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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beyond Patterns for U.S. Army Camouflage Improvement

With the current improvement effort, the US Army is seeking out three camouflage patterns for arid, woodland, and transitional environment as well as an option for OCIE/PPE. However, each of these types of terrain can vary from one part of the globe to the next. Certainly the vegetation of the Amazon Rainforest varies from those of Southeast Asia, just as the deserts of the Sahara can have drastically different surroundings in which to conceal a soldier than the Mohave. Of course what falls in-between provides a vast array of transitional environments in which to adapt an established camouflage pattern and pretty poppy fields tend to only grow in certain combat zones.

Photo by US Army SPC Arguello
One could find some shortcomings in the Army's approach to fielding effective camouflage in the past and there certainly hasn't been a lacking on pointing it out. With the latest camouflage improvement effort in the works, it appears that strides are being taken to correct that issue, but they are not stopping there in covering the bases for possible concealment systems to utilize around the globe. This goes beyond the essential ghillie suit for quicker solutions and appears more sophisticated than the simple just roll in the dirt technique. 

Photo by US Army Staff SGT. Steffen
Natick has put forth a Request for Information seeking out on the spot field solutions for soldier camouflage that will allow for the best concealment no matter what the terrain or vegetation may be. The solution cannot disrupt the ability for protection in the NIR spectrum or reduce the effectiveness of the inherent properties of the existing uniform including flame resistance. Most importantly, it must be easily donned and doffed for quick utilization. 

Some of the possible solutions listed include coatings, sprays, applique, textile, or predator camouflage. While the latter may have not been listed specifically, it can certainly fall in their other category, and clearly they are willing to listen to all options. Of course with the different options making headlines such as Quantum Stealth, this is not too far fetched, but may negate the necessity for three environmental variants altogether if played out to full capability.

Photo by US Army SGT Mclean
What is promising is that they are sticking to the future of three camouflage patterns and simply building on that concealment platform based on any potential AO when a conflict presents itself. It is of course noted that this is simply an RFI, where it all begins and is in place for a possible building block to any potential solicitation. View the full details of the request at: FBO.gov