New Army Camos: No Place to Hide?

At the middle of 2004, the Army announced that its soldiers would get a new uniform. No longer would G.I.s have keep separate outfits for desert or woodland combat. The new, “digital” Army Combat Uniform, or ACU, would be capable of blending into them all. Slate explained how, shortly after the roll-out:

Making the ACU as invisible as possible required developing an entirely new “digital” camouflage pattern, derived from the Marine Corps’ so-called “MARPAT” camo scheme, which was launched in 2001. MARPAT is pixilatedbit-mapped on a computer, and then “printed” directly onto nylon… Unlike the old camo, digital camo suggests shapes and colors without actually being shapes and colorslike visual white noise. While it may serve a hunter well to appear to be part of a tree, a contemporary soldier needs to be on the move, and so his camouflage must help him blend into the “flow of space.”

But how much does it help, really? The ACU has now been in service for 18 months or so; the entire Army should be outfitted with the camos by the end of this year. Some soldiers, gathered on the AR15 website, are complaining that the “universal” cammos aren’t really suited to every environment. Yeah, the outfits do a good job of hiding people in the desert and in cities, they argue. But There’s very little green in the ACU’s pattern, they argue. So the things stick out like a sore thumb wherever there’s even a bit of vegetation.

“I just came back from a range, where there was dry sandy areas, grassy areas and a wooded area behind it. Many soldiers still had BDUs [Battle Dress Uniforms, the old green outfits] and the rest had ACUs. Throughout the day I couldn’t help but notice that no matter what the backgound was, the ACU attracted the eye and stood out quite obvious, whereas the BDU really only stood out in the sandy areas. What was also quite obvious was the fact that I wasn’t the only one that noticed it. From the colonel on down, there were rather drastic remarks on the uniforms ineffectiveness. Not so much bitching about durability, velco, etc., just the colors. It was obvious that at some time, some place, this garbage will get soldiers killed.”
“I just returned from A-stan where we were on of the last units to be issued DCU’s [the old Desert Combat Uniforms]. When the ACU’s started showing up there was quite a stink about the “multi environment” claim as it stuck out badly. The SF guys would wear the “target identification cloth” (ACU) inside the wire but when on an operation would wear BDU or DCU depending where they were going. Only the office and supply pogues at Bagram thought the ACU’s were the “hip” thing to wear.

img1b.jpgThen there’s the conspiracy theory. Different uniform designs were tried out, including a “multicam” pattern from Brooklyn’s Crye & Associates, before the Army picked its digital camos. Some say Crye’s design (see left) did a better job hiding soldiers — but wasn’t picked, regardless.

“During testing the ACU was thrown out during the first round at Natick [Soldier Systems Center]. A Multicam type of uniform had won in the final testing. As was told by Natick labs, all research was set aside… the final “choice” [was made] with absolutely no soldier feedback or testing… There are hundreds of emails and letters daily as to the ineffectiveness of the ACU. However, leadership is turning a blind eye to these very valid complaints. For what reason is unknown. Political I would guess.”

So let’s hear it: Which uniform do y’all like better? Got any stories of the ACU sticking out — or working like a charm? Sound off in the comments.
(Big ups: WT)
UPDATE 2:17 PM: Just to be clear, there are definitely situations where the ACUs work very, very well. For instance, check out this picture David Axe took at the National Training Center last July. One soldiers’ legs are practically invisible.

  • J6A2001

    I have to say, ACU’s supposedly are working like a charm in Iraq. From what I’ve heard, the ACU’s are perfectly suited for Arid/ Urban environments. However, as far as being a “universal” uniform, the uniform fails. Supposedly, the pattern isn’t supposed to excel in any one environment, just perform “ok.”
    As we can plainly see the uniform just doesn’t work in any other environment other than the two I mentioned above. It attracts the eye! I’ve also heard reports that on clear nights with a full moon, the uniform almost seems to glow in the dark due to being such a light color.
    Multicam would have been a far better uniform pattern as far as a universal pattern goes. The only thing I have a problem with is Crye’s prices for Multicam uniforms, something akin to $95-$100 for a field shirt and $95-$110 for field pants. I do think their Combat Shirt is rather ingenious, standard fabric for the sleeves, shoulder, and collar, with Under Armor-like material for the trunk of the shirt which would be under body armor.
    I have, however, seen one picture where the ACU pattern works grandly:

  • judah

    If you scroll down a couple posts to the one on the Ethiopian campaign, I think the photo speaks for itself.

  • b

    Soory OT - but since when does the US drive armoured mercedes trucks?…htm

  • Edward Liu

    The link to the pic David Axe took is actually going to an article at USA Today about some astonishingly ignorant comments made by a Virginia state assemblyman or something. Who may need effective camouflage once his comments hit the mainstream press, but I don’t think that was the link you meant to include =8^).

  • Noah Shachtman

    Yikes! Fixed…

  • Edward Liu

    Duh, forgot the other thing I meant to ask. If the ACU is based on the same basic idea as MARPAT, how do the Marines feel about their MARPAT uniforms? Or is the fact that they still have woodland and desert versions (they do, don’t they?) addressing the shortcomings of the “one-size-fits-all” attitude of the ACU?

