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Camouflage Wars Part VII


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Or is it part VIII?

Anyway, today's Washington Post had yet another article on the camouflaged uniforms debacle:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/army-seems-ready-to-scrap-its-efforts-for-new-camouflage-as-congress-looks-for-uniformity/2013/11/14/c3637ab2-4d6f-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html

Recent Army Times article referenced in WP article:

http://www.armytimes.com/article/20131106/NEWS07/311060022/

John Hairell (tpn18@yahoo.com)

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I'd like know a few things about camouflage uniforms. What is the average lifespan of a combat uniform for an infantryman deployed in a situation similar to U.S. troops in the Afghan countryside? How much more effective (based presumably on studies conducted, or accounts by combat infantrymen) is a patterned camouflage versus a single-color combat uniform (for example, khaki or some sort of pale green drab).

I ask, because I wonder if too much emphasis is placed on patterned uniforms altogether. Could it make sense just to issue combat troops a single-color uniform, and a set of paints for staining their own pattern in the field if, for procurement purposes, their uniforms generally only last a single campaign or deployment anyway?

Shouldn't sailors be wearing bright-orange fire-retardant jump suits, while at sea? Is there a sensible reason why this hasn't happened, other than a possibly-negative effect on recruitment?

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Finally - we are going to a "universal" camouflage uniform. Given that the Army is the largest service, I just want to be the first to say that those Marines are going to look real pretty in ACU's :) They can always take a sharpie and draw a globe and anchor on the shirt so they stand out from the masses...

Fish - This link was posted on another thread about this topic. It's a bit involved but does a good job of explaining the pros and cons of each type of uniform. The interesting thing was that some of the uniforms that do a very good job of concealing you during the day actually highlight you at night. The USMC MARPAT uniform is a good example.

http://www.hyperstealth.com/camo-improvement/

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This whole thing is stupid! 10 uniforms! BDUS's for everyone! Done!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqPzFLc2J-4

You get the idea

Actually, that link I posted does a good job of explaining why the new pixelated uniforms do a much better job of concealing you (assuming you don't do something stupid like the Army did with the ACU's). Much superior to the multi-color "blob" patterns like BDU's.

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How much more effective (based presumably on studies conducted, or accounts by combat infantrymen) is a patterned camouflage versus a single-color combat uniform (for example, khaki or some sort of pale green drab).

Uniforms serve multiple purposes. There are many times you want to be seen and identified. Patterns help with that, and having a single uniform for all US soldiers help with that as well.

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What is the average lifespan of a combat uniform for an infantryman deployed in a situation similar to U.S. troops in the Afghan countryside?

Everyone's different, but they'll last the deployment for most. If you need another because you tore or rip a set you exchange it. Only issue I ever had with any of the uniforms issued was the first set of ACU's they came out with, but they fixed the shortcomings on those already.

How much more effective (based presumably on studies conducted, or accounts by combat infantrymen) is a patterned camouflage versus a single-color combat uniform (for example, khaki or some sort of pale green drab).

There were several units wearing single color uniforms in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they switched to multicam in 2010. Camo hasn't really been a huge issue for the past decade.

I ask, because I wonder if too much emphasis is placed on patterned uniforms altogether. Could it make sense just to issue combat troops a single-color uniform, and a set of paints for staining their own pattern in the field if, for procurement purposes, their uniforms generally only last a single campaign or deployment anyway?

Staining? That would never work, but different uniform patterns for different environments is one of the lesson learned from the ACU.

Shouldn't sailors be wearing bright-orange fire-retardant jump suits, while at sea? Is there a sensible reason why this hasn't happened, other than a possibly-negative effect on recruitment?

I always thought Dickies made sense for most in the military.

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Staining? That would never work, but different uniform patterns for different environments is one of the lesson learned from the ACU.

I mean "staining" in the general sense of coloring. I'd make the paint or stains in, say, two greens, a brown, a very light gray, and a near-black (anthracite). Either a set of small spray cans, or big, permanent markers. The base color of the uniform could be a khaki, possibly with a mild green or gray hue. This could be a "Master Uniform, All Locations," or MAUL. The colors would also work for body armor, light equipment, or any future exoskeletal hardware the services procure.

