Sunday, May 25, 2014

Army Picks New Camouflage: Scorpion (Update; Rangers Lead The Way)

The French have a phrase for it: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, or "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

That would seem to be the case in the recent "soft launch" of the US Army transition to a new (well, sort of) camouflage pattern – Scorpion.  This will finally replace the blithering choice of the Army Universal Camouflage Pattern back in 2004 which has been universally condemned as pathetically ineffective.

A rarely-accessible photo of a soldier kitted up in an earlier version of Scorpion (SoldierSystems.net)

The 'stay the same' aspect comes into play because Scorpion was an earlier concept developed by Crye Associates leading to the popular MultiCam design, which the bureaucrats, being bureaucrats, refer to as Operation Enduring Freedom [Afghanistan] Camouflage Pattern, or OCP.  At first glance, the two designs appear practically identical when seen in isolation, somewhat less so side by side.  It becomes more confusing because the old Scorpion design was rejected during the first phases of the project back in 2004.

The updated Scorpion design tends to use some of the base colors (there are seven to choose from) as more predominant, particularly the Coyote variations, a type of brown initially chosen by the Marines in their development of their MARPAT design while doing research in the Ralph Lauren collection at a local Home Depot.  There are also some vertical elements of the MultiCam design that are eliminated in Scorpion.

No official announcement has been made, only communications through the Command Sergeant Major channels.  Perhaps by the usual date of the Army birthday, 14 June?

Faithful readers know that the Army was originally due to make an announcement last year on that date but was forestalled by the Enyart-Duckworth amendment to the NDAA, which requires an eventual common uniform pattern for all of the Defense Department, in a cost-saving measure that is to overcome the current ensemble of ten different camouflage uniforms available to the four services of DoD.  Close examination of the language (§351) provides some cover for the Army because this can be considered 'transitional'.  Note that the new Scorpion, being so similar, will still be called OCP.

What few photos that are available tend to be proprietary, but the HyperStealth site provides some excellent detail.

What appears to be the winning factor, a good effort at tweaking the original in the intervening decade, is the function of the uniform in the various spectra of infra-red, and the link above provides good evidence of that.  For those of you who work at night, you should be attired accordingly.

The dates for planning are still minimal and are simply soft estimates awaiting some official fine tuning, but a hypothesis is that, considering a start-up at the current square zero, initial issue of MultiCam (already in the system but production lines need to be re-started) service-wide should begin in FY 2016.  Scorpion can begin to show up by May 2015.

Some have noticed that the current deployment of a battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Poland and the Baltics had the soldiers wearing MultiCam.  This is the first time that MultiCam has been authorised for use outside of the Afghanistan theater.

Complications to overcome include the fact that there are different versions of MultiCam, such as field ready and garrison, and variations in quality (and expense) down range.  Fleshing out the Army with stop-gap MultiCam while bringing in the replacement Scorpion will probably take something like eight years.

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Update:  Military Times provides some amplifying information about the Scorpion W2, including a small swatch of the material.  Sources speculate that the name could change in the near future.


The pattern displayed cuts back on the biege and brown colors to result in a type that falls in between a woodland and desert environment, likely applicable to future output of web gear as well as garrison and field uniforms.  Deploying troops could be issued variations on the coloration to adapt to jungle, woodland, desert or mountain terrain.

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Update:  A more recent example of the pattern now rendered in a uniform, as published on Military.com:



Update:  The Army announced that as of the 30th birthday of the 75th Ranger Regiment (3 October), the Rangers will wear the new design full time, and do away with the previous UCP pattern altogether.  A close contact that I have within the regiment said that the Scorpion W2 pattern is officially authorized, but since none of it is available, the MultiCam (OCP) pattern will be used until such time as the Scorpion becomes available.  Any photos, he says, will be taken at such a distance that no one will be able to tell the difference, which shouldn't be much of a problem.

Another example of "Rangers Lead The Way."

4 comments:

  1. Though I agree that the Army ACUs were an abysmal pattern failure [comfortable however], I really with the services would stop playing camouflage roulette. These sorts of acquisition games led to the blue water Navy switching to blue water hued fatigues. Can't wait until a Sailor goes over the side, to see how well that works out. /Sarc

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    Replies
    1. True, the design is more than adequate, and will be retained to a large degree, with enhancements, in the future. It's the ludicrous UCP camo pattern and sheer quality (or lack thereof) of the fabric that finally drove the brass to admit that the whole idea was a monumental screw-up. I have several articles that detail the story - just search for 'camouflage' in the upper left.

      Delete
  2. Hey, all those generals have to have something to do to look busy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No amount of camouflage can cover that up.

      Delete

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