  • BWJones

    Part of the problem is not just overall concealment, but also breaking up the edges of the perceived image (much like David’s Flickr pic). This of course has been controversial ever since WWI where objects even as large as ships were painted in wild colors and disruption patterns in an effort to conceal edges, movement and overall form.

  • Sergeant-At-Arms

    This doesn’t surprise me. The digital “cammies” looked ridiculous for mountain and forested warfare and it is a perfect example of single-minded, neurotic military thinking. Why are they so hung up on uniforms? Just wear what works at the moment.

  • Solomon

    Regarding MARPAT
    Much satisfaction with the new cammies. The issue with color is taken care of by having a desert and jungle set. “Woodlands” are out and not issued or authorized wear. The Marine Corps leadership sent out a survey and from that many of the features requested by the Fleet were incorporated into the design, ie. removal of the pockets from the blouse and the placement of pockets on the sleeves etc…
    But I think the major factor for the success of the Marpat pattern is the recognition that one color pattern would work in all environments. I will watch the Army’s debate on this to see what solutions they come up with.

  • Matthew

    I served in the Marine Corps from 1999-2003. I was there when they started switching from the old cammies to the new MARPATs. I was a bit skeptical at first, but then I fell in love with the things when I saw them in action. In a heavily vegetated area like Camp Pendleton, there were a lot of different colors during the seasons, and the new “didgies” blended in much better than the old woodlands, which had too many sharp colors. And to those who think black never appears in nature, that doesn’t matter, since it does very well to break up patterns, especially under canopy shade.

  • Mike

    A big part of the Army decision was cost; the old process was wear BDUs everywhere, even NTC or Ft. Carson (who’s main training center, Pinon Canyon, is as much desert as NTC) you’re in green. We had tan vehicles (green aircraft though - that still doesn’t make sense, we really need to paint our aircraft in desert colors) and woodland bdus, boots, packs, LBV etc.
    When we deployed to OIF1, there were huge issues getting everyone DCUs/ADCUs in the right sizes and enough sets to get you through a year of heavy use.
    I think a big part of the decision making was keeping the costs down, reducing the Army’s need to buy DCU’s for a deployment. They don’t allow wear of DCUs back in garrison, and they weren’t part of the CIF system, so it was a real mess - you got issued them, in the closest siz still available, then kept them after the deployment. Next deployment, same process.
    Regardless, I think the Marines really got this one right - two sets, Soldiers keep them both and wear based on the environment. For the army it’s too political (the old school CSMs hate it) and short sighted budget decisions.

  • Jarrad

    I think part of the problem comes from the design of digital camouflage in the first place. I’d conjecture that the way you test digital patterns in a standardized format would be to take pictures of them with a digital camera and try to compare the pictures, maybe see if you can fool a computer. But the human eye doesn’t work like a digital camera, so while such a method is conveniently verifiable in a lab, it won’t necessarily work at all in the field.
    Does anyone know any of the details regarding how they tested these digital patterns in the first place? It seems to me that relying of computerized pixelated patterns of blending into an environment isn’t a well thought out way of trying to develop ways of fooling the human eye. At least until those invisibility cloaks start coming out:

  • Wes Turner

    Another factor is the fact that the ACU is very susceptible to fading what little color it does have when washed with the wrong detergents, many of which have optical brighteners as part of their formula. The result is the “Grey” uniforms one sees with no bit of green in them at all. There is an Army approved list of detergents, but many are unaware of this, and/or the approved detergents are not always available.
    The fix for the ACU is very simple- change the colors, that’s all. By adding good neutral tints such as the “Sand” color from the DCU, the “Coyote” color from MARPAT, and a non-fading version of the “Foliage Green” currently already in the ACU, and keeping the same cammo pattern, I belive a revamped ACU would work much better as a Universal uniform.

  • Mr. Know it All

    Looks really bright on the eyes to me. My advice to anyone wearing that on the battlefield: Duck & cover!

  • Melanie

    I’ve seen the ACU’s a lot around Dallas and such, especially up at the airport, and let me say, they blend in pretty well… the city. But every time I see them, I frown, because there isn’t really any like, natural colors in them. It’s all really light colors, and in teh dark areas of a woodland, they would stick out like a ghost. The Army went for a compromise, and didn’t get anything good for their money, in my opinion. Plus, one uniform may be more economic, but being economic doesn’t save lives.

  • Will

    First, Marines are not soldiers. If you refer to the men and women that make up the Marine Corps, you better refer to them as Marines.
    The ACU was created more as a recruiting tool, than an actual combat uniform. The way I see it, the Army saw the Marine Corps uniforms, and decided they wanted to join the party also, but probably couldn’t use the MARPAT colors since the Marine Corps has a trademark on the patterns.
    Since the Army thinks it’s ok to wear their BDU’s in public, they wanted to make a uniform that was cool, and looked good in a mall, or on the sidewalk, and making an effective combat uniform was secondary.
    If this is truly universal, why did the Army choose boots that are light tan? Hell, even the Air Force has boots that are a greyish, brown color. This is classic Army thinking, where every desk jockey wants their own features, and you end up with this grey ball of velcro, that is more effective on a recruting poster, and on the backs of supply monkeys, than on the backs of actual combat troops.