If the colors fade, so what? Reapply. If the op is over quickly, so what? It's a small cost compared to service-wide (and possibly civilian agencies, including law enforcement and park service) economies.

It's the acronym that would sell it, of course.

Uniforms serve multiple purposes. There are many times you want to be seen and identified. Patterns help with that, and having a single uniform for all US soldiers help with that as well.

I tend to think this, the great paradox of camouflage in warfare, is the biggest downside to my screwball idea. Possibly, with augmented-reality hardware (a militarized Google Glass), troops can have some sort of visual IFF system.

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I always thought Dickies made sense for most in the military.

But how can an Airman or Sailor feel like a special ops killing machine when he/she is wearing Dickies?

They deserve high-speed cammo just like the other services.

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"We WANT the enemy to know its The US Marines comming for them!"

Never understood that. If everyone's in the the same uniform, the enemy can't pick or chose who they go up against, and thus must be very wary of everyone. If you're an elite killing team, wouldn't you want to look like an inviting, common target to encourage your prey to come to you in an overconfident, reckless manner?

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Never understood that. If everyone's in the the same uniform, the enemy can't pick or chose who they go up against, and thus must be very wary of everyone. If you're an elite killing team, wouldn't you want to look like an inviting, common target to encourage your prey to come to you in an overconfident, reckless manner?

Here it is in all it's glory: :salute:

The Commandant responsible for the introduction of MARPAT, General James Jones, did allow that it benefited the Marines for the enemy to know who they were up against. The Marine Corps developed a well honed reputation over the last couple of centuries and General Jones sought to capitilize on that to the benefit of the mission and the Marines
Edited by toadwbg
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(In my best paraphrasing Tom Lehrer voice:) And explaining, absolutely, nothing... :doh:/> (Not a knock at you, Toadwbg.)

Did Gen. Jones ever provide details how "it benefited the Marines for the enemy to know who they were up against," and how it "capitilize[d] on that to the benefit of the mission and the Marines."? I'm a big fan of cause and effect reasoning and consistent, repeated example.

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If they really felt that way, they should go to war in their dress blues.

Don't tempt us.

I do think its funny though that the USMC, that generally tries to steer clear of fancy patches, badges, berets, tabs, etc that are found on army combat uniforms; and yet suddenly these whacky jarheads have this wild idea that maybe having some items that differentiate you from other units is a good thing. :deadhorse1:

Edited by TaiidanTomcat
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Never understood that. If everyone's in the the same uniform, the enemy can't pick or chose who they go up against, and thus must be very wary of everyone. If you're an elite killing team, wouldn't you want to look like an inviting, common target to encourage your prey to come to you in an overconfident, reckless manner?

No, you want your reputation to proceed you(or even better they inflate your reputation) and they give up, and before anyone can say "thats horse puckey" there are tons of incidents from Korea to Iraq that have had enemies steering clear of units that were elite or just giving up entirely based on what they wear.

Finally - we are going to a "universal" camouflage uniform. Given that the Army is the largest service, I just want to be the first to say that those Marines are going to look real pretty in ACU's :)/> They can always take a sharpie and draw a globe and anchor on the shirt so they stand out from the masses...

Yes Finally! Its been a long what... 10 years? And keeping in mind the army masses switched to digital in order to be more like the Marines in the first place.

It would be Multicam too BTW. The only service batcrap stupid enough to embrace ACUs was the army, and even they figured out it sucked... eventually :touche:/>

and have been stepping away from it.

I mean I don't know I'm just spitballin here, but the embarrassment of putting a Marine Emblem on a set of ACUs pales in comparison to say, developing your own camo for years (multicam) and then when another service changes knee jerking into a poor copy, then trying to one up them by making it a "universal pattern" that never worked, and setting off a chain reaction of other camos by other services that also never worked, as the army started the trend that blending in was very secondary to keeping up with the Marines. Say what you will about the Navy's blueberry camo, they never thought of it as anything effectiv-- the army was still preaching ACUs blended in well after it was obvious it was just another "gimmickflauge" luckily they didnt further embarrass themselves by changing all their gear and packs to the same color too.

