By Caitlin Dickson
The Daily Beast
In 2004, the Army decided to scrap the two traditional camouflage uniforms that had long been used by the military—one meant for woodland environments, another for the desert—and claimed to have come up with a universal pattern that could be worn anywhere and blend in with any environment. The $5 billion dollar experiment with the universal pattern is over as the Army is phasing out the uniform after less than a decade of use. But many soldiers and observers are wondering why it took this long and cost this much to replace an item that performed poorly from the start during a period when the money could have been spent on other critical needs, like potentially life saving improvements to military vehicles and body armor.
Less than a decade after the so-called Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, was introduced the Army is back to the drawing board, set to announce a new camouflage pattern and standard uniform to be worn by the more than million members of the active duty and reserve forces.
Evidence of the UCPs inadequacy as a combat uniform is easy to find—just look at pictures of soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan, they’re not wearing the UCP, which was deemed unsuitable for operations there, but a different uniform known as the MultiCam. In 2009,Congress responded to soldiers’ “concerns about the current combat uniform which they indicated provides ineffective camouflage given the environment in Afghanistan,” by passing a bill in the appropriations act requiring that the DOD “take immediate action to provide combat uniforms to personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.” The result was the MultiCam. But that uniform, while it is currently worn in Afghanistan, was not a replacement but an interim substitution for the UCP, which is still the Army’s official uniform and the one worn by all soldiers not overseas.