By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Feb. 20, 2010) -- Starting this summer, Soldiers sent to fight in Afghanistan will wear an Army Combat Uniform with the "MultiCam" pattern instead of the standard-issue universal camouflage pattern.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh made that announcement Feb. 19, after the service conducted a rigorous four-month evaluation of various uniform patterns to determine what could best protect Soldiers in Afghanistan.
The new uniforms are of the same material and cut that Soldiers are already wearing in the Army Combat Uniform or ACU. It is the camouflage printed on the fabric that will be different. The change allows commanders in Afghanistan to have more options in deciding how best to equip their Soldiers.
"As a material provider, I want to be responsive to the Soldiers I support," said Col. William E. Cole, project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment. "I want to give commanders options, I want to be responsive to Soldiers. That is what we were trying to do -- we're working to give (them) more options."
The uniforms bearing the new pattern, like the latest ACUs, are fire resistant. They are officially called the Fire Resistant Army Combat Uniform.
The decision to use the MultiCam pattern came after the Army evaluated its effectiveness at providing camouflage protection in Iraq. That was done, in part, by consulting with nearly 750 Soldiers who had deployed to Afghanistan. Those Soldiers participated in a "photo simulation" study administered by the Army.
Additionally, feedback from Soldiers who have already worn the uniform in Afghanistan was used to make the final decision. About 2,000 Soldiers were involved in tests to see how effective patterns such as MultiCam and UCP-Delta were at providing concealment in the varying terrain of Afghanistan.