By Debbie Gregory.
Beginning in April, the U.S. Army is expected to be conducting a wear-test campaign of new Army Combat Uniforms (ACU). Multiple new uniforms will be worn and reviewed by the wearers and Army leadership to determine if the function, durability and style of the uniforms is suitable for replacing the current ACU.
The current ACU utilizes a Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). The UCP was designed for its versatile effectiveness in woodland, desert and urban settings, using mixtures of gray, green and tan. The ACU has been the most widely used ACU in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Among the new uniforms being tested is a MultiCam inspired digital camouflage pattern. According to MultiCam’s website, their patterns: “were developed to provide maximum effectiveness across diverse operating environments with a minimum logistical burden.” The Army brass acknowledges that several patterns will be wear-tested.
The Army has more to consider with the uniforms than merely looks and function. As part of the FY 2014 Defense Authorization Act, Congress included a stipulation that directed the DOD to create and implement a common combat uniform to be worn by all branches and all members of the U.S. armed forces. The order has Army leadership looking at the uniforms of the other branches as well.
The Marine Corps’ digital pattern has received high honors for its form and function. However, USMC leadership has expressed their reluctance to share their Marine Pattern Uniform (MARPAT) with other branches. The Navy uses patterns that are similar to MARPAT for their woodland and desert camo uniforms. But when you see the Marine and Navy uniforms together, they are very distinctly separate patterns. However, it is more than likely that the Army will keep their own distinctive pattern based on the MultiCam system. The Army has been shopping for new desert, woodland and transitional pattern uniforms since 2010.
The wear testing of the new uniforms will last from through September, 2014. Locations included in the wear test are Fort Benning, GA; Fort Polk, LA; Fort Shafter, HI; and Yuma Proving Ground, AZ.