“’Curiouser and curiouser!’ Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”  – ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Lewis Caroll.

Trying to follow the twists and turns of the US Army Camouflage Improvement Initiative, and sometimes sporadic information published about it, does make one feel a bit like Alice going down the rabbit hole sometimes….

As if the reasons for the disqualification of the patterns submitted by Hyde Definition, Orion Design Group and Digital Concealment Systems weren’t spurious enough, news broke earlier today on Soldier Systems Daily that the Army had mysteriously decided to withdraw its own “in-house” pattern.

Many people had assumed that the Natick pattern would be a digital, pixellated pattern becuase this is the type of pattern most widely used currently by the US military – and would thus provide good “brand consistency”.  On this basis, it was assumed that the Natick pattern was too similar to the submissions from Guy Cramer and ADS.

But according to the follow-up story posted on SSD this afternoon (EST), it turned out that Natick had simply dusted off the more-than-a-decade-old “Scorpion” pattern!  Allegedly, Natick have tweaked the Scorpion pattern since it first appeared, but we still only have photos of the original pattern – such as this one published by Soldier Systems Daily today.

From a design perspective, it was definitely a big surprise to me that Natick chose to go down this route.  After all, why submit a pattern that has been around for more than a decade, and that has been eclipsed by many patterns in the years since?  Most notably by a spin-off pattern that has become one of the most commercially successful and wide-spread camouflage patterns in history – Crye Precision’s MultiCam.  It was also such a surprise becuase surely the Natick team would have realised that Scorpion is quite (too?) similar to MultiCam before now?  Curious.

We haven’t seen any photographs (yet) of what the “woodland” and “desert” patterns from Crye look like – but I have heard from a camouflage industry insider who has seen them that they are simply recolorations of standard MultiCam.

In the meantime however, we do have a photograph of a trial Close Combat Uniform (predecessor of the ACU) that appears to be the “woodland” Scorpion pattern evaluated by Natick back around the turn of the century, and we also have a photograph of a pattern that would appear to be the “desert” version.

"Woodland" Scorpion?

"Desert" Scorpion(?) top vs. standard Multicam

Crye Precision’s “woodland” and “desert” versions of MultiCam must look very close to these…


Lawrence – Strike-Hold!


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12 Responses to The US Army Camouflage Improvement Initiative – curiouser and curiouser…

  1. Currahee says:

    Sorry if I rambled a bit too much :) I just hope they get it right this time for a change.

    • Greg says:

      Don’t worry it’s not rambling or anything like that, you just speak the truth as i do its just on some sites you are only allowed a few characters at a time. Now back to the issue, the big A had spent millions if not billions of dollars on a camo that probably cost more lives than save. All on a ridiculous notion that all wars would be fought inside cinder block cities/rooms was a stupid move on the pentagons part. Then up until 3 years ago when they fielded MultiCam or now called “OCP” spending millions more on that to outfit everyone into it while still having vast amount of that god awful UCP hanging around in inventory. The hard to swallow but understanbable truth of it is that last year the army said they knew budget cuts where going to come heavy but they also said clearly that they learned their lessons from grey blocks and do not want to make the same mistake twice by outfitting every last soldier in the same thing with OCP; witch was intended for use in afghanistan only and not stateside or on any other battlefield or base. And stated they are “fully”commited to the FOP project witch probably means (Come hell or high water/budget or no budget) they will have to choose something new and functionally appropriate for wear and in battle here or around the world like before UCP came around. Now to the cost part. You are right just as i was about brookwood it plain out sucks and look as if a five year old made it, and that the issue of supply and logistic problems aswell as personal feelings of running around looking like lizzards with L.E.A.F. camo my personal theory is that it works too well, looks too novel, and way over the price range for the army to buy (just by looking at it) And that takes us down to the final two Multicam and ADS with US4CES being the more cheaper alternative to the others by good margin; while i myself aint much for MC either it’s just as you said “why reinvent the wheel” by degrading multicams rep with a woodland and desert variations when they said it themselves that the one pattern would work perfect anywhere (when in reality no one design will fit in all places) Lets not forget Guy Cramers connections with CADPAT and MARPAT, my guess is that he already knew our number and he had a feeling his pixel design after joint development with the corps that the army would also eventualy replace the BDU with something new, but that something wasn’t what we wanted, and he knew he wold have to come to the rescue with some new camo ideas to help bail out the army so it all makes sense, His connection with the Marine Corps camo and CADPAT wasn’t a fluke it was a safety net to catch the falling damsel in distress. Not to mention the army’s constant hounding of the corps since 04 to borrow (in other words use) MARPAT by taking off the EGA on it then the corp got upset at that and denied it, and other theories as well

      (1) The corps was waiting on the army to make a decision to join them on the camo quest but got tired and moved foward.

      (2) The corps was willing to share it but did not want the EGA removed, army wanted it gone that pissed off the dogs and they said NO WAY!

      (3) The corps purposely wanted to piss of the army and make them jealous of their new stuff and it was part of their cold hearted plan all along years in the making to do so by wanting to look “different”

      As Dan Rather once said, “Alot ot questions. Very few answers.”

