New Army Camouflage Lets Soldiers Hide in Plain Sight
CREDIT: PEO Soldier
U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan will start receiving new camouflage outfits later this summer, replacing their current Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) with new combat uniforms that will blend in with their environment better and make them harder to see. The new “camo” gear, called Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP), is 21 percent less detectable than its UCP predecessor.
Camouflage works by tricking the eye and brain and how they recognize color, volume and shape. Because only a small area of the eye perceives color, the brain does a lot of filling in as it processes images. OCP, also known as MultiCam, takes advantage of this, according to the manufacturer, Crye Precision, by helping an observer see the pattern as part of the background.
If you’re wearing MultiCam, the company says, your profile begins to lose its edge and fade into whatever colors or shapes surround you. An observer may “see” you, but not recognize you as a person.
The new camo pattern, a blend of seven shades of brown, tan and green, is designed to reflect colors in the surrounding environment. Because it adapts to ambient light, it blends in well with a wide variety of settings, elevations and weather conditions throughout the day. This adaptability is the key to its use across Afghanistanâs multiple regions . Soldiers can go from desert conditions to wooded areas, villages and mountainous environments on a single patrol.
“The Army selected Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern because soldiers voiced a concern and that concern was whether or not they were being concealed with the Universal Camouflage pattern,” said Command Sergeant Major Bernard C. McPherson of the Arm’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Solider. PEO Soldier is the Army acquisition agency responsible for developing, procuring, and distributing nearly everything soldiers wear or carry.
The new camo pattern was selected after extensive research and field testing. “We decided to look at the science,” said McPherson. “We sent a team of 13 to conduct a photo-simulation study.” The photo-simulation included photographs taken in desert, woodland, cropland and mountain terrain settings. The test showed that MultiCam clearly outperformed the existing UCP in providing concealment.
MultiCam was also tested separately by the Army Special Operations Command in different environments worldwide, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army’s MultiCam combat uniforms are constructed of fire-resistant fabric that has been treated with the insecticide permethrin. The new uniforms, which include reinforced seats, a new crotch design and buttons on the trouser cargo pockets, also address concern about durability in the field. “Field tests demonstrated the durability of the new uniforms,” McPherson told TechNewsDaily. “The two battalions that we tested this pattern on were very, very excited.”
The new gear is authorized for wear only in Afghanistan and travel and from there.