25 June 2012

Army Ditching ACU in Admission it was a Failure

It's not just that it was a failure, it was how it was a failure.

The Army is changing clothes.

Over the next year, America’s largest fighting force is swapping its camouflage pattern. The move is a quiet admission that the last uniform — a pixelated design that debuted in 2004 at a cost of $5 billion — was a colossal mistake.

Soldiers have roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it’s been worn. Industry insiders have called the financial mess surrounding the pattern a “fiasco.”

As Army researchers work furiously on a newer, better camouflage, it’s natural to ask what went wrong and how they’ll avoid the same missteps this time around. In a candid interview with The Daily, several of those researchers said Army brass interfered in the selection process during the last round, letting looks and politics get in the way of science.

“It got into political hands before the soldiers ever got the uniforms,” said Cheryl Stewardson, a textile technologist at the Army research center in Natick, Mass., where most of the armed forces camouflage patterns are made.

The researchers say that science is carrying the day this time, as they run four patterns through a rigorous battery of tests. The goal is to give soldiers different patterns suitable for different environments, plus a single neutral pattern — matching the whole family — to be used on more expensive body armor and other gear. The selection will involve hundreds of computer trials as well on-the-ground testing at half a dozen locations around the world.

By: Brant


Guardian said...

$5B and seven years later, the Army figures out what my buddies and I realized the moment we laid eyes on the awful ACU pattern.

Here's a quick and easy solution: Multicam uniforms, plate carriers, and headgear for ALL of the services. If it's good enough for the varied terrain of Afghanistan (as the so-called OEF Camouflage Pattern), it's good enough for anywhere except polar regions.

Coyote brown for everything else (pouches and the like). It's good enough for the Marine Corps, it should be good enough for the other services. I would say just adopt MARPAT, but it comes in two different versions and that's too expensive.

-- Guardian

Brian said...

Ha ha, you caught the Pixilation Disease from Canada!

Work on the Canadian Forces CADPAT digital camouflage uniform started in the 80s/90s, was first tried on helmet covers (when we ditched the old steel helmet in the 90s) but was issued to the Army as a complete uniform in 2002.

Even so, there are three flavours: temperate, arid and arctic.

They are supposed to be working on a gray urban uniform, don't know if that will come out well and perhasp they might ditch it due to the failure of the ACU (but probably not).

Nobody seems to be able to get urban camouflage right except David Byrne:


Now, Canada used the same plain olive drab for over 30 years, in all kinds of environments and it worked quite well - a plain colour is not as obtrusive as a disruptive patter might be and the fabric tended to pick up dust, so after rolling around on the ground for a while we blended in fine....

One justification I heard for the "pixilated" pattern instead of the paintbrushy swirls and patches is that it helps to obscure your image when someone is looking at you through a night-vision device.