Okay, let’s quell some more rumors and misinformation that’s flying around at the moment due to stories on the internet – stories that appear to be based either on faulty intel, misunderstanding of the facts, exaggerations of rumors, or on inputs from dubious sources.
Who knows. Anyways, here’s the rundown straight from a PEO Soldier Media Update (with my comments and highlights added in bold and/or parentheses).
As part of the ongoing effort to improve Soldiers uniforms, the Army continues to research new camouflage patterns to be printed on the existing Army Combat Uniform (ACU) design. (note: no changes to the uniform, just the camo)
The ACU was presented to Senior Army leadership in December 2003 for potential Army fielding. The ACU was developed based on many months of research and development. It decreased the out-of-pocket cost burden on our younger Soldiers by replacing the three types of Battle Dress Uniforms with a one-weight, wash-and-wear uniform with improved functionality and ergonomics.
(note: log that, the uniform was redesigned before the change in camo came along. So maybe part of the explanation for rushing ahead with the untested, unproven, unintended, 3-color digital pattern that became known as UCP was in order to get the new uniform into service on time, or as soon as possible. I’m by no means excusing or defending the camo choice, becuase it is a fiasco as a pattern, but this might help provide some additional context around the question of “why”.)
In 2009, the Secretary of the Army approved a four-phase approach to provide uniforms for personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern better suited to the Afghanistan environment and to evaluate an Army long-term uniform camouflage plan. Phases I-III were focused on improving Army uniform camouflage in Afghanistan. These phases are complete and culminated with the fielding of the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) (aka, MultiCam) Camouflage Pattern to Soldiers in and deploying to Afghanistan. (see: Congress tells Army to get new camo – ASAP and US Army camo testing in Afghanistan)
The Phase IV Camouflage Effort seeks to select a family of three patterns comprising the woodland, arid, and transitional environments, which will allow the Army to operate in different terrains and conditions around the globe. The Phase IV patterns are undergoing field trials and the data from those trials will be taken to Army senior leadership for review. This will be followed by a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the Army will adopt a new camouflage pattern. The Army understands the financial constraints on the DoD and the nation, and we are committed to conducting this research and making any future camouflage uniform changes in an affordable and fiscally responsible manner. (note: emphasis added – log that bit)
The cost of adopting a new family of camouflage patterns will depend on many factors, including how widely the new uniform pattern would be fielded and how fast it would be adopted. (note: emphasis added – log that bit. this is what I’ve been saying – logistics DO matter, a lot!)
If a new camouflage pattern uniform is phased in to replace existing uniforms as they are worn out, the program would either issue new uniforms to incoming soldiers or would replace older uniforms that would need replacement anyway. (note: did you log that big fat “if” there?)
Soldiers are our strength and purpose and deserve the best we can offer. The Army will enhance the survivability, safety, mobility, and sustainability of Soldiers by providing state-of-the-art, operationally effective individual clothing and equipment. The Army has applied the lessons learned during development, testing, and fielding of the UCP and OCP patterns to devise a better scientific testing program for evaluating camouflage.
(note: did you get that? the Army admits it stepped on its **** with UCP, and they’re gonna make sure they make up for it this time. so, you can place your bets on whatever pattern you want as the one that MIGHT win in the end, but its still not 100% certain that the Army WILL change its camo pattern, and if so to which one. And if the Army does decide to change, there will be at least 3 or 4 possible courses of action to take, and at least as many pattern options to choose from, in fact it could end up not being one of the commercial vendors’ patterns at all…)