US Army's Pixellated Camo Uniform Is a $5 Billion Failure

Illustration for article titled US Army's Pixellated Camo Uniform Is a $5 Billion Failure

Whereas pixillation is usually very successful at obscuring images otherwise unfit to be seen, the US Army is $5billion in the hole, with its pixellated camo uniform (introduced in 2004) being dubbed a colossal mistake.

The Daily reports that soldiers have "roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it's been worn."

"Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment," an Army specialist who served two tours in Iraq told The Daily.


Now, Army researchers and textile technologists are working feverishly to design a new, less conspicuous camo pattern.

The goal is to give soldiers different patterns suitable for different environments, plus a single neutral pattern - matching the whole family - to be used on more expensive body armor and other gear. The selection will involve hundreds of computer trials as well on-the-ground testing at half a dozen locations around the world.

It's incredible that the government could spend $5billion on a failing design... and absurd that they'd stick with this long. The Daily reports that the pixel pattern—known as Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCF—originated with the US Marines, who called it MARPAT.

The Marines even found one of the baseline colors themselves, an earth tone now called Coyote Brown.

"They went to Home Depot, looked at paint swatches, and said, ‘We want that color,' " said Anabelle Dugas, a textile technologist at Natick who helped develop the pattern. That particular hue, she added, was part of a paint series then sold by Ralph Lauren.


The Army at the time was low on matching pieces—making due with forest green vests over their desert-specific gear, essentially walking targets—and MARPAT was considered a trendy new cut, so the Army, with what The Daily calls "a case of pixilated camouflage envy," decided it would sport the fancy new gear, too.

An epic mistake that cost billions of dollars and, ostensibly, many lives.

Until a new pattern is settled upon and issued—which may be as much as a year away—soldiers in Afghanistan will wear "a greenish, blended replacement called MultiCam." [TheDaily - Image via Getty Images]


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Why not make one uniform for ALL the services? Does the Army and Marine Corps really need to pay designers, uniform selection boards, etc. etc. to make different uniforms from each other?

The only reason the AF and Navy would need the camo would be if they were caught on the ground and had a need to hide or conceal themselves from enemy forces.

Does the Navy REALLY need all those uniforms?? Summer Dress, Winter Dress, CrackerJacks, Denims, Camos? I think one time I heard it was around 13 different uniforms. Then Officers and Senior NCO's added in Khaki's as well.

I rarely wore my dress uniform during 20 years of service because it was total crap. You were afraid to do any actual work as you'd ruin them in no time. BUD"s and Cammies were much better for my role. Get rid of all the dress uniforms, save billions of dollars there... (Including laundry services paid for by the members themselves)

One nation, one military, one uniform. You can still have the different branches but, distinguish them in some other way than to waste money on different uniforms.