As most soldiers and veterans are probably aware, on August 6, 2014, Army officials announced that the year 2018 was the official year of retirement for the US Army’s embattled UCP.
The U.S. Army’s pixelated camo, which was introduced in 2004, has been labeled as a monumental $5 billion blunder. The mixture of the Army’s gray-green colors with the pixel pattern turned out to be quite eye-catching (which certainly is not a good thing especially when it comes to camouflage in the field and the vulnerability of our troops that are stationed in desert terrain).
At one point NATICK, a group which oversees the credibility and durability of military uniforms, vehicles, food, etc., went on record as saying that UCP was unacceptable to use in various terrains, particularly a desert terrain. They conducted two separate sets of research regarding the UCP pattern, both of which showed that UCP came up short in meeting the needs of our soldiers. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army never performed any research to verify that UCP was an acceptable and safe option for our soldiers in the field.
It took until 2009 for Congress to respond to soldiers’ concerns about the then current camo uniforms. The soldiers felt that UCP provided less than adequate camouflage while serving in Afghanistan. The Department of Defense took immediate action to provide combat uniforms with a camouflage pattern more suited to the Afghanistan terrain. The end result was MultiCam from Crye. MultiCam greatly resembles the Marine Corps style of camouflage, and it works well in all terrains, whether it be woodland or desert setting. Of course, the cost of licensing MultiCam is out of our budget, hence the new OCP.
The new uniforms are also expected have several design changes, depending on their battlefield performance. Possible changes include:
- a change from the current mandarin collar to a fold-down design
- replacing the hook on the side leg pocket with a button
- removal of elbow and knee pad insert pockets
- removal of pen pocket on sleeve
- the elimination of trouser drawstrings
It’s about time that the Army and the U.S. Congress listen and respond to the concerns of our military personnel. I believe the only downside to these changes is the fact that many of them will not become effective until 2018 (not to mention having to replace all of your apparel and gear). It also seems fairly ridiculous that OCP will not be available for another year. Our fighting men and women need these uniforms now! After all, they are fighting to protect us and it is our obligation to also protect them.