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U.S. Army Explores ‘Quick Fix’ Camouflage Solutions

Representatives from the Multifunctional Materials Team, Warfighter Science, Technology and Research Directorate at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, in Natick, Mass., have identified a need to identify potential “on the spot” and “quick fix” solutions “that provide on-the-spot soldier camouflage improvements for soldiers deployed in current and future military operating environments.”

According to an early May request for information, the desired solutions “will have the capability to adjust camouflage uniforms and Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) in-the-field to provide enhanced performance in specific sites of conflict. This capability will allow for an expedient alternative to the current process of typically waiting months for specific printed camouflage material to be fabricated into uniforms.”

Current and future uniforms worn by U.S. soldiers will provide camouflage properties in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions for a generalized terrain (wooded, arid, and transitional),” the announcement explains. “Although colors and patterns of fielded camouflage uniforms will provide effective blending in a generalized terrain, specific areas of conflict may depart from the generalized terrain due to particular vegetation, amount of rainfall, or seasonal changes.”

In recognition of these instances of “background departure,” the new government investigation is seeking concepts for “on-the-spot/field solutions that can be applied to the baseline uniform that will provide for better visual/near-infrared blending for specific areas.”

Emphasizing that government interest is not seeking new camouflage colors and/or patterns for specific regions, the announcement identifies four key performance requirements for any quick fix solutions to adjust uniforms for mission specific areas of conflict:

  1. Provide visual camouflage in a range of typical military colors so that soldiers can adapt their uniforms and PPE to complement an assortment of specific terrains;
  2. Provide a break-up of near infrared spectral region with at least three distinct levels of reflectance;
  3. Be easily applied to and removed from the current uniform and PPE by soldiers in the field, and;
  4. After application, not be flammable or reduce the flame resistance of current uniform materials.

Respondents are requested to describe their submitted technology/capability and identify the level and type of camouflage protection offered (e.g., sensor types and/or terrains addressed, environmental effects, etc.). Developmental products should include estimates of specific technology readiness levels.

By

Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-29300">

    Camouflage is overrated. Check the bad guys in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. No Camouflage. As a former SEAL who served in Vietnam I wore an ERDL Shirt, Levis and a Tiger stripe hat. Others wore full ERDL, Black dyed Jungle Greens, Levis with a green, Black or navy blue t-shirt. The VC/NVA did pretty well at hiding and killing and so did we. The bad guys today have done pretty well at killing our soldiers yet they wear no camouflage. Our money would be better spent on weapons, boots and body armor. Also there is a need for better field medical supplies.

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-29352">

    I’ve been wondering for years, why were the Levis so popular among Vietnam-era SEALs? Having waded through more than a few streams and sloughs in them while backpacking or hunting, I always felt like they got way too heavy and restrictive when wet.

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-29354">

    Levis were kind of a California thing. I don’t think SEAL TEAM TWO wore them as much if at all. SEAL TEAM ONE kind of cornered the market on them.That being said they were more resistant to Nipa palm an other prickly things in the Delta. We often attached ERDL oockets to them. I think they looked pretty cool too.

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-29356">

    You mentioned we should put more money into weapons. Notwithstanding SOCOM having more leeway with respect to small arms procurement, so that special operations folks have a little more choice in what they can carry, would you have expected back then for the M16/M4 to still be around today?

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-29359">

    II thought that we might go back to 7.62mm NATO as the standard round. I was an Automatic Weapons Man and carried the Stoner 63A 5.56mm belt fed short barreled version. I loved it. Our platoon had four Stoners, four M60s, 2 M16/M203s, One CAR14/M203 and one AK47. Lots of firepower.

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-chuck-oldham odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-29390">

    I was told one time that the Stoner had a fault in that under certain conditions it could “run away” on automatic. It was a passing comment and I never understood how that would work. Otherwise I’ve only read and heard great reports, and that while at the time the brass just didn’t get it, the whole modular concept is coming around again and once again being talked about as the wave of the future. Well, maybe this time.

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-29452">

    Chuck, There was an incident where the upper and lower receiver separated and the weapon began to go full auto in one of our boats. The operator was killed and I believe another SEAL was wounded. The twp parts were held together by two pins that had a tendency to vibrate loose when the weapon was fired.his problem was later addressed. I replaced my pins with bolts, lock washers and locking nuts.

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-30146">
    Bill O Rights

    It seems to me the bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan are wearing very effective camouflage. They dress to blend in with their environment, specifically they camouflage themselves as civilians.