WASHINGTON - The Army revealed on Monday a redesigned combat uniform with a more easily recognizable pattern. This marks a major change from the digital camouflage pattern implemented in 2012.
The new all-green uniforms harken back to the original Army gear worn by the toy soldiers beloved by so many. "We needed to get back to our roots," says Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. "Looking back at what people think of when someone says "army soldier" the answer was clear: a solid green approach was both recognizable and nostalgic."
Timothy O’Neill, a former professor of engineering psychology at West Point who spent 37 years concocting and analyzing the now-defunct digital military camouflage approves the change, noting: "The digital camouflage pattern was an improvement from the UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) of 2004, but we realized that we could do better and create something transcendently unique."
The uniform is being produced in a single, universal pattern to replace the two camouflage versions in current use: tan-brown for desert use and green-brown-black for woodland settings. The bright, solid color initially drew criticism from some experts who feared increased visibility in urban and sandy climates such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the Army admits that the new design will be more visible, it contends this saliency is actually a positive. "Initially, the fact that there is hardly any green in the Middle Eastern climes was brought up as a concern, but this quickly turned into a reason in favor of the new design. Iraq and Afghanistan are so monochromatic, with hardly a splash of color in sight. The infusion of beautifully toned uniforms will break up the monotony that I'm sure is a cause of complaint for so many denizens of these desert zones. Plus, the green facepaint offers superb SPF sun protection. It's a win-win!"
Additionally, the new uniforms have been demonstrated to increase recognition. In a focus group conducted in the Fort Bragg area, 100% of participants identified personnel sporting the new gear as "Army Soldiers" while the old camouflage garnished a mere 65% recognition. "All those different patterns were confusing people," says Major Tom Brookline, who modeled the new look for the press last week, "People didn't know what was what - Army, Air Force, Navy, National Guard, it was chaos. Now, no one will mistake an Army soldier ever again!"
The new uniforms are made of sturdy coated chambray and include pants, jacket, belt, helmet, and corresponding face paint. Soldiers also will get a new, no-shine, green combat boot complete with green plastic extension platforms. This increased surface area of the foot will allow troops to almost glide over sandy terrain, and prevent sinking in when worn on snow.
Recruits will be issued the redesigned uniform starting August 2013, and the entire Army will be outfitted by December 2014.