Attention mall ninjas: that misurp camo you’re so fond of may make you look and feel like a real operator, but it may also make you an easier target. “Over the next year, America’s largest fighting force is swapping its camouflage pattern. The move is a quiet admission that the last uniform — a pixelated design that debuted in 2004 at a cost of $5 billion — was a colossal mistake,” reports thedaily.com. Turns out the Army’s universal camouflage pattern (UCP) is actually easier to spot than Lady Gaga in a monastery. Which kinda defeats the purpose, no? “Soldiers have roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it’s been worn. Industry insiders have called the financial mess surrounding the pattern a ‘fiasco.'” But cost obviously isn’t the worst part of the screw-up . . .
No, the worst part are the soldiers that became easier targets thanks to being issued conspicuous camo. There’s probably no way to quantify the number of killed and wounded that resulted.
“Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,” said an Army specialist who served two tours in Iraq, wearing UCP in Baghdad and the deserts outside Basra. “The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.”
This being a government run bureaucracy there’s an excellent reason for the camo design choice. And you don’t have to look too far for the people who chose the poorly performing pattern. They’re easy to spot since they’re all wearing shiny brass. From theweek.com:
Apparently, Army commanders were “envious” of the dust-colored pixelated camouflage being developed for the Marine Corps, and rushed to demand a similar pattern in their own colors, instead of playing it safe with the classic cloudy globs traditionally used for Army camouflage. Things went haywire when officials insisted on using the Army’s traditional grey-green color scheme, which, when paired with the pixels — not to mention darker gear — turned soldiers into walking targets. “Brand identity trumped camouflage utility,” says military journalist Eric Graves. “That’s what this really comes down to.”
After taking eight years to address the problem, the army’s now working furiously to test and deploy a new pattern that, you know, works. But that will take another year to complete. Until then, soldiers most immediately in harm’s way in Afghanistan have been issued green MultiCam. But the rest of the force is still stuck wearing the current pattern until a new one’s chosen and distributed.
It’s worth noting that, flawed as it was, the universal pattern did solve the problem of mismatched gear, said Eric Graves, editor of the military gear publication Soldier Systems Daily, adding that the pattern also gave soldiers a new-looking uniform that clearly identified the Army brand.
“Brand identity trumped camouflage utility,” Graves said. “That’s what this really comes down to: ‘We can’t allow the Marine Corps to look more cool than the Army.’ ”