  • akhilleus514

    I went to see my buddy at Fort Irwin, and he kinda faded into the wall of the PX there, and looking straight at him was strange. I remember when I was in, thinking that everything in the field eventually turns a dirty grey color anyway, so why not. Personally, I like the Multi-Cam, especially the exquisitely designed Combat Pant, with it’s loose

  • AFSarge

    The sad thing about the Air Force Battle Uniform, always get a bit of a chuckle everytime I say that, is that the main things the uniform board talks about it is, wearability and ease of maintenance. I have spoken with the owner of Tiger Stripe Products, the originator of the ABU, and he is beside himself at the Air Force’s decision process and train of thought. No where is the Air Force concerned about camouflage, concealment, and deception. Nor functionality for the warfighter. it is an old design, with a few idea ripped off from the Army ACU. I think the Air Force ABU will be even worse than the Army ACU. I like the Special Forces definition, “Target Identification Cloth”, that’s rich!

  • John

    Most everyone I know in the service thinks the ACU patern is too light. It is a desert pattern that trys to work in the woods.
    ACU’s do not contain black because black draws the eye. It only occurs in nature on dead or dangerous things. It is hard wired into our brains and those of animals that black moving is bad. Notice that all the newer hunting designs have no black in them. Dark brown and dark grey yes, but no black. Name tapes and rank use black so you can read them, OD or brown would be better in the field.
    I suspect that better patterns were available but are copyrighted by someone. Additionally, there is a lot of “Not Invented Here” sindrome involved in the process. Sort of like the Dragon Skin fiasco and the 9mm pistol selection process.
    It is a universal pattern, it does not work well anywhere.

  • Wes Turner

    So the four services have given up on standardization and economies of scale, each wanting its own distinctive uniform.
    The result? Aside from a greater burden on the taxpayer, is a success ratio of 1 to 4.
    The ACU is marginal, but the Air Force Battle Uniform and the Navy Working Uniform are disaters…and they are so clearly inappropriate for the servicemen who will have to wear them that the selection process and/or judgement of the leadership element who adopted them must be called into question.
    Not that the Marine Corps is blameless…copyrighting the MARPAT design and incorporating the USMC insignia in the pattern itself killed any chance of the Marine Corps Combat Uniform being adopted by all services, as it should have been.

  • Smintjes

    The Latvian desert cammies are far from the same as the Danish ones. Danish desert camo is not digital, it is more or less the same as the German one, albeit with slightly other colors and a more “busy” pattern. Latvian camo uses digitized spots, although the colors are the same as German W

  • AJ

    When the ACU was adopted it was touted as being “universal” camouflage. Not perfect but effective in all environments. Well, we know now that the opposite is true. It universally stands out in most environments and actually ATTRACTS the eye.
    Since the ACUs camouflage effectiveness is an obvious and outright failure, we’re now told that camouflage is outdated on the modern battlefield and the REAL reason for the ACU is easy identification, reducing the “fog of war” and fratricide. Yeah, right.
    The adoption of the ACU is said to address cost and logistics issues. In return we recieved a laughable and inferior excuse for a “uniform”.
    I worry about an Army that places ease of logistics higher than soldier survivability.

  • Price

    Well, i’m in the military and i’m in the desert. If i’m going to be trying to take cover or something from enemy fire, it’s kinda impossible. In bright conditions your noticable period.
    One question we can ask ourselves: How many of our enemies have nightvision technology anyway? usually attacks i’ve seen are during day time. something we can consider are issued different situational uniforms. In woodland; more of a green, dirt colors. In desert; tan, coyote colors. In urban; darker gray(for shadowing purposes) & tan(universal building color). The army issues 6 sets of ACU’s so they could reconstitute 2 sets of the given examples.
    Anyway, many people know that in the army it’ll take forever for something like that to click in someone’s, in the higher position, head.

  • mark johnston

    Seeing both camo’s together in different enviroment’s shows both have equal advantage’s and disadvantages.The pic I seen of the acu aginst green, you would be as well wearing a high vis vest. What you need is some type of cameleon suit that will blend to different surrounding’s. acu for urban and desert, traditional camo for anywhere that has a lot of vegetation, to me your still back at square one really. If your coming to battle in SCOTLAND you better bring your greens.

  • freesom

    Gum Gum for Dum Dum

  • Scott

    A pitty the Army didn’t have the Canadian Government do a similar version of our CADPAT uniform. The Marines had the right idea in following the same concept. I wouldn’t dream of going back to olive drab.

  • anthony
    the airforce has the right idea(abu’s)
    pixelated tiger stripe

  • Neil

    I don’t understand why we dont take history into account. The germans during WW2 had some great uniforms which blended into the surrounds very well.
    But what really worked was the fact that the uniform were reversable, simple really. Woodland/ green based one side and Auturm/desert on the other.
    Why not do somthing like that? Get posted and use the side appropriate to the surroundings. You could even have green based and urban, attack a city and turn the jacket the other way around!!!

