The camouflage pattern will not stand alone among coming changes to the Army Combat Uniform. Joining the camo: a new belt, undershirt and boots.
The new personal gear, expected to roll out this summer, is darker to better match the new Operational Camouflage Pattern. Current lighter colors of the maligned gray Universal Camouflage Pattern would provide stark contrast to the new pattern.
Perhaps most visible: the default Desert Tan boots of today will give way to Coyote Brown 498. The darker color will blend better in a wider variety of environments, according to Program Executive Office Soldier. Coyote brown also does not show dirt or wear as easily as today's tan boots.
The T-shirt worn under the combat uniform and the belt will shift from Desert Tan colors to Tan 499, which also skews slightly darker, to better compliment the pattern.
The phase-out plan for the old boots, belt and shirt remains unclear. PEO Soldier referred questions concerning the phase-out to Army public affairs at the Pentagon, who did not immediately have an answer. It's also unclear if soldiers in garrison will have the option of wearing Desert Tan boots and shirts until they wear out.
To save costs, the Army is phasing out UCP until it runs out of the stocks, even after the summer rollout. UPC will be worn on post or during training, and not for operations.
The UPC pattern fell out of favor when the greenish-gray, digitized pattern proved inferior to other camouflage, particularly in Afghanistan.
The Army began developing alternatives in 2010, and soldiers have been wearing MultiCam in Afghanistan in recent years. MultiCam was in consideration to replace UCP, but talks reportedly broke down between the Army and Crye Precision, the maker of MultiCam. The OCP pattern was developed by the Army and features a color palette of muted greens, light beige and dark brown, similar to MultiCam.
OCP is not intended as a universal pattern. The Army plans to soon announce jungle and desert variants.
Other changes to the ACU to be rolled out this summer include:
- The internal knee and elbow pads will be gone.
- The upper-sleeve pocket will be an inch longer and zippered instead of Velcro.
- The cargo pocket will lose its cord-and-barrel lock.
- And the lower leg pocket flap will have a button rather than Velcro.