MARPAT, UCP, MutiCam, and Scorpion 2
The United States Army has apparently chosen a replacement for the Universal Camouflage Pattern and the stopgap MultiCam pattern. The newly selected pattern, Scorpion 2, looks a whole lot like the stopgap.
I’m no expert in what makes for effective camouflage.1 In fact, I go out of my way to be more rather than less visible when men and women carrying firearms might be in the general vicinity. But my understanding is that UCP has long been acknowledged to be a poor performer in most environments, much less universally.
While soldiers have been making do with the less than optimal UCP while the Army undertook its years-long search for a replacement, Marines have been issued uniforms in functionally superior MARPAT. MARPAT is patented, and the Marine Corps has staunchly resisted its inclusion in the Army’s pool of camouflage replacement options. This has lead to the a lot of criticism being leveled at the USMC for stinginess with its intellectual property, with the implication that it wishes the Army ill. That kind of critique skips over the consideration that the retention of the intellectual property rights might be more in the interest of doing something positive for Marines rather than to soldiers, and it misses the role that clothing has to play in social organization. For the last decade MARPAT has been helping Marines to both avoid detection in the field and to stand out as part of an institution that is able to kit its members out in effective battledress, while UCP has been doing just the opposite for soldiers. That’s a twofer to be proud of, in my opinion.
1. Bearing in mind that I am no expert on the topic, those interested in the first principles of camouflage might find Sven Ortmann’s camo-related posts at his Defense and Freedom milblog a good first stop. And the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s “Masters of Disguise: the World of Camouflage” exhibition (through 24 August 2014) looks like a promising destination for residents of or visitors to NYC.↩
Dugas, Anabela, John Joseph Heisterman Heisterman Jr., Luisa DeMorais Santos, Gabriel R. Patricio, and Deirdre E. Townes. “Camouflage pattern for sheet material and uniforms.” USD491372 S1, filed June 19, 2001, and issued June 15, 2004. Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy.
Forsyth, Isla McLean. 2012. “From dazzle to the desert: a cultural-historical geography of camouflage.” Ph.D. thesis, University of Glasgow. http://theses.gla.ac.uk/3445/.
Stevens, Martin, and Sami Merilaita, eds. 2009. Animal camouflage: current issues and new perspectives. Vol. 364, no. 1516 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.