|By C. Todd Lopez, Army News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Army is one step closer to selecting a new
set of camouflage patterns that could replace what Soldiers are wearing
now in most places.
As part of the “Phase IV” camouflage effort, the Army awarded contracts
to five vendors — selected from an initial 20 — to each provide enough
fabric in the new camouflage patterns they have developed to produce 150
uniforms for the Army to test.
A Solider wearing the Operation
Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern, or OCP, uses an M14
Enhanced Battle Rifle. The OCP pattern was developed to help
Soldiers blend in better in Afghanistan. Now, the Army is
developing a new set of uniform patterns for all Soldiers, as
part of the Phase IV camouflage effort.
(U.S. Army photo)
Each vendor had been asked to produce a “family of camouflage
patterns,” including one that would be suitable in a woodland
environment, one that would be suitable in a desert environment, and one
that would work in a “transitional” environment.
The Army will spend the next nine months testing the effectiveness of
“To really have confidence in being able to make a recommendation to
senior leaders, we need to do field trials,” said Col. William Cole, of
Program Executive Office Soldier. “We are looking forward to getting out
into the woods, into the deserts, into the transitional areas and having
real Soldiers wear these uniforms and have real Soldiers observe them.”
Cole said the Army will use both real-world testing in varying terrains
and conditions, as well as more advanced computer testing to evaluate
“We’re going to put them through the ringer,” he said.
Due to the varying types of terrain Soldiers operate in, Cole said the
Army had found that “we can’t really have one pattern that is as
effective as we’d like in every single terrain type.”
Today, most Soldiers wear the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). The ACU bears
the Universal Camouflage Pattern, the familiar grey/blue “digital”
pattern. In Afghanistan, Soldiers also have the Operation Enduring
Freedom Camouflage Pattern, or OCP, available for wear.
The vendors each developed three patterns with the same geometry — the
shapes on the fabric — but with different color palettes. Additionally,
the vendors were to develop a fourth “coordinated” pattern, or name one
of the three already in their family of patterns, that would work well
with all three patterns. That fourth pattern is for use on
organizational clothing and individual equipment (OCIE).
Cole said that OCIE, things like belts, protective vests, ruck sacks and
plate carriers, are more expensive than a Soldier’s regular uniform. The
Army doesn’t want to maintain OCIE in each of the three patterns, so
instead the Army will have it in one pattern that looks good with all
three of the uniform pattern variants.
Cole said other organizations have OCIE that is a solid color, but he
said “we were hoping we could do better than that,” and the Army asked
industry to come up with an OCIE pattern to break up solid color “and
still look good on all three uniform patterns.”
“We had seen some examples of grossly mismatched OCIE in uniforms in the
early part of Iraqi Freedom — we didn’t want to have any telltale signs
of where the OCIE, the vest and armor stopped and where the rest of the
body began,” Cole said.
Many vendors have chosen their “transitional” pattern for use on the
OCIE, Cole said.
Each of the five vendors will now produce enough fabric to build 50
uniforms out of each of their three submitted patterns — for a total of
150 uniforms from each company. In all, the Army will have 750 uniforms
for use in its testing.
Cole said by October, PEO Soldier will have completed testing of the
patterns and will be able to make recommendations to Army senior
leadership about the way ahead.
“There’s a lot to do between now and October, but that’s our plan,” Cole
said. “Complete the field trials and complete the more sensitive
computer simulations and come back to senior leaders in October and lay
out the results of what we found and have a recommendation.”
The five vendors awarded contracts include:
— Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc., Virginia Beach, Va.
— Brookwood Companies Inc., New York, N.Y.
— Crye Precision, LLC, Brooklyn, N.Y.
— Kryptek Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska
— U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center,