As if the hype, hyperbole, misinformation, misquotes, facts-taken-out-of-context flying all around the internet media this week – even as far away as the UK, Australia and Hungary – wasn’t enough, FOX Business decided to get in on the act too.

When FOX contacted me, I outlined exactly what the real story behind the “$5 Billion” issue – in other words, its not what the Army spent to develop the pattern (even though that’s what’s being frequently reported).  I also reiterated that point to them what the Army’s doing now to find a better solution now – but also how there is still no clearly stated plan of when, how or IF all the UCP kit and clothing will be replaced, and that there’s no identified budget for it yet either.  That’s what they should be poking there noses into, if anything.

I also pointed out to them that we already have an interim replacement for UCP in Afghanistan – but as yet no publicly stated position on what happens when that mission ends and we have all of that kit left in the supply chain.

And I was also ready to point out and discuss how the Air Force and Navy have compounded the matter even further by creating their we-wanna-look-cool-too digital-camo rebranding of their branches with new clothing, equipment and matching accessories too.

She could have had all of that – she could have scooped everybody else out there with a deeper, richer, much better story than what’s been put out so far – but, no, she had to ignore all that and go for the inaccurate and inflammatory opening statement….

To watch the video, click on the screen-grab above.

So, let’s blow away the journalistic smoke-and-mirrors and confirm some real facts:

  • Is UCP a “fiasco”? As a camouflage pattern YES, as an organizational branding exercise, NO.  As an exercise in logistics, NO.
  • Is Natick responsible for making this crappy pattern universally issued? Only in so far as they were forced to follow order from PEO Soldier apparently (one source has attributed the decision about UCP, and the subsequent orders to issue it to every soldier everywhere on everything, to Brig. Gen. James Moran – retired).
  • Did it cost $5 Billion to develop UCP? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
  • How much does it cost to fully equip a combat soldier head-to-toe with UCP-printed clothing and equipment, and color-matched accessories? Approximately $12,000 – $15,000.
  • So where does this $5 Billion figure come from? It was reported around the time that the US Army was asked by Congress to find a better camouflage of use in Afghanistan (2009), and apparently it was how much had been spent to-date in fielding new UCP-printed uniforms and clothing items, web gear, pouches, rucksacks, etc.
  • How much did it cost to re-equip the troops in Afghanistan with MultiCam? I don’t think we have an official figure, but a story on calculated an amount of $34.5 Million for the uniforms alone.  All of the web gear, pouches, rucksacks and body armor would added significantly to that amount.
  • So, how much will it cost to switch over from UCP to something new? Hard to say, becuase it depends first on whether the General (or Generals) who review the cost-benefit-analysis study based on the findings of the Camouflage Improvement Initiative decide that it makes sense.  It will also depend on how extensively they plan to replace uniforms and equipment, over what time frame, and also how many troops would get a full replacement of all personal and organizational clothing and combat equipment vs. just personal clothing.  It won’t be cheap though – an ACU uniform costs $88, so to just issue a single uniform to all 1 Million + personnel in the Army would cost $88 Million +.  But no one gets just one uniform issued to them, so you can see that it will be EXPENSIVE.  And this is the real “waste” of the UCP pattern…

The $15,000 wardrobe.

  • But on the other hand, that will be good for the economy becuase it will keep the American textile industry, textile-based manufacturing, and tactical clothing and gear businesses running – and that will in turn keep a lot of Americans employed and able to keep a roof over their heads, food on their plates, money in the bank, and health insurance to cover illness.  And that’s a good thing.  maybe the President should put that in his jobs and economic recovery plans…

Background reading:


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One Response to The so-called $5 Billion camouflage debacle rises again

  1. Bob says:

    I watched the interview, and I must say, she had no interest in the facts. I am certainly no fan of UCP, but I do not believe any of the cost was wasted, per say. The total kit was fielded together, vastly improving the suite of individual equipment each soldier is issued. The tempo of the wars has meant that the more permanent items are used up and requiring replacement soon, providing an excellent opportunity to recapitalize with a new camo pattern. Also, while UCP is not a very effective pattern, it was not entirely necessary for every soldier to be camouflaged in the Iraq war, the enemy tended to know we were there when we drove up in big trucks, brads and tanks, and house to house stuff did not always require stealth. This last bit is personal opinion: The appearance of the individual soldier is the “brand” of the service. In every major conflict for the past hundred years, the uniform worn at the time is directly tied to the results in the American psyche. I feel that UCP was selected because the geometry was considered high tech, the colorway because they believed the majority of fighting would occur in built-up areas, and that regardless of it’s effectiveness, a new pattern would be selected after the war to reflect the “new” Army of the post war period. I will take my tin foil hat off now.

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