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.





camo comparison two

6 08 2010

ITS Tactical, who did a terrific job photographing several different camouflage patterns in Oklahoma last year, have hit gold again with a repeat of the test, this time in Texas, and featuring a few more camouflage patterns (and a few less duds).

With half an eye on the current conflict in Afghanistan the team at ITS chose a mixture of terrain that included sand and rocks and some scrubby growth. Although the landscape favoured desert and semi-arid camo patterns, four woodland/temperate designs were featured in the tests too – MARPAT Woodland, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Digital, Jieitai (Japanese flecktarn) and PenCott. Judge for yourself, but of the four,  I know which one I’d choose to wear in that sort of environment, if arid camo was not available ;-) Well, you would  expect me to say that, wouldn’t you?

"ITS Camo Comparison 2"

The test is very comprehensive, with consistent photos of all the camouflage patterns mounted on a dummy at set ranges in four different locales. You get a chance to pick up to four best performing patterns in each photo set. A tip regarding voting though – to be sure you are voting for the patterns you think are best, familiarise yourself with the designs – and the order they appear in – with one of the close range photo sets, because at long range it gets pretty hard to tell some of them apart, and the picture captions don’t give anything away!

Anyhow, you can check it all out on ITS Tactical’s blog





acu is great

22 02 2010

I couldn’t let this amusing picture from a few years back pass without comment. So, for those who didn’t already see it on Soldier Systems:

"acuisgreat"





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.





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





camo test: afghanistan

13 12 2009

Some details have emerged via Army Times of the environmental trials to find the US Army’s new camouflage pattern, including a group photo of the contenders. As you can see below, the patterns being tested are (from left): AOR II, UCP, Multicam, Desert Brush, UCP-Delta and Mirage. Confusingly, two trials are ongoing  – one is a battalion level camo face-off between Multicam and UCP-Delta, with the winner supposedly then immediately becoming the in-theatre camouflage for US Army soldiers deployed to Afghanistan. The other trial (shown here) is much more like the traditional army camouflage evaluations carried out by the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, where a few soldiers, or even mannequins, are dressed in the patterns being tested and photographed against various backgrounds, real and artificial. This evaluation is purportedly intended to select a new ‘universal’ camouflage that in the near future will be worn at all times in all operational areas.

At the moment, with only this shot to go on, it is difficult to call any of them, but I’d say that UCP is obviously by far the worst, and the Delta version doesn’t seem to have improved it much – the coyote and grey blend together, and too little of the tan element remains to create the contrast necessary for texture and pattern.

AOR2 is seen to be a vertically oriented pattern after all, which ought to work well when troops are prone, but is a mockery of the science that went into its creation when worn upright like this: Landscapes – especially arid landscapes – break down into bands of horizontal elements, which is why many digital camouflage patterns have a somewhat stripy appearance. The colours look as though they could work well though (it is noticeably greener than Multicam, despite using a similar colour palette).

AORII, ACU, Multicam, Desert Brush, ACU-D, Mirage

Multicam, Mirage and Desert Brush all blend better than the rest in this photo, but Desert Brush is the only one in which I can detect a useful macro-pattern. This feature is important for reducing long-range identification of the wearer, and was a key aspect of  the design of the superlative Canadian Cadpat ‘temperate’ and ‘arid’ digital patterns. Further photo’s may reveal macro-patterns in some of the other designs, so we ought to reserve judgement until we have more information.








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