The Army's transition to its newest ACU camo pattern - called Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) - will be starting at 19 Army posts throughout the country on July 1. OCP is not only a different camo pattern from the current Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) and MultiCam (issued to deploying soldiers since 2010), but the ACU also features a few design changes following requests from some soldiers.
New Camouflage Pattern, New Design
According to Col. Robert Mortlock, Army Program Manager of Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, the new OCP pattern has undergone rigorous and demanding testing in a wide variety of environments. Although it looks similar to the beige/brown/green MultiCam pattern, according to the results of the testing, it performed better. Also part of this new ACU uniform - a darker belt and t-shirt, as well as coyote brown boots.
The new ACUs will also incorporate a few design changes after receiving feedback from numerous soldiers over the years. The 8 redesigned aspects of the ACU are:
- A new collar design that eliminates the hook-and-loop closures.
- The upper sleeve pocket is longer, and a zipper replaces the hook-and-loop.
- The internal elbow pads have been removed, but the reinforced fabric remains.
- The sleeve pen pocket has two pen channels instead of three.
- No drawstring in the waistband.
- Cargo pocket no longer has a cord-and-barrel lock.
- The internal knee pad has been removed, but the reinforced fabric remains.
- The lower leg pocket removes the hook-and-loop and adds a button closure.
A Slow Transition
The new camo uniforms will be available at 19 select installations on July 1. A rollout to 28 additional installations will happen on September 1, and 63 more on November 1. The uniforms will be issued as standard beginning on January 1, 2016. The OCP pattern will be available for U.S. Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, and Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps during summer 2016.
To help ease the financial burden of this change, the Army is giving soldiers 4 years for this uniform transition, so that soldiers may use their normal clothing allowance and buy the new uniforms as they receive their allowance and need new ACU items. Additionally, soldiers will be allowed to mix and match some parts of their uniform - old boots, belts, and t-shirts can be worn with the new ACUs (even wearing a new t-shirt and belt and old boots is allowed), but you cannot wear the new, darker accessories with the old UCP ACU.
OCIE and Variants
The Army will also eventually issue Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) in the new OCP pattern, but that won't be available on July 1. The helmets, body armor, and rucksacks will be continue to be manufactured as current contracts dictate, but the new OCP pattern will eventually make its onto soldiers' OCIE.
The Army is still undecided on whether or not it will issue specific OCP patterns for a particular environment, such as a jungle or desert variant. According to Col. Mortlock, there is no timetable for the Army's decision on camouflage variants, but if they are issued, they would only be used for small-scale missions in a select few environments and seasons. They would not be worn in garrison.