  • Major Riptide

    First of all, a little background on me-
    US Army
    H-60 Pilot
    1x Year Afghanistan
    1x Year Iraq
    Flown from one end to the other of both countries
    Now, my assessment of the ACU.
    - Anyone who believes Iraq or Afghanistan is 100% sand either hasn’t been there, or staying in one AO the entire time. There are areas in both that are pure desert, urban, and some areas that are green foilage. There is no camoflauge pattern in use today that is ideal for all these environments. However, in leiu of having to change out all your uniforms when your unit moves from one area to another, a uniform based on a gray pattern is about the best you can do, for the same reasons that most services paint their aircraft gray (and the Army is trying to find the money to do the same) - gray appears almost everywhere.
    A funny thing about the ACU - straight out of the box, it does stick out in darker environments. I am stationed in Hawaii (tropical) deployed to Iraq (mostly desert). However, when you start operating in an area, it tends to almost take on charactaristics of it’s environment. Not that it’s a “Chameleon” camoflauge, but the fabric simply gets stained, bleached, etc.. In Hawaii, you see guys who train out in the field for a week - the ACUs start to darken and stain with the reddish color of the volcanic soil. In the desert, the dust and sun tend to bleach the ACUs and lighten them.
    A perfect uniform? - No such thing. However, in terms of economy of scale, the ACU does pretty well. Sure - it sucks in a really green environment to a degree, but if we look at where we think our national security strategy will take us in the next 10-20 years, I don’t see a whole lot of jungle in the future. The ACU looks like a pretty good solution.

  • Pitcher

    Well one year in a Army LRS unit over there, and heres my thoughts. Well whenever we went out, those in the hole wore DCU’s plain and simple, thre rest of us got stuck wearing ACU’s, from what I’ve been told, which is probably rumor, is that the Army was looking at the Multicam pattern, but decided against it at the end of the day due to each uniform being 2 dollars more than the ACU pattern. There was talk of the Army and Marines going in together with the same universal pattern, but the Army backed out of it, hence why theres an Eagle Globe and Anchor in the Marcam. and look at it now, the Armys talking about its next gen camo, which looks surprisingly like the multicam pattern! (Check out the Army times for more info)

  • Cody

    There is no contest here in my opinion. The “multicam” camo is by far better than the ACU’s. They blend in better, if they were simply made out of the same light-weight, more mobilized ACU’s. It would be the perfect camo combination. One uniform, any environment…The ACU’s stand out like a black man at a Lynard Skynard concert. I mean come on now…get the uniforms that hide our asses and do away with with those ghost looking ones.

  • john

    the ACUs are danderous and will most likly get one of my bros kia. im in the infantry and this stuff dont work . i own the multi cam patern R.A.C.K.. it works great . im taking it to iraq with me in a week or so . the army needs to swallo thier pride and get over it and go to the multi cam pattern. this stuff works , im a hunter and a soldier , i have seen it and use it , i trust my life to it as much as i can . besides ever see ACUs burn ?they melt like 550 cord and the frabric runs and drips . cant wait to test it in a IED. the fabric is woven so tight on the ACUs that they dont breath and thats also not a good thing in a 120-130 deg weather , what ever im the guy that has to wera them in the field what do i know , they test these things in a AC. office .

  • Rob

    What can honestly be said about the ACU’s that hasnt already been said? Nothing that i can think of, but one of the biggest complaints i have on the subject besides the stupid choice of colors is the damn Velcro… everywhere, the arguement i have heard was that the Velcro was designed to keep the upfront Cost of getting a new uniform sewed up down…. Are they crazy? First of all pin on anything is for straight up POG’s any grunt knows and hates pin on cause it becomes scratched up. and we all know how the army views things that are scratched.. get a new one. sewn on rank, awards and patches may have cost a few dollars more at first but paid for them self with a ONE time investment instead of a new set of pin on crap. back to the velcro. I know that anyone who has spent more than a day in the field knows that velcro has the service life equal to a chem light. I remember back when we had buttons and god forbid that a button was un-buttoned usually resulted in 10 pushups or so. this velcro gets warn out and wont stick or desides to stick to other parts of the uniform. it also has no tactical advantage. a button is silent to open where as velcro can be heard quite well.. at a decent distance. As far as I am concerned ACU’s are JUNK. but who am I… oh yea a grunt that actually uses them in the field they are suppose to protect us in…

  • SFC West

    The ACU pattern, as well as the uniform layout was a mistake. It seems to me the Army wanted to copy the MARP and bought a cheap knockoff of it. Anyone who has been deployed and left the FOB will tell you it does not blend in with the environment, and even the desert has vegitation in it. It might not be all green, but the reeds, and brush is still green. It certainly is NOT grey. The ACU also glows at night. You cannot hide wearing this uniform.
    As a Scout, this is a HUGE issue. Congress finaly got on line and started an investigation to determin weather we have the best armor and weapons, it would be nice if they were paying attention to our uniforms as well. Multicam has a good pattern, and a good unifrom design. I would pay the additional cost for a uniform that worked.