I wouldn't want to wear ACUs not just because its a giant neon sign that says the army is reactionary and stupid, but because its stands out in that, I'm easy to see neon sign, easy to shoot kind of way that I have never really been a fan of.

Edited by TaiidanTomcat
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.....and it was the Marines who started this whole uniform mess even going as far as putting a globe and anchor on their boots. I personally think its a good idea having the Marines in different uniforms, it makes it easier to find them when they need help.

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.....and it was the Marines who started this whole uniform mess even going as far as putting a globe and anchor on their boots. I personally think its a good idea having the Marines in different uniforms, it makes it easier to find them when they need help.

:popcorn:

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.....and it was the Marines who started this whole uniform mess even going as far as putting a globe and anchor on their boots.

Lets analyze this for a second. The Marine Corps procured at very little cost a more effective combat uniform for its most important weapon, the rifleman. It was intelligently field tested by Scout/Snipers and colors adjusted and refined accordingly. It should have been am easy model to follow for anyone else who chose to.

The army instead decided to the exact opposite of everything the Marines did the right way, then proceeded to "blame" the marines for "starting it." I'm sorry you guys couldn't be smart, and attempting to imitate the Marines caused you such problems and heartache and billions wasted, but we can only do so much to protect you from yourselves. We can't be Babysitting you and the Navy. Its just too much.

:rofl:

Is this the part were we are told that once again those stupid jarheads outfoxed the army into switching to a substandard pattern? Or can the army maybe take responsibility for the multi billion dollar screw up instead of this "you started it" school boy nonsense?

I've said it before and I will say it again the Army could have continued Multicam Development or change the hue or tone in MARPAT added their own emblem and no one would be the wiser. Hell they might have even tried field tests that would improve on MARPAT. (How about digital in multicam colors? thus building on the research already invested?) You'll notice when the US Army decided everyone should wear a black beret, that no other services suddenly decided everyone needed a beret. There is no rule that says one service changing a uniform means everyone else must too.

You racked yourself on your bike seat trying to emulate an X-games stunt and then blamed the X games competitor for your amateur attempt.Next time the Marines should write "Kids don't try this at home, these are trained professionals" on the tag.

I still can't believe the Marines did everything right, and the army did everything wrong and we are talking about the Marines blowing it? Come on now. MARPAT is successful, the procurement went excellently, it should be used as an example of getting it right throughout the Pentagon. How dare they vastly improve their camo through practical testing with field experts at minimal expense to the taxpayer!? Luckily the army wouldn't let something that great happen twice, and the navy and air force even one upped them!

I personally think its a good idea having the Marines in different uniforms, it makes it easier to find them when they need help.

Too bad we wear the camo that actually blends in remember thats the point of camoflauge to be harder to find. :taunt:

:popcorn:/>

Other than the typos, I hope that was enjoyable.

Edited by TaiidanTomcat
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Lets analyze this for a second. The Marine Corps procured at very little cost a more effective combat uniform for its most important weapon, the rifleman. It was intelligently field tested by Scout/Snipers and colors adjusted and refined accordingly. It should have been am easy model to follow for anyone else who chose to.

The army instead decided to the exact opposite of everything the Marines did the right way, then proceeded to "blame" the marines for "starting it." I'm sorry you guys couldn't be smart, and attempting to imitate the Marines caused you such problems and heartache and billions wasted, but we can only do so much to protect you from yourselves. We can't be Babysitting you and the Navy. Its just too much.

:rofl:/>/>

Is this the part were we are told that once again those stupid jarheads outfoxed the army into switching to a substandard pattern? Or can the army maybe take responsibility for the multi billion dollar screw up instead of this "you started it" school boy nonsense?

Even though I'm ex-Army, I have to agree with you on most of this stuff.

To me there are two issues at play here - the first is a need for an effective combat uniform, regardless of specific service. The other issue is "branding". People seem to confuse those two, including the military services.

