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May 14, 2013

What’s Been ‘Camouflaged’ About Camouflaged Uniforms?

After four long years, the Army is soon to announce its next camo pattern. It’ll likely look like a bigger version of MARPAT, but the decision is being closely guarded. Soldier Systems Daily (SSD) is doing an excellent job keeping up on that issue, but before the decision comes out and the screaming starts, I wanted to discuss some camo issues that have been ‘camouflaged’ over the last decade.

Camouflage?  ACUs, MARPAT, MultiCam, ABUs, NWU (Aquaflage), AOR 1 & 2…  (Sigh) Reams have been written. Enough epithets have been thrown out there for the spit to fill a virtual lake. HOW did we get from two pretty effective patterns to eight? Where are we? Who messed up and where? How can we ensure we don’t do this again? I’ll likely write a dozen pages someday, if for no other reason than a case study for how not to do things. In the meantime, let’s look at this decades-old controversy in a new way.

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About the Author

served over 20 years as an Infantry officer in Europe, the Middle East, Korea and Latin America. He has extensive experience in both light Infantry and mechanized warfare to include combat. He was selected to serve as a TAC at West Point and his final assignment was to the Infantry’s Battle Lab conducting research on tomorrow’s Infantry force. He concentrated in National Security at West Point, holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling & Leadership Development and is a graduate of the Combined Arms General Staff College. Born and raised in a tough section of New York City, Will lost his accent in the Army but kept the attitude. Read more from Will at

To comment on this article please join/login. Here's a sample of the comments on this post.

  • bodat the wobbler

    personally it reminds me of some sort of brand recognition thing.........which imo is silly. whatever happened to the days when every branch had the same pattern.....just diffrent hats. it would have to be more cost effective.

  • TKW406

    majrod ArcticWarrior wannabearmyteen   You guys need to check out this video regarding optical cloaking of large objects.  It's amazing.

  • sgtmed

    Maj. Rodriguez, Just saw this article...

  • YankeePapa

    ...The Marine Corps has its reasons for wanting its own combat pattern.  As a Marine infantryman (0311... 1968-70)  I understand the history of this (going back to WWI) and agree completely with the Corps in all regards... except one.  If indeed MARPAT is the *best* pattern out there and helps saves lives... then the Corps needs to share.  If, in 1917 they had developed the B.A.R. (a wonderful invention) it would have been wrong to have "hogged" it when the Army taking heavy casualties in the trenches.  ...During the Rhodesian Bush War (1966-80) a camo pattern was developed that was one of the best ever (for a specific region...)  All services... the BSAP, the Rhodesian Army, and the Rhodesian Air Force all used the same pattern.  Issues of service rivalry existed (though not well publicized) but the pattern was truly superior and for reasons of safety and economy all were issued with uniforms of the same camo pattern.  (Variations existed, such as the BSAP having a cap with so-called "bullet holders" on the front...) ...The Marine Corps deserves praise for developing a superior pattern at a (relatively) low cost.  But this should not be an issue of service rivalry.  If they have the *best* for staying alive in the field... then all at the "sharp end" need to have it. YP

  • KangarooCargo

    The Marines licensed their pattern off of the Canadian Digital Pattern.