  • scott

    The ACU uniform is flawed. Shining example of the juggarnaut bureaucracy we have. Multicam is superior. If some pencil-pushing bureaucrat picked ACU over Mulitcam for $2.00 per uniform, I’m blowing a gasket. I think our soldiers lives are worth the extra $2 for concealment in a combat environment! I am in the National Guard but bought multicam for myself and coyote brown gear to go with it. Dirt is not seasonal and is everywhere and is brown — what a no brainer.

  • Jose

    I was a grunt for six years in the 101st Airborne and wore woodland, three color desert and ACU. I served two year long tours in Iraq. I have to say that during OP’s and just guard duty in general I felt like a true bullet magnet. The “on the move” excuse is just that, an excuse. Multicam should be what I should have worn and it is truly an exercise in stupidity and the lack of common sense that made the Army pick ACU.

  • Bruce

    There isn’t much more to be said about the ACU, THEY SUCK!, plain and simple. The only good thing that the ACUs have brought to the Army is the tan boots. The IDIOT that thought velcro was a good idea for the uniform should be shot. Yeah it makes changing patches easier, but sewing them on made them that much more important. I can’t even count the number of Uniforms and Covers that my Soldiers have had come up missing due to the nametape being tossed to the side. Not to mention that the ACUs tear on every little thing they touch or the first time you go to take a knee.
    As for the digital pattern, GREAT idea. Even the Iraqi National Police have their own digital patern now. Yeah it has a purblish blue hue to it, which makes them look a bit like the ABUs (Airmen Barracks Unifrom). The Army should have went with the Air Force concept of the DTSP (Digital Tiger Strip Pattern) All Terrain II ACU or Multicam.
    The Iraq Army Desert Uniforms blend in better than my ACUs do!
    I know durring the uniform changes. I watched my Soldiers move on the ground and took my eyes off of them for a minute. When I looked back up I couldn’t find them. I finialy found them by finding the ONE guy in the ACUs.
    I’ve seen the Multicam in use and they work great.

  • mike

    Im a SEAL for SEAL Team 3 Ive been to Afghanistan and Iraq Id say that the ACU isnt the worst thing because it does form to its surroundings a bit better after a week or so of crawling around. I must say that on SR missions in Afghanistan me and a few other guys dressed in Multicam because it blends into the mountain terrain better. In Iraq we wear the PCU top simply because we STAND OUT at night in the ACUs. I thnk the military should adopt the Multicam for sure

  • mike

    Im a SEAL for SEAL Team 3 Ive been to Afghanistan and Iraq Id say that the ACU isnt the worst thing because it does form to its surroundings a bit better after a week or so of crawling around. I must say that on SR missions in Afghanistan me and a few other guys dressed in Multicam because it blends into the mountain terrain better. In Iraq we wear the PCU top simply because we STAND OUT at night in the ACUs. I thnk the military should adopt the Multicam for sure

  • Corey Bassard

    Im an infantry soldier in a striker brigade. I was working in Baghdad for a while and i found that the ACU’s worked best for night ops, or early morning operations in an urban area. Now im in Baquba and I wish we could use MultiCam because all it is up there is palm groves and fields with all the same colors of the MultiCam pattern. The ACU’s stickout like a wine stain on a white shirt. We are noticed without a doubt. I say ACU’s were the army’s excuse to become more “modernized”. The army was just trying to keep up with the Marine Corps.

  • Corey Bassard

    sorry, i was thinking about camp striker where i was statinoed. im apart of 2SCR Stryker Infantry brigade.

  • J

    When I saw ACU I thought it was an Urban Jungle uniform, then I learnt the Abreviation. Who ever made the decision to have this as the standard and only to most uniform obviously doesnt care about the wearer’s life.
    I have seen it in many enviroments and during many times of the day and it does not work. If it worked ok in most common enviroments It wouldnt be so bad but it does not. It only works in Greyish urban areas, mountain area’s or pebble beaches.
    Multicam would have been the better choice but its not the best. The best would have been to use the same or a similer version to MARPAT (desert and woodland) and do away with the universal idea. A Soldier dead or Alive costs more then fabric.

  • Russ Currie

    I have hated the ACU from the second saw it. Everytime I see it in teh field I am reminded of how much I hate it. Everytime I put it on, and my “hook & loop” VELCRO name tape sticks to my shoulder I am reminded of how bad of an idea the ACU is. There simply isn’t a “universal” solution. I think that the Corps has the right idea, different uniforms for different environments. Having said that, all anyone needs to do is either go to, or do what I did, buy a set of multicam, and take as many pictures as humanly possible of just how awful the ACU looks next to multicam. Oh, and to really get an idea of how awful the ACU is at hiding our Soldiers, hang them on a hanger outside during the next full moon, walk about 50 feet away and watch them glow.
    To be fair the ACU does tend to work better in the desert (sometimes) but to get a real feel for what the smart people think of the ACU, check out PEO Soldier or Natick, their people are about 90% of the time in Multicam.
    I hear rumor that Big Army is about to decide to switch to Multicam, but I can find absolutely no verbage on it anywhere, does anyone have any skinny on it?

