The US Army will roll out a new, yet familiar, camouflage pattern for its servicemen and -women on July 1st. The new design, the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), replaces the decade-old Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP).
Latest ACU camouflage not without controversy
The change comes after prolonged controversy over the Universal Camouflage Pattern. Critics long complained that UCP, notable for its pixelated and blackless design, appeared too unnatural to be effective and may well have made its wearers highly exposed in daytime. Although foreign services and other branches of the armed forces adopted pixelated camouflage, the US Army remains the key adopter of the UCP design.
The ACU, alternately known as the “Scorpion W2,” abandons the pixelated design of the past decade in favor of the blotchy design that came into service in the 1980s and ’90s. The ACU is based on Crye Precision’s MultiCam pattern already in use among Australian, British, and some American units.
Despite criticism of the UCP, the adoption of the ACU is generating backlash because the US Army invested five years and a purported fortune to develop a new pattern, only to revert back to a modified version of an existing one. The blogosphere abounds with hostile speculation about that decision, with some channels viewing the modification as the US Army’s way of avoiding Crye Precision’s licensing fees.
Recall that the US Defense Department suffered from an instant reduction in funding back in spring 2013. Combined with other cuts in defense, the budgetary sequestration postponed or eliminated multiple programs that aimed to replace military hardware. If the skeptics are to be believed, that came to a head with the new army pattern. And this wouldn’t be the US Army’s only set back, as efforts to replace the aging M4 carbine have met repeated setbacks and cancellations.
Nevertheless, the consensus among commentators appears to be that the ACU is a step in the right direction. If only they could bring in the SCAR…