I'm all for an effective combat uniform, and it's obvious the Army committed a major clusterf**k with the ACU. So let's get the Army either Multicam or an effectively better camo of some sort. The Army's argument against change because the Congress might weigh in is also interesting - it's like saying, "Due to current budget constraints we have to spend money elsewhere, and we can't waste it on camo uniform changes, but we could afford to waste it in previous years (decades) when money flowed like water, even though the uniform didn't work in actual operational conditions! Right now the operational tempo is winding down so it's not as important as it used to be. Maybe we will be ready in time for the next war. But this time if we don't get it right we can blame it on Congress!"

And let's stop all this stuff about having the service name or symbol worked into the camo pattern, or on the boots, or whatever. The service chiefs and their PR flacks and advisors need to get out of the fashion business and into the warfighting business.

And whatever the Army gets, they need to stop paying monthly royalty fees to commercial suppliers. If the Army can't develop an effective camo uniform on it's own or procure one without being constantly indebted to commercial vendors then it has major problems.

John Hairell (tpn18@yahoo.com)

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Too bad we wear the camo that actually blends in remember thats the point of camoflauge to be harder to find. :taunt:/>/>/>/>

Except at night when (according to that study above) MARPAT actually HIGHLIGHTS you to anyone using NVG's. But hey, we all know that in the next war the Corp fights, only the good guys will have night vision.

There are deficiencies with ALL the patterns currently in use. The ACU is by far the worst (and IMO warrants a congressional investigation on how the Army ever approved it in the first place).

Someone at the top needs to step up and make a command decision that all services will standardize on a couple of patterns that are tested properly and shown to be effective. If the jarheads want to add a bit of swag to their uniforms, so be it. Who really cares? They can keep their globe and anchors, while the Army keeps their wings, CIB's EIB's (anyone still wear these things?), unit patches, combat patches, tabs, etc, etc. Keep all the body armor, packs, pouches, etc in Coyote Brown. And while you are at it, start fielding weapons that are the same color.

While I'm on my rant - What's the point of investing in the best camo on the planet and then giving everyone a glossy-black weapon, equipped with glossy black sights, shiny magazines, etc? Special forces have been using camo-finished weapons for years. I'm sure this will upset many old school officers who feel that any weapon should be black, just because.... These were probably the same guys that felt that any issued combat boot needed to be shiny black leather.

For the Army to now say that the replacement uniform program is on hold is also BS. The ACU's were replaced in Afghanistan because troops felt that they were endangered by the damn things. Are we now saying that this is a non-issue? What's more important than troop survivability? Or if this is really a non-issue and not worth the $, why did the Army spend all that money to issue Multicam to deployed units in the first place? This whole saga is just a sad joke...

Edited by 11bee
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Except at night when (according to that study above) MARPAT actually HIGHLIGHTS you to anyone using NVG's. But hey, we all know that in the next war the Corp fights, only the good guys will have night vision.

John that study was down by someone trying to promote their own color pattern. Its about as scientific and unbiased as my love for the Steelers over the Patriots. He is trying to promote a 3D pixel pattern for sale. This picture for example

MARPAT-vs-US4CES-Woodland-Sony-Nightshot_small.jpg

Is just a picture of the two patterns side by side down with a Sony camera on night, its not even against an environmental back drop. its just two pieces of clothing.

I'm not saying MARPAT is perfect, just that that study is bull crap. (granted I didn't read it all)

The ACU is by far the worst (and IMO warrants a congressional investigation on how the Army ever approved it in the first place).

Agreed.

Someone at the top needs to step up and make a command decision that all services will standardize on a couple of patterns that are tested properly and shown to be effective. If the jarheads want to add a bit of swag to their uniforms, so be it. Who really cares?

This thread shows that a lot of people "really care"

While I'm on my rant - What's the point of investing in the best camo on the planet and then giving everyone a glossy-black weapon, equipped with glossy black sights, shiny magazines, etc? Special forces have been using camo-finished weapons for years. I'm sure this will upset many old school officers who feel that any weapon should be black, just because.... These were probably the same guys that felt that any issued combat boot needed to be shiny black leather.