  • spc georgaklis

    acu’s suck i hope the army relizes this and changes to somthin glike marpat or multicam

  • SSG A.Cora

    I have hated the ACU uniform since the fist time saw it. In my Opnion it does not blend with any thing. I did a tour in Afghanistan and the unifroms stood out like a sore thumb in the monntains. The Velcro is a dumb idea and the rank in the center of my chest is even dumber. The collar is the worst. It never stays down . Its appearence is also sloppy. Pin on skill badges are just as stupid too. Call me old school,but a soldier should look sharp in his uniform when in garrison. We look like a bunch of lazy undisiplined slobs . Bring back black boots too. Issue brown ones for the desert.I dont know who decided to go with the ACU but it was probably some Genral who went out the wire once so he could earn his Combat Acton Badge.Call me bitter if you want but why did’nt they ask the grunts on the round oworks best? That would make sence.

  • will

    The ACU is wholly insufficient for all environments- its’ minty green color may work in A-stan and Iraq- but is horrible elsewhere. If we ever have to go to an environment with vegitation we will have problems. The Army wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on a second-rate uniform. The USMC has a much much better uniform. Ours is a “costume”. I am ashamed we have wasted all this money on something that didn’t really need to be changed- and if we do have to change it go with the USMC design for all the services.
    MAJ IN

  • will

    The ACU is wholly insufficient for all environments- its’ minty green color may work in A-stan and Iraq- but is horrible elsewhere. If we ever have to go to an environment with vegitation we will have problems. The Army wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on a second-rate uniform. The USMC has a much much better uniform. Ours is a “costume”. I am ashamed we have wasted all this money on something that didn’t really need to be changed- and if we do have to change it go with the USMC design for all the services.
    MAJ IN

  • Delta

    i did a little bit of researching on this a week or two ago.
    i must say that it is ABOSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS that they dropped the entire program and then decided to go with one of the worst designs.
    for those of you (though i expect only a few) who believe that it really does its job as a universal camo, i have this to say.
    i know that certain specialty units wear multicam because they can’t stand the ACU pattern.
    also i remember reading a comment that said something about how the iraqi soldiers even laughed at the new uniforms.
    thats kinda sad when you think about it because they wear the old desert camo that was used in the first gulf war.

  • Charlie W

    On a more humorous note, the Army’s newest commercial pitches the slogan “Camo is a great way to get noticed”. I guess they realized what the new ACU’s look like.

  • Confounded

    I can’t believe that after half a decade of soldiers citing deficiencies with this crummy uniform the Army has completely failed to respond. The only answer was to reinforce stitching on thousands of flunky ACUs. These things are an abomination. Zippers, velcro, removable nametapes and badges. Sounds like implementations for the disabled. To make things worse is the color scheme. Even if they were designed with consideration for desert environments they fail there as well. I guarantee that if the Army doesn’t fix this shit soldiers are going to be buying multicam and coyote brown pouches and kit just to break up the eye sore. These ACUs simply don’t cut it. All the services need to get on the same sheet of music and quit experimenting with Judge Dredd futuristic, bullshit concepts.

  • Professional Soldier

    I get a real kick out of the fact that it is typically POAGs that voice favor for the ACU while the grunts cite gross deficiencies with it. Well true to form I must side with my brothers in arms and agree, the ACU is a big heeping pile of shit. The POAGs and flyers can wear flourescent orange if they believe ACUs do their job. PEO soldier claims they used soldier input on the design-I say bullshit. Everyone has questioned what we as soldiers can do. I recommend that officers voice their positions and NCOs use channels to petition the matter. If 9 out of 10 soldiers see deficiencies in their uniform we as an Army need to act. The thirty-some bone heads who came up with the UCP should not sign the death warrants of hundreds. I ask that you tech savvy guys form a site and collect names and contact info. Call it “Soldiers for Multicam”, whatever, the bottom line is we need to make change. Contact PEO Soldier at their office in Ft. Belvoir 703-704-2802. Tell them you want change, submit a proposal, but don’t be surprised when they reply that your suggestion would not improve moral, combat effectiveness or some other bullshit excuse they can pull out of their ass.

    • Chris

      The comment you left wasn’t very professional at all. Yet your name seems to say otherwise. Pogues huh? All that you read was nothing more than typical infantry dogging of non-combat Soldiers. The “Front Lines” no longer exist and the battlefield no longer exists to you. It exists to every Soldier entering an insurgency ridden country. When are you going to get over your selves? And honestly, there are infantry units that think ACU’s work perfectly at night. They don’t and they will always suck.

      With ACUs, even a civilian can see the obvious flaws with ACU as camo. However, any camo you think you need will not conceal you when you’re simply just walking down a street where EVERYONE sees you.

