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.





mtp in action

22 07 2010

Operation Omid do, Afghanistan. ANA Brigade Commander Col Sheren Shan Koradi and his staff planned and led the operation . 500 ANA troops moved into the area of Yakchal Southeast of Gereshk . An area of insurgent activity the aim was to show the ANA , with ISAF support , can bring security to the area . The ANA have been trained and mentoured by the 1 st Bn ( Royal Scottish Borderers ) (The Royal Regiment of Scotland ) . The Commanding officer of the Bn is Lt Col Charlie Herbert OBE

ANA Brigade Commander Col Sheren Shan Koradi and his staff planned and led the operation . 500 ANA troops moved into the area of Yakchal Southeast of Gereshk .   An area of insurgent activity the aim was to show the ANA , with ISAF support , can bring security to the area .   The ANA have been trained and mentoured by the 1 st Bn ( Royal Scottish Borderers ) , (The Royal Regiment of Scotland ) . The Commanding officer of the Bn is Lt Col Charlie Herbert OBE , Picture shows members of the 1st Battlion of the Royal Scottish Borderers ( The Royal Regiment of Scotland ) and members of the Afghan National Army patrolling into Yakchal Southeast of Gereshk .

Image shows: Lance Corporal Michael McLoughlin cleaning a cut on a local boy's hand with the water from his camelbak drinking system.  Lance Corporal (LCpl) Michael "Doc" McLoughlin is a medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to The Royal Dragoon Guards. He is currently serving with a ground holding unit on the frontline against the Taliban in the southern district of Nad-e-Ali. The patrol base was seized as part of operation Moshtarak early in the year.    LCpl McLoughlin (22) from Manchester is the first line of medical support for the soldiers of C Squadron Royal Dragoon Guards who are currently operating as an infantry unit for their six-month tour of Afghanistan. The patrol base is some two kilometres from other ISAF locations. It regularly comes under fire from insurgents, as do the soldiers who patrol the surrounding area to provide protection and security for the local villagers.

Gurkhas from B Company The 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles provide security for Royal Engineers who are constructing a new road called Route Trident. The new road will allow greater movement for the local Afghans population and help to improve security in the area of Walizi, Helmand Province.    NOTE TO DESKS:   MoD release authorised handout images.   All images remain crown copyright.   Photo credit to read - Sergeant Ian Forsyth RLC

British troops on patrol

Gurkhas from B Company The 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles provide security for Royal Engineers who are constructing a new road called Route Trident. The new road will allow greater movement for the local Afghans population and help to improve security in the area of Walizi, Helmand Province.    NOTE TO DESKS:   MoD release authorised handout images.   All images remain crown copyright.   Photo credit to read - Sergeant Ian Forsyth RLC

Gurkhas from B Company The 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles provide security for Royal Engineers who are constructing a new road called Route Trident. The new road will allow greater movement for the local Afghan population and help to improve security in the area of Walizi, Helmand Province.     NOTE TO DESKS:   MoD release authorised handout images.   All images remain crown copyright.   Photo credit to read - Sergeant Ian Forsyth RLC

The Improvised Explosive Device is the biggest threat to life for troops on the ground in Afghanistan.  Scattered throughout Helmand Province, these indiscriminate weapons kill and maim both ISAF and Afghan soldiers as well as innocent Afghan civilians.    But the tide is turning in the fight against IEDs and the British Armed Forces now have a revolutionary new capability called Talisman which is being used to counter the threat.    15 Field Support Squadron, 21 Engineer Regiment who are based in Ripon, North Yorkshire, are the first troops to use the new system on the ground in Afghanistan.    Talisman is comprised of armoured vehicles, optical cameras and remote controlled vehicles.  This life saving equipment is being used to support Combat Logistics Patrols which can be up to several hundred vehicles in total which trek through the country, delivering vital supplies to bases for the troops on the front line.  Talisman is also starting to be used in combat infantry roles, such as for deliberate route clearances.





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.





