multicam for usaf

18 09 2010

…. well, for some of them anyway. The article below is reproduced courtesy of Strategy Page. All errors with reference to the ABU (Airman Battle Uniform) and UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) are theirs ;-)

September 17, 2010: U.S. Air force personnel in Afghanistan have been buying (or scrounging from kindly army supply sergeants) the new MultiCam pattern uniforms. That’s because the air force uses a different camouflage pattern for their field uniforms, and when air force air controllers (who call in air strikes) move through the hills with army troops, it’s obvious from a distance who the air force personnel are. Actually, it makes all the troops more visible, because the MultiCam is pretty good at hiding those wearing it, but the difference between the air force camo and the MultiCam is so striking that the entire group of troops becomes more visible. The air force brass eventually got the message, and have started buying MultiCam uniforms for air force troops operating in combat along with army troops.

This was not the first problem of this sort. While the MultiCam was a an improvement on the older ACU pattern uniforms, the troops did not get new packs (which also use camo pattern cloth) at the same time they received the MultiCam uniforms. Thus when troops went off into the hills, the combination of MultiCam uniforms and ACU pattern packs do a lot to ruin the camouflage effect.

The U.S. military has been having a tough decade when it comes to camouflage uniforms. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. Army has changed camouflage patterns for their combat uniforms twice. First it was the adoption of digital patterns, then the current move to MultiCam.

It was SOCOM (special operations command) troops who first had second thoughts about the older digital camo pattern. The digital camouflage pattern uses “pixels” (little square or round spots of color, like you will find on your computer monitor if you look very closely), instead of just splotches of different colors. Naturally, this was called “digital camouflage.” This pattern proved considerably more effective at hiding troops than older methods.

For example, in tests, it was found that soldiers wearing digital pattern uniforms were 50 percent more likely to escape detection by other troops, than if they were wearing standard green uniforms. What made the digital pattern work was the way the human brain processed information. The small “pixels” of color on the cloth makes the human brain see vegetation and terrain, not people. One could provide a more technical explanation, but the “brain processing” one pretty much says it all. Another advantage of the digital patterns is that they can also fool troops using night vision scopes. American troops are increasingly running up against opponents who have night optics, so wearing a camouflage pattern that looks like vegetation to someone with a night scope, is useful.

But digital doesn’t rule, at least not when price is no object. The runner-up in the competition was a non-digital pattern called MultiCam (cleverly designed to hide troops in many different environments). Many in the army preferred this one, but the difference, in tests, between it and the winner, digital ACU, was not that great. Moreover, MultiCam was about three times more expensive.

However, SOCOM operators have their own budget, and had many of their guys out in the field wearing MultiCam, rather than the digital ACU. Now SOCOM has always had a larger budget, per capita, than the rest of the army, and its operators had a lot of discretion to use whatever weapons or gear they thought best for the job. Apparently, on some jobs, MultiCam was considered more suitable than digital ACU. That said, there have been few complaints from soldiers about ACU, which measures up to MultiCam in most particulars, and it a lot cheaper.

Eventually, the services decided that if MultiCam provided even a small advantage over digital, than MultiCam was the way to go. The British Army thought the same thing, and are now sending new uniforms, using a version of MultiCam, to their troops. But for the new MultiCam to work, everything the troops wear has to be MultiCam. And everyone out with the troops, especially air force air controllers, need to be dressed in MultiCam as well.





image of the day

21 05 2010

Image of the Day: 21 May 2010

Army administrator Lance Corporal Jennifer Garraway (bottom right) and Army medic Lance Corporal Nicola Murray (front, centre), both serving with 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland in Helmand province, have become the first British soldiers to attend the American nine-day Female Engagement Team course which was held at the United States Marine Corps base, Camp Leatherneck, near Camp Bastion. The all-female course focuses on interaction with the local Afghan female population, fostering relationships and gaining the trust and support of Afghans whilst patrolling with infantry soldiers. [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]




image of the day

23 04 2010
"1 Mercians patrol in Helmand in their new MTP uniforms. Note PECOC 'Hybrid DPM' Osprey armour cover."

1 Mercians patrol in Helmand in their new MTP uniforms. Note PECOC 'Hybrid DPM' Osprey armour cover.

Here’s a close up of that armour carrier, clearly showing the Hybrid DPM in bottle green, caramel and earth brown over tan:

"Hybrid DPM Osprey"





brit mtp deployed to helmand

21 04 2010

The first pictures that I’m aware of of the British armed forces wearing their new camouflage design – the Multi-Terrain Pattern (MTP) – in Afghanistan.

Below is Lt Col Paul James, Commanding Officer of 40 Commando  Royal Marines taking over the  Sangin area of operations in Helmand province, from Lt Col Nick Kitson, CO, 3 Rifles.

"MTP at FOB Jackson, Afghanistan"

MTP at FOB Jackson, Afghanistan

In the photo below, we can see that although helmet covers in the new pattern have already been issued, load-bearing vests, webbing and gloves have not. The figure in desert DPMs, helping to load the Chinook HC2 does not appear to be a member of the  Royal Marines.

RM Commandos in MTP camo load a transport helicopter in Afghanistan

RM Commandos in new MTP uniforms load a transport helicopter at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan.

