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.
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.