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Source: Army to wear-test digital MultiCam pattern

Feb. 28, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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An Army source says the service is looking to wear-test a digital pattern that incorporates the colors found in MultiCam camouflage, shown here. (1st Lt. Cory Titus/Army)
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The Army will soon wear-test a digital camouflage pattern inspired by MultiCam, a source tells Army Times.

If successful, this could become the standard Army Combat Uniform pattern for soldiers in garrison and while deployed.

This isn’t the only option, however. The Army continues to consider dressing soldiers in Marine and Navy camo patterns, under certain scenarios, according to the source, who has knowledge of the testing plan.

An Army spokesman confirmed Friday that the service was launching wear-tests but would only say the tests will incorporate “various camouflage patterns.”

Testing is scheduled for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Locations will include:

■Fort Polk, La.

■Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.

■Fort Shafter, Hawaii

■Fort Benning, Ga.

The source, who requested anonymity, said the Army is examining a digital design that uses the same colors as in MultiCam.

Complicating matters has been the stipulation Congress approved in the 2014 Defense Authorization Act that directed the Defense Department to “to adopt and field a common combat and camouflage utility uniform, or family of uniforms, for specific combat environments, to be used by all members of the armed forces.”

This stipulation has the Army taking a closer look at the camouflage patterns of their peers.

It was the Marine Corps that fielded the first digital-style camouflage pattern — MARPAT— in 2002, which led each service to develop its own design, including the Army’s beleaguered Universal Camouflage Pattern.

MARPAT is recognized as the best and most effective combat uniform, according to a 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office.

But Marine Corps officials have not always embraced the idea of other services adopting it. The Navy, while not using MARPAT, does use similar woodland and desert variants.

Both of the the Navy and Marine patterns appear to be on the Army’s radar and under serious consideration. A source confirmed that, if selected, these patterns would only be used in specific regions and circumstances. The digital version of MultiCam would be the primary pattern for the Army Combat Uniform at home and on most deployments, a source confirmed.

The Army in 2010 began shopping for three new combat uniforms — a woodland variant, a desert variant and a “transitional” variant that covers everything in between. Twenty-two patterns were tested from June 2010 through September 2011.

Fifty uniforms for each camouflage pattern were put through extensive field trials in 2012.

PEO Soldier at the time said the official recommendations would be submitted to leadership in October 2012 with production beginning in early 2013.

Late last year it looked like the Army was on the cusp of making an announcement.

In September, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler said the Army’s next camouflage uniform should come in different colors for different environments, and the pattern would be similar to MultiCam.

Less than two weeks earlier, the Army had entered into negotiations with Crye Precision, of New York City, for the rights to MultiCam. Crye was one of four industry competitors that were identified as finalists in the Army’s competition for new camouflage.

However, negotiations between the Army and Crye Precision have since broken down over the cost, according to an Army source.

Staff writers Andrew Tilghman and Lance Bacon contributed to this report.

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