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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pixelated Camouflage Here to Stay

With all this talk of the US Army's UCP Camouflage being a huge failure, you would assume this was some huge revelation. In the scheme of things it is very old news as we have recently pointed out. Must be a slow news week as many bloggers and "news" sites are pumping out articles to continually bash  the misbegotten pattern. Luckily guys over at Soldier Systems and HyperStealth are calling them out on it and getting some facts to see the light of day. 

Most people misuse different monikers placed on camouflage designs and frankly don't really understand the different elements to the development in itself, which could include many layers as well as dithering techniques, which hardly lends to the preconceived notion of "square patterns". Digital is one that is widely placed on patterns with square elements, though MultiCam, A-TACS, and most modern patterns are digital due to the use of computers for their development. Pixelated is another one that is narrowly focused when a pixel is just the smallest recognizable unit on a screen. Google doesn't even seem to think it is a word since it says we are mis-spelling it. 

US Marine and Canadian Soldier at Urban Terrain Exercise
Photo by USMC Cpl. Main
Perhaps it is all just semantics, but it can get confusing for many when generalizations are used to lump things together. Then again, a word becomes a word from repetitive application. In the scheme of things you can simply look to the photo above and see that there are effective patterns in used today that are easily "recognized" as both digital and pixelated.

During the UCP heyday, many nations adopted patterns similar to those that all originated with Canada's CADPAT. Many countries saw the error in the ways of the palette used for the "Universal" pattern or were lucky to not jump on the train. While some nations followed along the same lines of the MARPAT/CADPAT palette with a similar pattern and remain with the selection to this day. You will also find those that outright used UCP or some variant, while later switching to MultiCam. Obviously many find this to be the simply means to an end, but we are still awaiting some official results to the Army Camouflage Improvement Effort before making any concrete announcements or assumptions.



Chilean Army Engineers Visit with US Counterparts
Romania was an interesting though not isolated case in which they liked the Vegetato pattern of Italy, but wanted a similar colorway to UCP. Whenever there is a demand, you will find a company to fill it. Romania received a response to their request which resulted in patterns like Roggenwolf Dacia™. This effort eventually went under due to other factors and the Romanian defense force remains with a variation of the British DPM camouflage. Similar developments took place that never saw the light of day or ended with patterns that prove inneffective

In today's increasingly global framework of coalition forces working together and deciding what is most effective for their defense forces, it is not to hard to see why there will be plenty of overlap when it comes to camouflage selection. Such is the case with MultiCam, which has seen widespread acceptance by different forces around the globe. Many are crafty enough to just blatantly copy its pattern or colorway and use it as their own with no remuneration to Crye Precision whom designed the camouflage, while the UK and Australia are honest enough to want their own pattern and pay for its production. 

US Marine Instructs Use of  M203 Grenade Launcher to Romanian Soldier 
Countries are going to use what is effective for their troops and if they find something that works, there is no incentive to change it. Guy Cramer understands this and has designed many digital pixelated patterns for many nations including our own with the adoption of the USMC Overwhite Camo. You can also see his designs on the defense forces of Afghanistan with three distinct patterns including one integrating a MultiCam colorway nonetheless. 

Guy Cramer has written up his own interesting and revealing retort to some of the media failings in reporting on the Army's camouflage developments which we suggest you check out at HyperStealth.com. While he presents a great defense for pixelated patterns to remain in use by the military, he also has plenty of options available that don't follow the traditional square concept of a pixel. In the end it all comes down to effectiveness. The proof is in the pudding and if a camouflage pattern is going to provide concealment, then who cares what you call it.