As soon as the Army had begun the search for a new camouflage pattern, circa 2013, the service also started thinking about what to do with huge stocks of equipment covered in gray-green pixelation.
Cut to 2018, and the Army has just about a year and a half left of wear for the Universal Camouflage Pattern, which was replaced by the green and brown blotches of the Operational Camouflage Uniform back in 2015. So what to do with all of that UCP gear?
A dye job might be the answer, according to the House Armed Services Committee’s most recent National Defense Authorization Act edit, and the Army is set to wrap up a study of how to do it later this year.
“This evaluation could validate processes that could alter UCP printed products into a color palette that blends with the new camouflage prints, allowing the Army to conserve resources by overdying [sic] UCP materials for use with OCP patterned equipment,” per the draft released April 25.
This wouldn’t include uniforms, according to a PEO Soldier spokeswoman, but rather about a million pieces of gear covered in nylon textured fabric, like assault packs and rucksacks.
“We will not overdye uniforms, helmets or other hardened goods because overdye testing showed poor results,” Debra Dawson told Army Times.
PEO has done several trials, trying to find the right color to coat the equipment and at least turn it the right shade of brown-green to match OCP, though not the camo pattern itself.
“We looked at all the colors in the OCP pattern and the Dark Brown tested the best in terms of blending and color match,” Dawson said.
Historically, the Army has found other ways to unload gear after a camo pattern switch, so this would be a first.
In the past, Dawson said, old gear has been unloaded through foreign military sales or the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, a clearinghouse for everything from gear to computers to vehicles, which are screened and evaluated, then donated, sold to police and firefighters or given to other federal agencies.
A completed proposal for how the Army would dye all of its eligible UCP stock is due to HASC by Aug. 31.
If approved, PEO Soldier could dye about 5,000 soldiers’ worth of gear a month, Dawson said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.