I agree with you on this, however its the same people that are calling for a "uniform, uniform" that ensures this won't happen. Lets say for example Tomorrow the USMC paints all their weapons coyote brown. And then the next day the army paints all theirs neon orange. and then the USAF covers theirs in reflective tape, Is the USMC innovating and improving and upsetting the status quo in trouble yet again for starting a trend that people were too dumb to emulate correctly?

Naturally we expect the military to be innovative in one area and traditionalist in others, so now we want exotic camo on weapons while eliminating different patterns for different troops. If you really think that some universal camo command that will (Shocker!) be run by the army would be better I have bad news for you. IF such a commande existed in say 2005, the USMC woul be forced into the ACUs we all agree suck, and exacerbating the problem.

"Never confuse creating a new command with creating new competence"

I don't inherently believe in uniformity just for uniformity sakes. I believe the USMC generally knows whats best for the USMC, like how the army generally knows whats best for the army and so. honestly I wouldn't have a problem with each service had their own pattern so long as they were effective, however I think a lot of us agree that its probably better to eliminate some redundancy as well. The USN's desert and woodland are very redundant for example. (more on that below) So if it was up to me, This is what I would do:

USMC keeps MARPAT, the Navy uses MARPAT when needed

The Army Keeps Multicam, the Air Force uses it when needed.

IMG_6385.jpg

Here is Navy pattern III What those whacky squids did was take the original USMC concept (the olive was replaced by coyote brown to make production MARPAT) which is what I was saying the Army should have done all along.

For the Army to now say that the replacement uniform program is on hold is also BS. The ACU's were replaced in Afghanistan because troops felt that they were endangered by the damn things. Are we now saying that this is a non-issue? What's more important than troop survivability? Or if this is really a non-issue and not worth the $, why did the Army spend all that money to issue Multicam to deployed units in the first place? This whole saga is just a sad joke...

I believe they are referring not to multicam or ACU, but a 3rd future camo contest. (ARC threads for the nest 10 years)

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John that study was down by someone trying to promote their own color pattern. Its about as scientific and unbiased as my love for the Steelers over the Patriots. He is trying to promote a 3D pixel pattern for sale. Is just a picture of the two patterns side by side down with a Sony camera on night, its not even against an environmental back drop. its just two pieces of clothing.

I'm not saying MARPAT is perfect, just that that study is bull crap. (granted I didn't read it all)

It seemed pretty comprehensive to me but hey, I am by no means an expert on the subject. If the MARPAT scheme works well against regular NVG's and thermals, than kudo's to the Corp - they nailed it!

I still think that if the ACU's were so crappy that the Army spent millions to issue Afghanistan-bound troops Multicam then their replacement should still be a top priority to the Army. Reading those articles, it came across that the replacement program is now on hold.

Maybe the Army still has a huge warehouse full of 80's era BDU's. If they can't afford to come up with new patterns to replace the ACU's, go back to woodland BDU's. It would still be an improvement over what is currently being worn. Or hope the next conflict is against invading aliens who can only see in shades of grey.

Edited by 11bee
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The SMA said it was on hold and a pattern had been decided that is similar to multicam. Now I don't know if the DoD bought the rights and are calling it something different or its a different pattern similar to what we are being issued now during RFI. One thing to remember when people call the ACU a waste is that the bulk of the funds it cost to implement is tied in with OCIE. The changes in OCIE would have happened anyway, regardless of pattern making the actual cost nowhere near as bad as you're reading in the papers. Multicam is needed in Afghanistan and the funding for that comes from a different pot of money called OCO that isn't tied into the DoD budget. Sequestration is the new name in the game and it is literally stopping us in our tracks. Say it costs the Army only 1 billion, that's 40 NTC/JRTC rotations. It's also a bitter pill to swallow watching different programs still get funding while we could possibly see a carrier group taken out of the mix, an Army of 360K and USMC of 150K, and an AF incapable of owning the sky.

Combat branched units can paint their own weapons and I believe soft skilled folks too, its up to the individual. However, it really isn't needed, our combat operations in OEF are pretty much done.

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