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Army Starts Over on Cammo Search

MultiCam

The Army’s search for yet another new camouflage pattern is back to square one.

Army Times (“MultiCam maker: Camo talks broke down over cost“):

Disagreements over fees for MultiCam, a top-performing contender to be the Army’s main camouflage pattern, have emerged as the main reason the Army has gone in search of a new pattern.

In a rare public statement for Crye Precision, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the MultiCam manufacturer said the Army had selected it in May as its “principle camouflage pattern,” but the decision was derailed after the Army asked Crye to reduce its licensing fees to fabric printers who make uniforms for the Army. When the two sides could not reach a deal, the Army offered to purchase the rights to MultiCam, but they could not agree on a price.

Crye issued a statement Tuesday, which follows pressure on the Army from Congress to cut costs and — in accordance with the 2014 Defense Authorization Act — field camouflage uniforms common to all members of the armed forces.

Officials say the Army is considering adopting the Marine Corps desert and woodland patterns as one option for the new camouflage strategy.

Crye said in its statement Tuesday it had agreed to reduce its fees and offered proposals that would have allowed the Army to buy MultiCam gear at prices within 1 percent of the cost of the pixelated Universal Camouflage Pattern.

But, according to the company, “The Army rejected all of Crye’s proposals and did not present any counter proposals, effectively saying that a proven increase in soldier survivability was not worth a price difference of less than 1 percent.”

In September, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler said the Army’s next camouflage uniform should come in different colors for different environments, and the pattern would be similar to MultiCam.

It’s just bizarre to me that we went from a NATO-standard camouflage pattern to a gaggle of country- and service-specific patterns and can’t find one that works. Or that the Army conducted a serious test on patterns and didn’t lock down a price ahead of time.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    While I don’t deal in camo patterns I did quite a bit of work on coatings and paints. Typically, the US military wants a new material with a long list of very hard to achieve properties (you’re lucky if they don’t violate the laws of physics, or are contradictory), at cost of no more than a can of value brand flat latex at Walmart. Which is why they pump a ton of money in cutting edge research but never actually purchase the materials, unless the small business sells the right to their favorite prime contractor who can lobby their way around the financial restrictions.

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  2. Rafer Janders says:

    Agreed, it is absolutely ridiculous that the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines each have their own camouflage patterns. Just pick one each of desert, woodland, urban, etc. and apply it across all services. Yet another cost to the taxpayer of inter-service rivalry….

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  3. Mikey says:

    @Rafer Janders: What’s odd, too, is we used to have that–the old BDU woodland and desert patterns were used by all the service branches. It’s only fairly recently–less than 10 years–that they’ve gone to service-specific patterns.

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  4. Kolohe says:

    “When the two sides could not reach a deal, the Army offered to purchase the rights to MultiCam, but they could not agree on a price.”

    I wonder if the government can eminent domain IP.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @Kolohe: The government grants IP rights. Presumably, the Patent and Trademarks Office could rule that camouflage patterns are insufficiently novel to merit such protection, rendering them public domain.

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  6. Tyrell says:

    What they need is to develop a type of deflection camouflage like what the alien in “Predator” had.
    (“Predator”: Schwarzenegger’s greatest)

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