In 2004, the U.S. Army deployed a new, digitized camouflage pattern for its uniforms. Now, reports are that not only did the pixelated pattern cost $5 billion, but that it doesn’t work well in any environment and is soon to be replaced.
The Daily wrote on the “colossal mistake” of a uniform pattern over the weekend with experts and soldiers weighing in on the “fiasco”:
“Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,” said an Army specialist who served two tours in Iraq, wearing [Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP)] in Baghdad and the deserts outside Basra. “The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.”
The specialist asked that his name be withheld because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press.
“As a cavalry scout, it is my job to stay hidden. Wearing a uniform that stands out this badly makes it hard to do our job effectively,” he said. “If we can see our own guys across a distance because of it, then so can our enemy.”
Brandon Webb, editor of the website SOFREP (Special Operations Forces Report) and former Navy SEAL Sniper Head Instructor, said in an email to the Blaze that this snafu was a “huge let down to the U.S. tax payer.”
“It’s also proof that the antiquated Department of Defense acquisition system is broken and in desperate need of fixing,” said Webb, who talks more about the changing landscape of the military and acquisition process in his book “The Red Circle.” Webb also wrote his own post on the uniform debate here.
“I could develop a better solution in a few months and for under $100,000,” Webb said. “All I would need is a good graphics designer and a contract lab (for IR/Thermal spectrum testing). I was recently part of a camouflage development for the commercial hunting market and we developed a very good multi-environment pattern for $70,000. Just look at the success of Crye and their wildly successful Multicam pattern.”
So where did the gray-green uniform go wrong? The Daily reports that it got political.
“It got into political hands before the soldiers ever got the uniforms,” Army textile technologist Cheryl Stewardson said to The Daily, noting that Army brass sped along a decision before testing was complete. Camouflage researchers testing patterns for the Army in the early 2000s were pressured to choose a design like the “trendy” new one being used by the Marine Corps.
“If it’s good enough for the Marines, why shouldn’t the Army have that same cool new look?” Stewardson said to The Daily.
For now, researchers continue to test new patterns, but The Daily reports the new design is still about a year away.
Read more details in The Daily here.