  2. Currahee says:

    Many of my fellow Soldiers and I have used MultiCam in real world situations and know it does work pretty darned well. And we have had many lengthy discussions over the past few weeks, since the Army times released photos on the final four. This is what the general consensus is in my unit about this whole camo thing:

    1. Many Soldiers whom have deployed already have MultiCam gear issued or that they personally bought in their possession. Soldiers really don’t want to buy more gear in yet another camo pattern if its really necessary.
    2. MultiCam is already in Army inventory, it is ready to be issued. This saves time and money.
    3. Most soldiers I have talked to, agree they like MultiCam and feel it is as effective here as it is in theater and feel that it should just be adopted, since it has already been tested well enough. I, myself have tripped over Soldiers laying in the prone wearing MultiCam, because I did not see them. Proof enough for me that it is effective. Even here in the states on base, the stuff blends well enough.
    4. You can develop off the basic MultiCam pattern and colors to create woodland and desert versions easily enough, using the base MultiCam for OCIE and as the transitional, as it should blend well enough with the other colors if done correctly. This is for environments that the base MultiCam will not blend well in, which is on the far ends of the camo spectrum (i.e. woodland/jungle and arid/desert).
    5. Most of us agree we may not see a new camo for some time to come due to our ever shrinking budget now. So we are not holding our breath for a change and will probably be wearing UCP for years to come unless something changes.

    Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but Crye Precision did not, that I am aware of, make a substantial claim that it was the end all universal camo that blends with everything. They did try to show that it is effective in multiple environments, that the camo pattern itself plays an eye trick to blend with environments.

    In response to Greg, It is to my understanding that Crye Precision has not, and will not (according to PEO) release their submissions they gave the Army to the public yet. So it is only speculation as to what the Crye stuff will look like right now. The gear is already manufactured for MultiCam. No need to reinvent the wheel there. What we have now works.
    I have looked at the ADS camo and it looks promising, but again, cost effectiveness will play a huge part in the award of the contract. I personally hope that if Crye doesn’t win, that ADS does.
    The Brookwood stuff… The camo looks like they took old chocolate chip uniforms and recolored and smeared the camo. Looking closely, I see what closely resembles the old desert storm chocolate chip pattern in the background of the arid and transitional uniforms. I would be interested if someone else sees the same. The woodland looks to be a smeared version of the old M-81. Why issue something like this when you can just go back and re-issue the old stuff and save more money. I see no innovation with these camouflage patterns.
    The Kryptec stuff looks hi-tech and interesting. But some of my buddies mentioned they really didn’t want to run around looking like a lizard. I think I would have to agree with them. And I don’t see it being any more effective than what is out there now. Also, I have a feeling that Kryptec will have issues with supply since they are only 4 people. And if they get help in manufacturing, which I am sure they will need, it will raise the cost of the gear and uniforms.

    For the record, I am not a MultiCam junkie. What I really liked, and was really hoping for, was the Pencott stuff to win out. I thought it looked effective and sharp. Just my two cents with the help of my fellow buddies.

    • Strikehold says:

      Thank you for those lengthy and thoughtful comments. I think you make a lot of very valid points, it remains to be seen whether or not the Army sees it that way in the end. ;-)

      I understand that Crye do not want to reveal their woodland and desert patterns so as not to cannibalize their profitable MultiCam business, and also so as not to have to deal with the problem of counterfeiters again.

  3. wordman says:

    Still no good, they should take the lead from KA2 customs camo and finnish digital desert for a transitional camo.

    • Greg says:

      Transitional basically has the same color shade of that of Multicam, minus the slithers of white and pink. Aside from that it looks ok to us. Also keep in mind the A – Version unlike the D – Version was already tested in the same manner as the army is curently putting it through and showed high interest in the A’s desert and transitonal patterns even the woodland one too, and my gut tells me they will have to pick this one.

  4. Greg says:

    Adding on that ADS also has it’s OCIE/PPE camo i.e. the 4th pattern for vest and equipment, witch no other contender has in their possession.

  5. Lcon says:

    Correct me If I am wrong but I thought Scorpion was a early generation of Multicam, part of the Crye/Natic coop that cooked up the Objective force 2012 warrior way back when.

    • Strikehold says:

      That’s right. “Scorpion” was the prototype version of MultiCam.

  6. Greg says:

    Please, crye developing a woodland / desert versions just further debunks their crazy myths (like UCP did) about MC working in every inviroment just shows how pathetically desperate they are. When it only worked in afghanistan and no where else, ADS’s US4CES FTW and you still have to much UCP in inventory plus the army wants to keep the branding in the digital realm along with the marines and the navy and is still the future of camo. And as for Kryptec, it’s way too advanced and looks hell expensive too. And the army can’t dish out all that money so it would make sense to keep the branding and go with something new while keeping it affordable. As for the other contenders, like piss poor candidates running for office they should just drop out and save us the headaches.

  7. Nigel Wright says:

    That desert pattern looks very similar to the colour patterns in Tibet-tarn. Plagirism from the PLA anyone?

  8. Jeff says:

    Multicam winning would make the most sense, we have some already in the inventory, we have industry already supporting it, our allies are using it. The only problem is will their desert and woodland perform well enough compared to the others. I hope this isn’t all in vain and the Army sticks with the crap they have, but at the same time it is crazy how much the Army has waste UCP. Hopefully the troops get the best product in the end.