Read the story behind the pictures on the excellent Helmand Blog.





why afghanistan matters – photo competition

31 03 2010

I just discovered an online competition on the theme of Why Afghanistan Matters. The Allied Joint Forces Command HQ Brunssum (which provides oversight to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan) has been looking for original photos of the country, its people, and those who are fighting to free them from Taliban tyranny.

The competition has just closed, so too bad if you wanted to enter, but have a look at, and vote for, some of the stunning entries already uploaded in the four categories of People of Afghanistan, Beautiful Afghanistan, ANSF in Action (Afghan National Security Forces) and ISAF in Action.

Before this, between June and November last year, JFCB hosted a video contest on YouTube.  The assignment was to create a short video on the same theme of  “Why Afghanistan Matters.”  View the winners here.

Voting ends April 30.

(Image via Why Afghanistan Matters)





multi-tarn?

2 03 2010

It appears that German military clothing and equipment manufacturers Tacgear have a new flecktarn colourway up their sleeve. The company made a splash a couple of years ago with their snow camouflage, based on the the drawings or printing screens used for the Danish army 3 colour woodland camouflage (‘M84′).  Now they have quietly announced

a new “flecktarn” camouflage pattern which was developed for the today’s mission scenarios of the armed forces

"alphacam"

Only one picture on their site, and that’s a small one, but it looks like they’ve used a Multicam-like palette (a colour scheme that’s bound to increase in popularity now that both the US and British armies have adopted it for their Afghan adventures). Maybe there will be more evidence at this year’s IWA and outdoor classics show in 2 weeks time.





multicam makes the cut in the dirtbox

22 02 2010

Following a pre-emptive announcement on Soldier Systems on Feb 17th, the US Army confirmed that it will be fielding Crye’s Multicam pattern in Afghanistan, replacing the maligned Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) and effectively ending trials of a recoloured derivative, UCP-D, that attempted to resolve some of the concealment issues around UCP by adding a fourth, earth (‘Coyote’) brown colour.

The Army Times has this:

By Matthew Cox – Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Feb 21, 2010 9:07:31 EST

The Army will begin fielding MultiCam, a more effective camouflage pattern for Afghanistan, in August. Soldiers deploying in late summer will be the first to receive the new versions of the Army Combat Uniform; soldiers already in theater will begin getting them in the fall.

MultiCam, made by Crye Precision LLC, bested the existing digital pattern and others in multiple Army tests.

MultiCam was “21 percent less detectable than UCP,” the pattern used in ACUs, said Col. Bill Cole, project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment.

“MultiCam was the clear winner,” he said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey was convinced of MultiCam’s effectiveness based on that statistic, Cole said.

“He’s an infantryman … when he saw that, he said, ‘You mean I can get this much closer to the enemy before I’m seen?’” Cole said. “That’s what he wanted.”

Secretary of the Army John McHugh approved Casey’s recommendation Feb. 19.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Polk, La., and the Iowa National Guard’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, will be the first to receive MultiCam. The new uniforms will also feature other improvements slated to be incorporated in all future ACUs over time, including an improved collar and buttons to replace some Velcro.

Soldiers will receive four sets of MultiCam uniforms, four combat shirts and matching combat gear, Cole said.

“Anything they would wear on a dismounted combat patrol will be in MultiCam,” Cole said.

The Feb. 19 announcement came after a multiphase effort that culminated with soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Drum, N.Y., evaluating hundreds of calibrated photos of the Army’s Universal Camouflage Pattern and five alternative patterns taken in different settings in Afghanistan.

"021710at_multicam_2_800"

Soldiers wearing Multicam

So is MultiCam a step backward, returning camo design  to old-skool analogue patterns with swirly woodland shapes? Not at all! While it is not a pixellated pattern like UCP, the Marine’s MarPat, or Canada’s CadPat, it is still a digital designed pattern, and is far more advanced than any camo fielded in the 1980s and ’90s. Its design takes advantage of improvements in computer software that were unimaginable in the days of the Cold-war, allowing a complex pattern to be assembled from many different overlapping images, with colours tweaked to match environmental samples at the touch of a button. Before it was even printed, the concept was validated using sophisticated simulations of the pattern in different environments.





image of the day

10 02 2010
"LCpl Ross MacDougall, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, provides force protection during a CASAVAC Training Exercise during 4 Mechanized Brigade's Mission Specific Training (MST) on Salisbury Plain."

Picture: Sergeant Dan Harmer RLC, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010

Desert DPM: the British Army’s secret new-old multi-terrain camouflage!





current camo compendium

7 02 2010

In the spirit of the recent trend toward an increase in the thought and development of  uniforms for troops, including the design of features as well as camo patterns,  Strike-Hold! has posted loads of great pictures in an article about 21st Century camo uniforms.

"finnish-winter-camo"

"Call that a knife? THIS is a knife!"





photo’s of ucp-delta in action

23 12 2009
UCP-D-afghanistan

UCP-Delta pattern in Kandahar province, Afghanistan

Defense Tech has the first exclu­sive look at the Universal Camouflage Pattern — Delta being worn by US Army personnel in the field in Afghanistan.

Also check by at Soldier Systems for additional pictures, including the MultiCam competitor in the field trials.

MultiCam_Afghanistan

MultiCam in Kunar province, Afghanistan








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