Army ditches pixelated pattern on combat uniforms



The U.S. Army’s digital Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) uniform is so “last week.” Starting Oct. 1, all soldiers are sporting the green-and-brown Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform, or OCP. It’s a throwback camo.

The Operational Camouflage Pattern is a return to a more traditional look.

The UCP pattern had been tested and found to provide better concealment than 10 other patterns, before it was brought onboard in 2004 with great fanfare and at great cost. But it was poorly received by some soldiers in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan who said it just didn’t blend well enough in the desert environment. It was better suited for woodlands.

There were a couple of problems with the pixelated pattern. One, it didn’t incorporate any black, and that made it appear flat, and easier to spot.

But the bigger issue was the optical effect that occurs when the human eye sees a number of colors and patterns as a single color. Known as isoluminance, the defect in the pattern resulted from the numerous issues resulting from pixelation.

[Read: The history of invisibility]

The Army has been transitioning into the OCP for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2014, when the Army announced that OCP would replace all UCP uniforms by October, 2019.

It was a $5 billion uniform experiment that had come shortly after the U.S. Marines moved to digital-designed camouflage battle uniforms.

By 2016, appropriators in Congress had seen enough and began working on provisions to prevent the Defense Department from developing new service-specific camouflage, and new rules were soon developed by the Defense Department to address further textile waste.

[Read ‘The $5 Billion Army Camouflage That Failed to Hide Its Soldiers]


  1. Yep,
    Defense contractors need a new excuse to bill American Taxpayers another $5 Billion for new uniforms.
    BTW…I thought Trump was gonna “pull out” of Iraq and Afghanistan?

  2. If you know anything about the middle Eastern politics, you know that it’s a powder keg and unless we’re just going to bury our head in the sand like a stupid ostrich, we can’t afford to let the place go to hell. It’ll come back on us and bite us in the ass. So we have to maintain a minimally invasive Force to appease the locals yet still be able to influence what goes on there.

    • Greg,
      Your thinking:
      “…we can’t afford to let the place go to hell.”
      Has plagued Empires for centuries as they have each tried to police the world.
      If you are really saying we must protect the oil wells in the sand, then I believe it is time these corporate global conglomerates hire their own security services without draining the American economy Trillions of tax dollars every year. (Not to mention nearly 20 years of sacrificing U.S. soldiers lives, mobility, and sanity)…
      You see Iraq has been at conflict betweens Sunni and Shia factions since the Muslim Prophet (and Founder) died way back in the 7th Century.
      Thinking Americans have a solution to this religious debacle is a farce.

  3. 17 years too late. That camo didn’t work from the get go. The ‘chocalate chips’ worked better. The only place it worked was on a digital screen. It absolutely did get people killed. The new stuff, 8 years old, works even better than the BDUs or the old ‘tiger stripes’.

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