  • Spartan 71

    I am new to the Army, having recently come over from the Marine Corps to attend SFAS and hopefully, the Q course. I have never disliked one thing in all my years in the military so much as this useless camo pattern they call ACU. While a general rule of the universe holds true that nothing universal will ever work as well as something designed with a more limited scope. If this was true every mechanic on earth would have a leatherman and do away with their toolbox but they don’t. In my job in the Marine Corps and my current job in the Army I can’t stress the importance of a good camo pattern enough. And this just isn’t it! Who in the military goes back to old gear by choice, and that is exactly what is happening with every single unit given the choice.
    Zippers… good luck repairing that in the field. Velcro… Lets not bother tearing that idea apart. Pin ons… Won’t bother with that either. Quality… Not worth mentioning. And of course… the usefulness of the pattern itself. And please don’t try the “it adapts to its environment” line. If I wear a plain colored uniform and roll around in the dirt I am sure it to will stain and get dirty and thus “adapt to its environment”. But then again in the Army that wouldn’t be camouflage, it would just be dirt and you would be told real quick that you need to clean that uniform.

  • Emiel

    Hi, I’m Emiel from the Netherlands and I’m not in the military, but I play a lot of paintball in several surroundings. I’ve seen both ACU and Multicam in action and the only thing I want to say is that Multicam blows the ACU pattern away in every environment…

  • Armand Smith

    I’m AWFULLY confused on our Military; more specifically, the ARMY. I have looked at various pictures of the ACU’s, the proposed MULTICAM, and MARPAT. MARPAT does VERY well, but not as well as Multicam, YET the current ACU camo won out; this makes NO sense to me at all. For the one impressive picture of the ACU’s, there are probably literally 100’s for the other 2 patterns. As a side bar, you should all do some research into the DRAGONSKIN body armor. It OUT CLASSES out Army’s interceptor vests , yet the Army banned its use in I think March……and didn’t even test it until MAY. WHAT?? There are also instances of special ops forces, and security teams of Generals
    equipped with DRAGONSKIN, yet the Army has banned it? I wonder how far this treachery goes……….next they’ll ban the .68 caliber rounds that have the accuracy and velocity of the 5.56, yet the knockdown and stopping power of the
    7.62. I wonder if all this stuff boils down to cost or what…….

  • Anonymous

    ACUs work in a lot of environments, (especially when they’re dirty, as others have pointed out; if the guy in the article’s first picture hadn’t just stepped out of his limo in a brand new uniform including boots he’d probably be at least as well hidden as the guy on the right in my experience) but they don’t work well in deep woodlands and they glow in the moonlight. When they were first coming out I remember that cost was one of the reasons cited for sticking with only one pattern. But the ACU costs twice as much as the old uniforms! I have to say though that the whole velcro patches deal seems to have caught on outside the US Army. Makes it easy to borrow your buddy’s stuff I guess.

  • Robert

    2 point out im not in the military but n a jrotc high school programme but i do go hunting .
    this summer r battalion formed up with other jrotc battlions 4 a cadet camp wer d majority of cadets wore acu’s I call them attracting/confirming/uniform.
    this camp was n d new mexico woods they stuck out like a black eye on a white guy.
    they wer 2 light n only blended in when they wer by dead grey trees ther wer very few. d cadets in old bdu’s blended n better . i also took me sum woodland marpat 2 test it out worked perfectly n d cadets their gave it high praise.
    Also a camp assistant wore marpat n ran up a mountain side if it wasnt for his motion i wouldnt have spotted him. which shows d marines know what their doing once again like always OORAH!

  • Soldier

    Robert, I would advise that you not speak or spell in ebonix when communicating with people who serve; it’s disrespectful and makes you look stupid. -OORAH? WTF, JROTC?

  • j

    so what can we do about it? who do we contact to change the ACU?

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  • Devin

    They ought to re-name these ICU’s. I see you’s…

  • DSB

    All the fuss is for nothing! ACUs work GREAT… on a gravel road. Outside of that, we might as well wear our new army service uniform (new dress blues) to combat. The ACUs are combat ineffective and as wrong as two boys in bed!!

  • anony

    I dislike the ACU’s camo pattern,but I like the uniform itself.I like its overall design (a bit iffy on the velcro) and how it doesn’t need to be ironed.
    I think we should just take the MARPAT and get it over with.

  • Simon

    From what I can see ACU works ok in desert but only if it gets covered in sand first. It works ok in urban settings but no one is truly concealed in an urban setting; the best camouflage would be civilian dress. It looks useless everywhere else.
    Multicam is better but not quite green enough for tropical or forest settings.
    Interestingly, the British are overhauling their uniforms and equipment at the moment. They’ve not gone digital but are varying the colour schemes of their desert and temperate uniforms. They are also considering a hybrid pattern (khaki, brown and green flecks)which would be used on body armour and load carrying equipment and apply in both theatres. Apparently it works well in Afghanistan where you have arid regions with scraps of vegetation. For pictures go to the PECOC discussion thread on

  • Unknown

    I just want to say that whoever(the government) chose this ACU uniform, wasn’t thinking at all. The the multicam uniform is the way to go! The ACUs just don’t even come close to the multicam.



  • Zulu22

    I think Canada has it right, the CADPAT pattern works wonders in the bush up north, europe and in the jungle and the Arid version is PERFECT in the desert. Should stick with two patterns, one for desert and one for Northern bush and jungle.

