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Airmen will receive MultiCam, eventually

Sep. 11, 2010 - 02:09PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 11, 2010 - 02:09PM  |  
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Iowa guardsmen are issued MultiCam uniforms on Aug. 10 at Camp Shelby, Miss. They were the first soldiers to receive the new pattern. Air Force officials say airmen who go outside the wire in Afghanistan will receive MultiCam uniforms — eventually.
Iowa guardsmen are issued MultiCam uniforms on Aug. 10 at Camp Shelby, Miss. They were the first soldiers to receive the new pattern. Air Force officials say airmen who go outside the wire in Afghanistan will receive MultiCam uniforms — eventually. (Ryan Moore / Hattiesburg (Miss.) American)
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Out: digital tiger stripe. In: MultiCam. The Air Force is adopting the Army's camouflage pattern for its airman battle system-ground uniform, the fire-resistant clothing it gives to airmen in Afghanistan who work outside the wire.

Service officials announced the change Aug. 24, http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/08/army-shelby-troops-receive-new-multicam-082210w/">two weeks after the Army began handing out its new uniform.

Troops headed to Iraq will not get MultiCam.

"Based on feedback from airmen, we believe the [MultiCam] pattern provides advanced protection to service members while operating outside the wire in Afghanistan," the Air Force said in a statement after Air Force Times inquired about a potential change.

The official name for the pattern is the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern, or OCP. The Army tested 57 patterns in Afghanistan and concluded MultiCam offered the best concealment.

Only airmen with jobs that take them off base, such as security forces and provincial reconstruction team members, will get the new ABS-G. Everyone else will still wear the digital tiger stripe airman battle uniform, first issued in 2006.

The big unknown: When airmen will get the MultiCam ABS-G and its final design.

"The Army, while beginning an aggressive fielding schedule, is working with the Air Force to support developing a long-term joint fielding strategy later this year," the statement said.

The ABS-G and the Army Combat Uniform share many features, such as a wicking knit combat shirt and fire-resistant fabric, but have different pocket designs, collars and closures — the ABS-G uses buttons, the ACU has zippers and Velcro.

Some airmen — combat controllers, for example, and pararescuemen, or PJs — already wear a MultiCam-pattern uniform so that they blend in with the special operations teams they work with. Special operations commanders decided a while ago that MultiCam provides better protection than either the Air Force or Army digital camouflage patterns.

The airmen had to pick up their ACUs from civilian stories.

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