Reports: Army selects new camouflage uniform pattern
By JON HARPER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 27, 2014
WASHINGTON — The Army has chosen the new camouflage pattern for its combat uniform, according to news reports.
The service has not officially announced its decision, but anonymous Army officials told Military.com and Army Times that the Scorpion pattern has been selected to replace the current Universal Camouflage Pattern.
When contacted by Stars and Stripes, Army officials would not confirm that the Scorpion pattern had been chosen.
According to Military.com, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler III has been briefing senior sergeants major throughout the Army about the new pattern for the Army Combat Uniform.
It is unclear when the Army will officially announce its decision or when soldiers will begin wearing the new uniform design.
For years, the Army had been reviewing different options for replacing the UCP. The service was reportedly planning on announcing its decision last year, but a provision in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act dictated that the services could not field new service-specific camouflage uniforms. Lawmakers are requiring all the services to adopt and field similar combat uniforms by October 2018, although the mandate does not apply to special forces.
In March, Col. Robert F. Mortlock, project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, said that the service had completed “the most extensive uniform camouflage testing in history,” which involved thousands of soldiers, including those deployed in Afghanistan.
“We have testimonials from soldiers in theater close enough to the enemy to hear them saying they can’t see the American [when they’re wearing the new camouflage patterns]. That’s powerful. That’s a combat multiplier,” according to Mortlock.
“The bottom line is the enemy can’t kill, hurt or injure who they can’t see,” Mortlock said.
The Army is looking to field a new family of camouflage patterns tailored to unique environments, including separate patterns designed for arid, transitional semi-wooded, or heavily wooded terrain.
The decision to field and develop an alternative camouflage for uniforms came out of the realization that its current UCP did not meet all of the concealment needs for Afghanistan’s multiple regions, according to the Army. The service hopes that the environment-specific patterns will be superior to the UCP, which is intended to provide concealment in all of those environments.
Mortlock laid out how the new uniform was developed. During testing, soldiers wearing the different prototype patterns conducted movements at a variety of distances amid different lighting and background. Other soldiers were timed as they tried to spot the camouflaged troops.
Tests showed that from 25 yards to 50 yards, the camouflage pattern is critical for blending into the environment. At greater distances, the pattern itself is less important than the general colors of the camouflage, according to Mortlock.
Soldiers who tested the MultiCam in Afghanistan — the pattern which is reportedly similar to the Scorpion design — gave the uniform high marks, according to the Army. It is unclear how well the Scorpion compared with the MultiCam. According to Military.com, Army officials wanted to buy the MultiCam design from Crye Precision, but the contractor wanted more money than the service was willing to pay.
Mortlock emphasized that the uniform won’t be completely different than the current one.
“We’re not changing the combat uniform,” Mortlock said. “It’ll still be called the Army Combat Uniform. All that we’re doing is updating the camouflage.”
Soldiers participate in uniform field testing at Fort Bliss Training Center on Sept. 21, 2012. The soldiers tested multiple uniforms for their thermal reflection during both the day and night. The Army has chosen a new camouflage pattern called "Scorpion" for its combat uniform, according to news reports on May 27, 2014.
Andrew Porch/U.S. Army