  • Mark de Alencar

    I will returning to service in April 09 after 4yrs away. When i left BDUs and DCUs were in my opinion were adequate. When i look at the ACUs they almost glow against most backgrounds, on the other hand hand the MULTICAM is truly a more universal pat. I have also heard from some recruiters in the station where i reenlisted that in 2009 the army will oficially change to MULTICAM. IS this true? I hope so because it would suck to be a victim of Negligence on the the part of POLITICIAN-SOLDIERS. We have been misled and neglected too many times ie. NOT ENOUGH MRAPS, INFERIOR BODY ARMOR issues, etc.

  • wade

    The acus may look cool to some people. I think they look awesome myself, but they are hard to keep in decent shape they stain fairly easily, tear a lot and my name keeps sticking to my arm or coming off on my arm. Of course they won’t let me just sew it to the uniform at all kinda dumb but oh well. I don’t get why they chose this uniform really and I keep seeing new multicams coming out in our stores no name velcro only arm velcro they seem to be a sturdier material and look fairly nice they’d work awesome in sandy areas and some wooded areas by the looks of em hopefully we get something a little more useful like that. But only we can dream

  • Novis-M

    GUYS - IT’S OVER! Congress just passed a bill ordering the Army to buy new different uniforms for the units in Afghanistan, probably Multicam. US Army also authorized 173rd Airborne BCT to wear Multicam for their next tour to A-stan. Here are the links: and

  • tony aughney

    who in their right mind would have chosen this uniform. talk about sniper friendly.the first time i saw it on US troops in kosovo i thought it was an urban only simply doesn’t’s obvious it was the cheapest option.the pale/cream colour ruins it. replace it with green or brown like the multicam and you’re sorted.we had the same problem in the irish army with the new DPM uniform but eventually the pale colour was made it’s not only my army that buys crap (MOWAGS,NISSANS) and the soldiers suffer.


    The multicam design is superior from a visual perspective, this design will hide soldiers better than the pixelated bright “approved design” What are they trying to do kill more US soldiers?
    An interesting approach would be to create a hybrid of the two by re-dyeing the existing uniforms to better match the multicam perspective.
    From a digital graphic artist’s opinion, the logical approach is to deploy “area match” uniform printers that could have actual local flora, fauna, building patterns taken from local samples through digital means and printed on-site over existing patterns or on “pixelated uniform blanks” issued to new recruits who don’t receive actual deployment patterns until arriving onsite due to security surrounding active missions. Or better yet use chemically activated fast-fade inks that could be effectively washed out of uniforms so that new patterns could be assigned if needed.
    Using this method the soldiers could be assured the best possible protection and these patterns could be sprayed over entire suited individuals.
    keep up the good fight!

  • Brad

    they picked acus because they didn’t have to pay a pattent to use them (like they would for mulitcam). The “Best” option is to have two uniforms like the marines do. thier digital desert is superior to acu in the desert and their digital woodland (maybe minus the black) wipes the mat with the ACUs.
    anybody ever heard the saying that “One size fits all is one size fits none”.
    if we had to have a “universal” camo… mulitcam would be it. it is darker than the ACUs.

  • mike fernandez

    its funny how every thing in the middle east is tan every thing right down to the spot a pot ..and here comes the great us soldier in his army acu’s sticking out like a bullseye….thank you dept of the army for making it easier for the enemy to see us ….thanks

  • Karimah

    Good evening. If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
    I am from Grenada and too poorly know English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “Weft and purification should be achieved entirely.”
    With love :o, Karimah.

  • ben

    mine turned whit with correct care over in afghanistan everywhere i went i was seen everything except the acus could blend in at least a little but not the acu they are a horrible idea the layout of the uniform is nice but the pattern sux rather have the old ones and still be shinning boots rather than sticking out the army is suppose to be green umm where is it foliage green is gray if you believe thats green wrong answer!! if they dont go to the multican at least make the acu a little darker “green” no gray and some brown and i believe we would be set and collectively all soldiers not rear escelaun FU

    • Chris

      Those “rear echelon fucks” have to go out the wire to support your dumb ass. Should they wear business attire then?

  • BMFG

    OOH yeah they work soo great the only terrain i can achieve concealment is Clothing & Sales Clothing Rack

  • syco kid

    in reference to ACU. there is no part of this unifom that is functional it is 2009 wtf this is how we treat our soldiers… soldiers who work, fight, get wounded, or die. D.A. just wants us to look like dogs and ponies. everywhere i go the army seems to be more worried about how well we not how well we operate or how well our equiptment and uniforms operate. for the ones who decided to go with the ACU and not get rid of it allready, F. you go shoot yourself.



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  • SSS

    The ACU’s were a joke, without question and lives were lost over the reckless decision to field them. If you look at Multicam it is a better solution but not necessarily the answer. No one pattern will keep you concealed in all areas. Look at A-TACS
    A-TACS has a real solution to concealment and pushes even Multicam back a generation. US Army Sniper School, Recon and Surveillance Leader’s Course, and the Joint Special Operation Command has already ID’d this new camo system as the absolute BEST that’s out there Judge for yourself. I am just putting it out there.