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New uniform for OEF protects Soldiers, hides them better

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 12, 2010) -- Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan will now go with a new uniform in their mobility bag -- one that fights fire and fleas, and makes them less visible to insurgents.

The next generation of uniform for Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom bears the new "OEF camouflage pattern" -- called OCP for short. The pattern is better suited than the "Universal Camouflage Pattern" to blend-in in the Afghanistan environment. It is also known as "MultiCam."

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Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston said the new uniform pattern will better serve Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan because it keeps them better hidden from the enemy. He participated in a media roundtable at Camp Shelby, Miss., that coincided with the fielding of the new uniform to the first deploying brigade.

"When you look at the detection of the camouflage pattern, the OCP allows the Soldiers to get far closer to a potential enemy before being observed," he said. "Yes, I believe they are safer."

The first unit to get OCP is the 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, at Camp Shelby, Miss. About 3,600 Soldiers there are getting the new uniform. It's the new "Flame Resistant Army Combat Uniform," or FR ACU, with the OCP pattern, that is being fielded to those Soldiers.

Jeff Myhre, the assistant program manager at Program Executive Office - Soldier, said the new uniforms have been designed to help better protect Soldiers from burns.

"The uniforms are tested on 'Pyroman' during a four-second burn scenario, to allow Soldiers who find themselves in a flame situation four seconds to egress a vehicle or a thermal incident," Myhre said.

Myhre added the intent is to insure Soldiers don't get any third-degree burns and don't suffer any more than 30 percent of second degree burns.

"In working with the burn center in San Antonio, (that) almost assures of a 100- percent recovery," he said.

The new uniforms are also treated with the chemical permethrin to help protect Soldiers from insect bites and nuisance insects that can transfer things like leishmaniasis or malaria.

"The FR ACU provides capability for 120 days in combat," said Lt. Col. Michael Sloane, product manager for Soldier clothing and individual equipment. He added it provides about "70 percent" bite protection. "Every single uniform that's going out OCP, effective last week, is treated with permethrin already."

The OCP FR ACU also includes a reinforced seat, buttons on the trouser cargo pockets, and a new crotch design intended to provide increased durability.

The uniform will be fielded with Mountain Combat Boots and OCP-patterned Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, or MOLLE.

Sloan said Soldiers stateside who are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan will now start getting the new uniform, and by November or December, Soldiers already in Afghanistan, but who don't already have the OCP uniform, will also get it.

Gear being fielded to Soldiers with the new pattern includes a cover for the Advanced Combat Helmet, the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System, the Fire Resistant Army Combat Uniform, the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, both the sun hat and patrol cap, name and service tapes for the FR ACU, and multiple pieces of Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.

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