WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 30, 2009) - Two new Army Combat Uniform camouflage patterns - MultiCam; and the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP-Delta) - are being tested by two battalions in Afghanistan.

The camouflage patterns are being tested to determine what might provide the best concealment to Soldiers operating in a unique mountain, desert and woodlands environment.

One battalion is receiving uniforms in MultiCam, a pattern worn by some Special Forces troops, while the other battalion is receiving uniforms in Universal Camouflage Pattern - Delta, a variant of the current ACU camouflage pattern that incorporates the coyote brown color and reduces the percentages of sand and gray colors. The battalions also will retain their standard ACUs.

"We already have extensive data on the performance of various camouflage patterns in particular environments, but we need to keep building the science for Operation Enduring Freedom," said Brig. Gen. Peter N. Fuller, who oversees Program Executive Office Soldier. "For example, we need more information on how the uniform camouflage blends with the Soldier's combat equipment in specific environments."

While the issue of camouflage patterns has recently been in the news, the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center has studied and reported on the effectiveness of different camouflage patterns for many years.

A team has deployed to Afghanistan to collect data in the various environments, outside the forward operating bases. The team includes representatives from PEOffice Soldier, Army G-4, U.S. Army Infantry Center, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the Asymmetric Warfare Group, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and NSRDEC.

Feedback from the two battalions, as well as results of additional tests being conducted by NSRDEC on multiple camouflage patterns, are expected to be presented to Army leadership in early 2010.

Since the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform in 2004 the service has made more than 25 improvements to the ACU and its associated equipment based on what Soldiers have to say.

Improvements since 2004 include a reinforced seat, buttons on the cargo pockets, and better attachment of the infrared tab. This improvement process is ongoing, as Soldiers keep suggesting new ways to adapt the uniform to their needs.