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After 22 patterns and 45 terrains, Army testing may have to start over

Jun. 10, 2013 - 08:10AM   |  
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What does the push for a single camo patternmean for the Army, which has worked for more than two years to develop a new camouflage pattern?

What does the push for a single camo patternmean for the Army, which has worked for more than two years to develop a new camouflage pattern?

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What does the push for a single camo patternmean for the Army, which has worked for more than two years to develop a new camouflage pattern?

If the legislation fails, it means nothing. If it passes, it means the Army goes back to the drawing board. The analysis of the past two years would be of considerable worth in developing a new pattern, said Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. But the insight and understanding gained by sister services must also enter the mix.

The Army could save $82 million if it partnered with another service for developing and buying a new uniform, according to last year’s report from the Government Accountability Office. It says the services have wasted billions of dollars and put troops’ lives at risk in a vain effort to create unique combat uniforms for their services. A failure to share methodology, insight and experience, and a drive to have a unique appearance, trumped combat effectiveness — even in the midst of two wars.

The report also identified the digital Marine Pattern, or MARPAT, as the best and most effective combat uniform among what has become a surprisingly vast array of colors and patterns.

Whether the Army’s winning pattern resembles or beats MARPAT is known by few, and they are keeping quiet.

Army Times asked Program Executive Office Soldier to give a final summary of the tests. PEO avoided the request by saying the command does not discuss pending legislation.

Here’s what they’re not telling you: Twenty-two patterns were tested from June 2010 through September 2011. Part of that evaluation included a calibrated computer program that allowed 900 soldiers to rate how well all existing camouflage patterns blended in 45 terrains.

Four industry competitors were identified as finalists. They are ADS Inc., of Virginia Beach, Va., teamed with the Canadian firm HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp.; Brookwood Companies Inc., of New York City; Crye Precision LLCB, also of New York City; and Kryptek Inc., of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Fifty uniforms for each camouflage pattern were put through extensive field trials last summer. The trials placed each variant in practically every global environment and terrain, included two major field exercises and relied heavily on feedback from soldiers who measured the time and distance required to identify patterns in a multitude of settings.

The tests provided information from more than 200,000 data points. The goal was to determine which pattern provides the best concealment through a woodland variant, a desert variant and a transitional variant that covers everything in between.

The service in 2011 said it expected to spend as much as $10 million on the tests.

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