It is official. After months of speculation and rumors concerning the fate of the current Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), the U. S. Army officially announced its pending replacement in an August 6th press release. The official announcement came less than a week after Army officials released images of the new Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP).
Roll out of ACUs in the new pattern are expected to be available by summer of 2015, and plans are to phase in the new uniforms as current-issue items need replacing. Official retirement of UCP is slated for 2018.
Why Replace UCP?
When UCP was introduced, it was heralded as the next generation of not only camouflage but also all around combat uniform design. The green-grey pattern was considered more universal, able to be utilized in a variety of environments. The overall design included a mandarin style collar; there were pen pockets on the sleeves and hook-and-loop closure on pockets – a futuristic look for today’s soldier. Almost immediately, users complained that the “universal camo” was anything but, claiming that the pattern did not match any specific environment and blended poorly with most backgrounds. Troops recently deployed to Afghanistan were even supplied with a temporary supply of gear produced in MultiCam by Crye Precision.
What is OCP?
Operational Camouflage Pattern is, according to the Army press release, a “color palette of muted greens, light beige and dark brown resembling MultiCam, the pattern used by soldiers deploying to Afghanistan.” Reviews of side by side pictures of MultiCam and OCP reveal that the patterns are more than similar, they are nearly identical. The major differences between the two patterns are that OCP includes a reduction in the amount of beige and brown patches, and it does not include the vertical branch design present in the MultiCam version.
While OCP is being developed as a base pattern for use in all combatant commands, as well as in garrison, the Army has also stated it will be part of a “family” of patterns. Plans include providing darker jungle-woodland and lighter desert variants. This move will be a familiar return to past practice of having a basic woodland pattern for everyday use and a desert pattern authorized when mission necessary.
It is no coincidence that OCP, referred to as Scorpion W2 during previous testing, closely resembles MultiCam. MultiCam was reportedly a first choice with Army leadership, however, negotiations with Crye Precision failed to reach a cost acceptable to both parties. Instead, the Army decided to select Scorpion W2, also developed by Crye Precision but the rights to which were already owned by the Army, a move which will save the Army considerable licensing costs.
Additional cost savings may be achieved through the continued use of wearable items, such as Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment and Outer Tactical Vests, which would be dyed coyote brown. This would allow large inventories of UCP gear to remain in service rather than surplus as has happened during previous changes. Furthermore, it has been reported that officials are investigating the possibility of carrying out the dying process utilizing portable technology most likely at larger supply depots rather than the more costly process of sending equipment back to manufacturers for modification.
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