Army deploying soldiers with new combat camouflage to Afghanistan

Soldiers headed to Afghanistan will wear new camouflage combat uniforms, the Army announced Friday.
 
The late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) spurred the changes in combat camouflage after he talked to Army sergeants who told him the Army’s combat uniform pattern was ineffective. Murtha and his committee issued a mandate for the change as part of the 2009 supplemental appropriations act.
 

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The lawmakers directed the Pentagon to “take immediate action to provide combat uniforms to personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.”
 
Army Secretary John McHugh announced Friday that soldiers will start deploying with the new uniforms this summer. The new uniforms will have the so-called MultiCam pattern. Crye Precision, a company based in Brooklyn New York, came up with the MultiCam pattern.
 
The Army has been testing the pattern since last fall. The pattern is designed to work well across a very broad range of environmental conditions when observed in both the visual and night vision spectrums, according to company literature.
 
The pattern is designed to reflect some of the surrounding colors of the environment. The design also takes advantage of the way the human eye and brain perceives shape, volume, and color. It relies more on a blending effect than a contrast effect to disguise the wearer. This effect allows it to perform in a wide range of environments, and keeps the pattern effective even at close distances where pixelated or blocky patterns often stand out against natural environments, according to the company, which has a web site dedicated to the MultiCam pattern.
 
The Army deployed a team of experts to Afghanistan in October to gather extensive data and photos on the diverse environments of Afghanistan, where soldiers often travel through multiple environments in a single mission, from snow to woodland to desert, according to an Army statement released Friday.
 
The Army incorporated the information gathered into a photo simulation study and asked about 750 soldiers sent to Afghanistan to compare six patterns against eight different environments. The results informed the Army's decision to pick MultiCam.