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!





testing the new multi-terrain camouflage

21 12 2009

This article from a government website explains the rationale behind the choice of new camouflage for the Ministry of Defence:

** EDIT ** Updated December 22nd with new images from the final DSTL press release

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory – 21 Dec 2009 12:10
in Government News Network newsTESTING THE NEW MULTI-TERRAIN CAMOUFLAGE

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Ministry of Defence civilian scientists, working with the MOD Defence Clothing Project Team, has tested and trialled new multi-terrain camouflage clothing that has been proven to improve mission effectiveness across a range of different backgrounds.It is the first time in 40 years the Armed Forces have changed the camouflage pattern. George Philpott, Land Battlespace Systems, Dstl, says: “Dstl scientists researched and tested whether a mixed multi-terrain camouflage pattern would improve mission success and basically keep soldiers hidden for longer during ambush operations or when on patrol. It is not just a question of colours; we looked at texture and tone of patterns, how the light reflects and how well it disguises the wearer when observed both close up and at a distance.

“Dstl‟s work is all about creating battle-winning technology for UK armed forces on current operations, and we‟re proud we were able to cram all the work in to just six months, with extra people working a lot of extra hours to get this research and testing complete.”

Troops in Helmand, Afghanistan, operate in a mixed landscape: desert, woodland, mountainous, urban etc. Dstl assessed whether a multi-terrain camouflage was better than the standard army woodland camouflage disruptive pattern material (DPM) or the desert DPM and if so what is the best pattern, or balance of colours. The two current camouflage schemes were tested alongside an existing off-the-shelf multi-terrain camouflage to see which performed best across various backgrounds that soldiers are likely to encounter across the landscape in Afghanistan.

Computer modelling was carried out across representations of the green zone, desert and transition backgrounds. Soldiers operated in various scenarios in a simulated set of environments to test how the different camouflages performed in situations where staying undetected was important.

Overall the multi-terrain performed best, supporting the theory that a multi-terrain camouflage offers improvements when soldiers move between different places and backgrounds. Dstl also conducted interviews and subjective testing with service men and women to understand and evaluate whether they would actually be happy to wear the new camouflage and whether the concept of a multi-terrain camouflage was desirable and effective.

As a result of this work, it was determined that a multi-terrain camouflage could improve mission success so Dstl set about testing available multi-terrain patterns and creating new ones for testing.

Christopher Jones, Air & Weapons Systems, Dstl, adds: “In addition to existing aerial photography, Dstl sent cameras to Helmand for soldiers to take specific scientific photographs of the various backgrounds and landscapes they operate in.”

Dstl teams in the UK, at Fort Halstead, near Sevenoaks in Kent and at Portsdown West, near Portsmouth in Hampshire, measured the colour properties for each image and identified seven major background types. These colours were then used for Dstl‟s camouflage optimisation and testing programme.

Photo-montage colour test

Photo-montage colour test

Christopher Jones continues: “The colours and backgrounds in Helmand are similar to those found in parts of the UK, so we used the colour data from Afghanistan and used it to identify places where there was a good colour match, to allow us to run large scientific trials.”

The Afghanistan background colours were used to generate new multi-terrain type camouflage based partly on the shapes and patterns of the existing UK woodland DPM. These were tested against the current army woodland and desert uniforms, to act as a baseline, and a commercially available pattern from Crye Precision.

The ten different camouflage patterns tested by DSTL

Ten camouflage suits were trialled in five tests to assess overall performance with pilot trials held before the final main testing. The trial team developed experimental techniques, which were initially established through collaborative research with other NATO countries.

Lt Col Toby Evans, military advisor, Dstl, adds: “The detailed tests and trials looked at everything from how easy is it to spot these camouflages in different terrains and backgrounds to simply asking the soldiers who helped on the trial, which one do you like best and would feel happy wearing?

The tests

Observer assessment – a live trial with military personnel asked to judge the performance of each suit at 50m, 100m and 150m. The trial was carried out at Stanford Training Area, Norfolk and at RAF Donna Nook, Lincolnshire as they contained areas with similar colours and backgrounds to Helmand. Additional testing was also carried out at night to test low light performance.

Statistical assessment – using a computer model of how camouflaged objects are detected, each suit was tested for its match to the seven identified different backgrounds.

The following three trials took place at Catterick Garrison and included a large number of army personnel:

Order rank – soldiers ranked how well close-up images of the suits performed against the seven backgrounds.

Time to detect – Dstl measured the time it took soldiers to detect the 10 different camouflage patterns in the seven backgrounds using a computer-based assessment.

Personal preference – soldiers were asked which their favourite three patterns were based purely on appearance and any patterns they wouldn‟t like to wear.

