Currently the different branches of the military have their own designs and sets of combat camouflage uniforms. The Army has different combat camouflage uniforms from the Navy and the Navy’s are different from the Marines and so on. A committee in Congress recently voted to do away with this process so all branches have all the same combat camouflage uniforms. There can be different kinds of these uniforms but all branches will use universal sets.
Congressional committee voted Wednesday to end service-specific camouflage in an amendment that would push the military toward creating joint combat uniforms by 2018.
Committee members expressed frustration over the millions of dollars the services have spent to field camouflage patterns that focus more on creating a visual brand than effective concealment for the battlefield.
This is not the first time the Pentagon has been criticized over its management of camouflage development.
The Government Accountability Office blasted the U.S. military in September for the way it has developed camouflage uniforms over the past decade. Since 2012, military service leaders have introduced seven new patterns — two desert, two woodland and three universal — in a “fragmented approach” that GAO officials argue should be avoided in the future.
House Armed Service Committee members want the Pentagon to develop a joint combat uniform over the next five years. Moving to one joint combat uniform doesn’t mean there would only be one camouflage pattern. Different patterns could still be designed for specific geographic requirements such as the woodland or desert patterns. However, each service would not design their versions.
The amendment restricts the creation of any further camouflage patterns for combat uniforms unless the intention is to share it. Approval of the amendment comes as the Army is set to announce a replacement to its Universal Camouflage Pattern, a pixilated mix of gray, green and tan that has proven ineffective in tests and on the battlefield.
It’s unclear how this amendment, if approved by the Senate, would affect the Army’s selection of a new camouflage pattern. The Army recently concluded an extensive, four-year camouflage improvement effort.
Army uniform officials launched the effort after Pennsylvania’s Democratic Rep. John Murtha, got involved in the issue in 2009. Murtha was then chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
He pushed the service to look for a better camouflage pattern after receiving complaints from sergeants about the UCP’s poor performance in the war zone. Murtha died in 2010, just before the Army selected MultiCam as the clear winner over several other patterns to issue to soldiers deploying to Afghanistan.