Ouch. The U.S. Army spent $5 billion on a camouflage pattern that "universally failed in every environment," says an Army specialist in The Daily. Years ago the Army set out to design new field uniforms that would keep troops hidden in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. Only problem? The new camo isn't very good at doing its job: It actually made the troops stand out.
Way to let down the troops! But don't blame the designers. Army textile technologist Cheryl Stewardson says, "It got into political hands before the soldiers ever got the uniforms." In other words, top Army brass let politics and looks get in the way of the final selections process.
Politics and pixel envy, to be more specific. Apparently Army brass wanted to be cool just like the Marines.
Here's what happened (the shorter version): Researchers spent two years to find the perfect tan brushstroke pattern color, which they called Desert Brush.
Meanwhile the Army brass had apparently seen the groovy new pixelated pattern used for Marine uniforms and wanted to copy the cool look. Through a branch called "Program Executive Office Soldier," they ordered their own version of pixel camo called Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) -- way before the Army camo researchers had finished their work.
And here we are now with their $5 billion mistake, soldiers still dangerously exposed in this UCP. Soldiers have been wearing this pattern for eight years. Did I mention that the Marine baseline color was picked out by actual Marines? They went to Home Depot and looked at paint chips. Maybe Army brigadier general James Moran should have asked for the opinions of Army soldiers -- you know, the people who actually use the camo!
Have your friends and family in the Army been frustrated with the UCP?
Image via IowaRedBulls/Flickr