June 26, 2012

Military Camo “Wars”, A Broken Acquistion System and Billions Down The Drain

You don’t have to look very far these days to realize that the inter-service “Camo Wars” has been a disaster and ultimately produced some terrible looking (and more importantly, poor performing) camouflage uniforms.

A few guys at Crye Precision kicked the shit out of Natick Labs with their Multicam pattern. It took Natick and the DOD years and billions spent to finally see the light and let Multicam in the door and now it’s pervasive on the battlefield for a reason. Why? Because it fucking works, and it’s the best camouflage in the field and inventory.

The US Marines developed a kick ass “Digi” pattern, the SEALs have AOR (Area of Responsibility) and the rest are left with no chair and the camo music turned off.

A uniform should be functional first, and just as important, it should look sharp, and make people feel good about wearing it. Making people look sharp in uniform matters at so many levels and is one thing the USMC continues to do right.  They have the sharpest uniforms out of any branch of service in my opinion.

A look at some of the worst and best camouflage patterns developed by the broken DOD acquisition system (another topic coming soon) and Crye:

1. The Navy’s “Aquaflage” pattern. I don’t know of one person I’ve asked who likes this silly uniform.  Apparently it makes you vanish if you fall overboard, not a good quality if you ask me.

Navy-aquaflage-sofrep

2. The US Army’s failed attempt to hurry up and copy the USMC’s MARPAT pattern.  This one apparently cost U.S. tax payers $5 Billion and is being re-called in favor of a better solution.

Army_Combat_Uniform_sofrep

3. US Air Force’s Airman Battle Uniform or better known as “ABU”. Not sure how they got away with calling it “Airman and not Airperson” with all the bullshit around PC these days.  Anyway, it’s the USAF version of Hawaiian Camo at its finest.

Airforce-camo-hawaiian-sofrep

4. The Crye Developed “Multicam” pattern.  I estimate that this was developed for under $500k and it is one of the best camouflage patterns this Century has seen. There’s a reason combat units from all branches (including Special Operations) use it on deployment—it fucking works.

multicam_sofrep

This is clearly another example of  the need for military acquisition reform.  We need a lean and competitive system free from bureaucracy that doesn’t give us yesterday’s solutions tomorrow.  Trillions are wasted in the “good ole boy” system where the Federal Acquisition Rules (FAR) is complicated and the only winners are Washington Bureaucrats and the Big Defense companies that line their pockets with campaign donations.

You can read more and my thoughts on this debacle on the Blaze’s report on the “Huge Let Down”, and the Daily’s original article that quotes my friend Eric’s thoughts (founder of Soldier Systems).

What do you guys think?

 

About the Author

is a former U.S. Navy SEAL with combat deployments to Afghanistan, and Iraq. During his last tour he served as the west coast sniper Course Manager at the Naval Special Warfare Center. He is Editor-in-Chief of SpecialOperations.com, a SOFREP contributing editor, and a New York Times best selling author (The Red Circle & Benghazi: The Definitive Report). Follow him on twitter here.

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  • bodat the wobbler

    i have often wondered what was wrong with good ol' tryed and true "m81" woodland? thats some good camo.........not as versatile as multicam but......

  • 556andbaconstrips

    Never should have switched from bdu's!!! Should have made them roomier in the crotch, given them a sewn in belt. Leg and arms pockets, Velcro knee pads like crye precision and been done with it. Too many bad decisions and too much money wasted on this. This was as dumb as giving the entire army the black beret.

  • SEAL76

    Why not do what the SELOUS SCOUTS did. Wear what the bad guys wear if you are SPECOPS. Of course there is the risk of being taken for the enemy so some type of identifier perhaps electronic could be used.

  • ArkTango

    Great article. Would be nice to see an article on what SOF uses if it hasnt been done already. Of course that's pending OPSEC consideration. Would be interesting to see what they use in different environments, ie Iraq vs Afghan vs Libya vs w/e.

  • SEAL76

    Jwest Thanks for the input. I like your comments.