New Army Combat Uniform – sort of

Comments and references to the in-depth article written by Kyle Jahner, Army Times Staff writer.

OCP shooter us army photo

As we read, the Army finally transitions to new Army Combat Uniform in July – well sort of. This is both a new garment design and a revised camouflage pattern. I say revised because if you follow Army camouflage since 2010 in particular and the Army Camouflage Study you are aware of the extensive process followed to select a more effective pattern than Universal Camouflage Pattern or UCP.  UCP may have moved along to selection at too fast a pace in response to the USMC digital and the quest for just one pattern for all or most environments. We thought the UCP pattern was the best at the time – we now know we missed the mark. We also thought that Velcro (hook and loop) was the best way to close pockets – well, again “yes and no.”

We need to congratulate the Army on is it’s willingness to change and modify what we thought was the best at that time and make it even better. As technology changes and enables improvements such as taking weight out of an item or making an item more durable or more protective for Solider, the Army is right there willing to evaluate these changes and continue to make gear and equipment better. Even in this environment of tight budgets, the Army continues to move forward and improve Soldier capabilities.

The two changes are (1) the selection and naming of Operational Camouflage Pattern as distinct from Scorpion or MultiCam — and (2) eight design changes to the garment design. According to the Army a four-year transitional phase designed is planned.

Col. Robert Mortlock, Army Program Manager of Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, stressed the Army’s “fiscally responsible” integration of the new ACUs.indicated that “We’re going to transition over time.”  According to Army Times writers, Mortlock praised the new OCP as the product of years of operational tests, developmental tests and photo simulations across a wide spectrum of environments. The Army tested several competing patterns including commercial submissions like such as MultiCam, Kryptek, Hyperstealth and others.

Starting next month, through 2019, there will be three different uniforms authorized for wear for soldiers in garriso, (1) ACUs with the gray-green Universal Camouflage Pattern, (2) Flame-resistant ACUs using MultiCam (issued to deploying soldiers since 2010), and (3) ACUs with the new OCP pattern.

Its interesting tThe new Army Combat Boot is coyote brown.hat the Army policy is to allow Soldiers to fall out in 3 different uniforms during this four year transition. Not sure how that will play out at the unit level.  At the same time, the Army is introducing new coyote brown boots featuring 100% Solution Dyed Nylon Cordura fabric.

The uniform rollout will consist of three phases.

July: 19 installations, including Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Benning, Georgia; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Drum, New York; Fort Carson, Colorado; and South Korea.

Sept: 28 installations, including National Capital Region (including the Pentagon); Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Knox, Kentucky; and Germany.

Nov: 63 installations, including Fort Gordon, Georgia; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Fort Lee, Virginia; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

UPDATE: Uniforms and equipment in the Operational Camouflage Pattern will be available for U.S. Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, and Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps during summer 2016.  

The uniforms will become standard issue in clothing bags in January.  When asked if the OCP and MulitCam are the same patterns the Program Office answered this way:  “They are different patterns. But they perform very similarly in providing that concealment to soldiers.”  OCP uses a similar color palette of greens, browns and beige as MultiCam OCP seems to have a less intricate pattern, lacks MultiCam’s vertical elements, and has colors that are slightly more green.

A full ACU currently costs $102.04, according to the Army. That includes coat ($41.86), trousers ($42.43), patrol cap ($7.41), riggers belt ($3.73), T-shirt ($4.48) and drawers ($2.13).

Design changes

According to the Army Times article this is what is new from a garment design:

  • Mandarin Collar: A new fold-down design eliminates the hook-and-loop closure and the flap extension.
  • Upper Sleeve Pocket: A zipper replaces the hook-and-loop closure. The Infrared Identification Friend or Foe Tab will be covered with a nylon tap on both sleeves. The pocket will be longer by one inch.
  • Elbow Patch: Internal pads removed along with the hook-and-loop; double fabric reinforcement retained.
  • Sleeve Pen Pocket: Two pen pocket channels instead of three.
  • Trouser Waistband: No longer includes drawstring.
  • Cargo Pocket: No longer includes cord-and-barrel lock.
  • Knee Patch: As with elbow pads, no more internal pads or hook-and-lock, double-fabric reinforcement remains.
  • Lower Leg Pocket Flap: Button Closure added as another hook-and-loop closure disappears.

Gear and accessoriesMOLLE

The Army will also issue organizational clothing and individual equipment in the OCP pattern. That means rucks, body armor and helmets will eventually be covered in OCP material.  While uniforms can mix camouflage patterns, UCP uniforms cannot be worn when using OCP or MultiCam gear. Another note of interest is that the Army decided not to follow the Marine Corps in issuing coyote-brown color equipment.  According to the Army Times, “Our testing indicates that it’s better for concealment if OCIE camouflage pattern matches your uniform. That’s going to provide better concealment,” Mortlock said.

Desert and woodland variants

Getting back to the Army study, the original intent was to have three camouflage patterns: desert, jungle, and transitional. The OCP pattern is a transitional pattern. It’s unclear whether the Army will eventually issue desert and jungle variants of the uniform.

US Army Photo

US Army Photo

The long road from UCP to OCP we all know was started way back when with Future Force Warrior and before and navigated through Scorpion to UCP to MultiCam and finally OCP. For those interested in reliving how we came to be where we are today, please review the complete article at http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/careers/army/2015/06/01/acu-uniform-camouflage-rollout/28166585/  For another even more in-depth analysis check out http://www.hyperstealth.com/c3/

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