New Pattern for Soldier’s Uniforms in Afghanistan

February 22, 2010 Updated: February 22, 2010

Soldiers sent to fight in Afghanistan this summer will get a wardrobe update. The Army combat uniform is trading the standard-issue universal camouflage print for the new "MultiCam" pattern.

When Army sergeants explained that the standard camouflage pattern was ineffective at protecting soldiers in Afghanistan, the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) last June instructed the Army to find a replacement.

According to Army Secretary John McHugh, the new MultiCam print was chosen from among various patterns in a rigorous four-month evaluation aimed at what could best protect soldiers.

While the print has been updated, the new uniforms will still be made of the same fireproof material combat soldiers currently wear. Army officials say the change allows commanders in Afghanistan to have more options in deciding how best to equip their soldiers.

"As a material provider, I want to be responsive to the soldiers I support," said Col. William E. Cole, project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment in a statement. "I want to give commanders options. I want to be responsive to soldiers. That is what we were trying to do—we're working to give [them] more options."

The Army decided to go with the MultiCam pattern after evaluating the print's effectiveness at providing camouflage protection in Iraq. Although there were several contenders for the new uniform print, a two-year Army study had revealed that MultiCam—a pattern made by Crye Precision LLC—outperformed the standard issue camouflage in woodland, desert and urban settings, according to an Army Times report.

MultiCam is a single camouflage pattern designed to conceal whoever is wearing it in a variety of environments, seasons, elevations, and light conditions, according to Crye Precision LLC. It is designed to work well in both the visual and near infrared (night vision) spectrums.

The Army’s study for the best new camouflage pattern also incorporated feedback from 750 soldiers who had participated in a photo simulation involving various prints, and other soldiers who had already worn the uniform in Afghanistan.

About 2,000 soldiers were involved in tests to see how effective patterns such as MultiCam and UCP-Delta were at providing concealment in the varying terrain of Afghanistan.

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