I am beginning to think that the Army's selection of the current Universal Camouflage Pattern might be one of the most embarrassing scandals to hit the Army in recent years. In previous posts in this blog (located here and here), I've questioned the logic of picking a pattern which was proven to be the worst-performing of the patterns which made it to the final phase of testing. But who am I to question the decisions of Program Executive Office-Soldier ("PEO Soldier"), the organization which is responsible for equipping all Soldiers in the US Army? Surely they must have their reasoning, right? Well, as it turns out, the current commander of PEO Soldier, Brigadier General Peter Fuller, can't figure out why PEO Soldier picked such a bad uniform in the first place, either.
But how bad can it really be, you ask? Well, apart from anecdotal evidence from Soldiers who have used the thing in wooded terrain, jungle terrain, and pretty much anything outside of a gravel pit, a test by Army Natick Soldier Research has shown a number of patterns that out-perform the UCP by anywhere from 16 to 36%, including Multicam and a pattern used by the Jordanian military.
This is one of many reasons that I am happy to have never bought in to the whole UCP craze. I always bought my backpacks in Coyote Tan. I feel sorry for all those people who bought UCP-pattern backpacks and laptop cases, because they might soon become obsolete (and they'll stick out like a sore thumb, too).
One suggestion that the Army Times brings up is that the UCP might be used as a garrison uniform, while the Multicam is used in combat. This might not be a bad idea—after all, the military strives on challenging training. If you can survive sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of a forest in Fort Bragg in "foliage green" (actually grey), you can survive anything.
My only concern is that there's going to be protests from the recruiters, who showcase the UCP in everything. I suspect they like the pattern because the pixels make the Army seem like a network-centric 21st Century Army. Which is kind of amusing, since I haven't seen pixels that big since Pac-Man circa 1983.
Misc. thought—what's with the color of the Velcro on the sleeves of the uniform? Every uniform set seems to have a different color, including dark green, olive drab, silver and black.
Addendum: Thanks to Gulliver at Ink Spots for the link to previous posts on the UCP. (Yes, we are war nerds)