MultiCam. But that uniform, while it is currently worn in Afghanistan, was not a replacement but an interim substitution for the UCP, which is still the Army’s official uniform and the one worn by all soldiers not overseas.
Only 5 years after it was introduced the UCP’s failures had already become glaring enough to compel congressional intervention but despite the moratorium on its use in Afghanistan, it will have taken another 5 years for the Army to field its replacement.
Eventually, after mounting criticism and reports of the uniforms problems, the Army started looking for something better. This time, instead of hoping for a universal, one-size-fits-all design, an Army source who wished to remain unnamed explained that the Army solicited designs from companies for patterns with three variations, one for the desert, another for woodlands and jungles and a third, traditional semi-wooded pattern similar to the one currently used by soldiers in Afghanistan. After several rounds of testing, four patterns with three variations for each, from companies in New York, Virginia and Alaska were submitted to the Army to choose a winner.
Critics say this has been a huge waste of money.
But hey, it was great in one particular urban setting