DSTL test of desert DPM

The results

The results showed the Crye Precision Multicam performed the best, on average, across all the trials. The final camouflage has a pattern that is similar to the current woodland DPM as it allows for easy identification between soldiers and this type of pattern consistency proved popular during the research.

Dstl is currently looking at future research into army camouflage clothing, optimising the camouflage to perform well in a variety of landscapes and backgrounds around the world to support wider operations. If this is successful the outcome could become the standard camouflage for all UK armed forces.





more on brit army’s new mtp…

21 12 2009

http://strikehold.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/more-about-the-uks-new-mtp-camo-uniforms/

http://soldiersystems.net/2009/12/20/more-on-new-brit-camo/

MTP close up

MTP close up





a new significance

11 11 2009

88 years after its first use as a symbol of remembrance for the fallen, the poppy is again being associated with the  sacrifice and valour of the fighting man, amidst questions about our strategy and commitment in another conflict that has lasted far longer and achieved far less than most expected at its inception.

British soldier passes opium poppy, Musa Qaleh, Afghanistan 2009

British soldier and Afghan poppy, Musa Qaleh (Getty Images)

The recent, inevitable, announcement of yet another tragic death in South East Asia and the debacle surrounding Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s communication with Jacqui “J’accuse” Janes, the mother of late Guardsman Jamie Janes,  draws further attention to the United Kingdom’s (and NATO’s) strategy in the region.

I believe we must render Afghanistan and Pakistan impotent as launch pads for another 9/11. We must make it too uncomfortable for extremists to exist amongst the population and influence them, let alone train and re-equip themselves. I don’t buy into the myth that Afghanistan has never been subdued and thus a war there is unwinnable. Nor do I believe that the military have all the answers, or that we should seek to remodel a medieval culture after a western, democratic ideal. The result is bound to be an unconvincing, pale  imitation that will tear itself asunder immediately.

In the short term, force and favour are what is needed. Carrot and stick. As Macchiavelli  famously wrote, when speaking of  rulers in war: Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. It’s not very PC, but neither is war, and neither are the Pashtun, who we have to admit are the ‘enemy of enemies’ in Afghanistan.

In the past, force and favour brought a kind of stability to pre-industrial kingdoms and empires, including the region now known as Afghanistan. It was once itself even the centre of  the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, an empire that stretched – in the wake of Alexander the Great’s conquests – from the Indus River to the Caspian Sea, and whose legacy remains in the art and sculpture of the northern Indian sub-continent.

Force, through a military presence, with some demonstration of willingness to use overwhelming firepower, was coupled with favour: the giving of gifts to local grandees and the granting of concessions and power. Today we would call this bribery with menaces, and frown on it. In our democratic, industrialised modern world, this moral standpoint is all well and good, even necessary for the smooth functioning of society. But in Afghanistan political correctness earns no respect, whereas warlordism demands respect. So when in Rome (or Kabul) do as the Romans do: employ realpolitik.

In fact the Romans (or more accurately, Italians) did just this in Afghanistan recently, but neglected to mention their arrangement to the French who replaced them before they departed for home, with disastrous consequences, as the Times reports.

Money is being wasted at home on dead-end procurement projects, and troops and equipment are being committed to Afghanistan in half-measures. If the nettle were to be grasped, and local stability bought with Treasury gold, enforced with many more boots on the ground, tanks, MRAPs,  transport and attack helicopters and intel assets, the civil construction projects might have a chance to raise the local standards of living and bring some of the population to the kerb at the edge of  the long road to modernity.  Rather like an extortionate loan, our current strategy of more or less minimal commitment sees us paying a lot more, over a longer period, than if we acceptthat we are at war and modify our economy to reflect and support the paradigm.

No one can fault the leadership of the troops in theatre, but on the home front, are our lions being led by donkeys once again?





PECOC’s colours displayed

14 01 2009

Our colleagues at Soldiers Systems continue to scour teh interwebs to bring you tantalising glimpses of the British Ministry of Defence project PECOC, which aims to enhance soldier efficiency and effectiveness throughout all infantry-based equipment. They’ve found fresh pictures of the temperate and arid regions kit being trialled, including the new ‘multi-environment’ colourway that is to be used on webbing, load bearing vests, pouches and body armour covers.

See the pictures here

*edit: more pictures of the pattern via this link and this link.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.