The British armed forces, in a bid to stop criticism regarding uniforms supplied to troops in combat, have introduced a new field camouflage pattern intended to be suitable for use in both desert and vegetated terrain. British soldiers model the new MTP (left and right) and existing desert kit (centre). Credit: British Army A …
An unusually balanced piece there from Lewis.
I am surprised though that there was no mention of the biggest problem, which is that soldiers on active duty do not look like the three off-duty models in the first photo - Infantry typically go out wearing so much strap-on kit that the actual uniform is almost invisible: how often do we see photos of them in nice sandy brown, covered in solid green straps, bergens and rifle stocks/butts?
Apparently the MoD have secured IP rights
Which will nicely prevent other manufacturers turing out variations that individual soldiers might use in preference to official issue. Shame really. I've no view either way on the pattern but lots of the troops might supplement it with say a fleece (which until a few years ago weren't generally issued) or something else in some climates but want it to (dis)appear the same as the issued kit they'd otherwise be wearing.
how close is it to multicam?
I have a very large, fleece, multicam jacket. In fact there is a lot of multicam stuff available for sale. Official crye stuff as well as unnofficial close, but not quite multicam, knockoffs. If it's close enough to MTP too, then i'm pretty sure that will be used to supplement the kit.
The reason for the IP rights control is not to stop UK troops from buying their own kit, it's to stop some of the cheap, nasty kit that gets produced by less than reputable companies. This cheap kit usually doesn't meet the NATO IRR specs, meaning that you literally glow in the dark, when seen through night vision optics.
Commercial producers have been involved in the procurement process from the start and will be granted licence to produce good quality gear that meets the correct specs.
Multicam IS a knockoff
The U.S. Army magazine "Stars and Stripes" reported:
"As part of the effort to find the right camouflage, the 4th ID’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment is wearing a pattern called “MultiCam,” which is popular with recreational paintball players and some Special Forces troops. "
So the UK can't claim copyright only that it copied another product. Typical Brown solution.
I thought that was a well balanced article, informative and well written.
A squaddie's view
Stuff MTL or whatever it's called. Get Our Boys this stuff instead!
It's just like the camo used by the Aussies, and loads better than the yank blue-pixelated crap.
Yes, the Australian Army are now wearing invisiblity cloaks, and it's pretty impressive. Last time I was in the outback I drove for thousands of miles and didn't see anyone. Incredible.
I'm guessing there's a shortage of kit though - in the cities they've only issued it to attractive women.
I sense the birth of a new excuse for Pom batsmen ...
Yeah, we know, title is required...
Can't you show us some pictures of the guys in camoflage, so we can judge for ourselves???
Yeah, the camo one...
Am I alone in thinking that in this modern fast moving IT Driven world we should be able to have any number of template camouflage kits ready to go that would be perfect for the country these guys and gals are heading for? Given the quantity they're ordering of uniforms when it comes to dispatch day it shouldn't cost all that much should it? (Given we're talking about lives here)
This is government we're talking about. Compare ``e-borders'': Instead of making checks simpler, faster, clearer, the burden is pushed onto the would-be traveler to push red tape days in advance. Call it the ``soviet technology upgrade'' to Britain. The US is doing the same thing, only more elaborate, more red tape, much more expensive, and involving even more technology. Or compare any old EDS contract, and then there's this computers for the NHS scheme, and....
Every single ``upgrade'', every ``improvement'' incurs more costs, both up front and running, takes more time, adds more complexity, and sees a downgrade in service levels. What makes you think ``providing kit to soldiers'' is any less complicated? Carry on government.
@The First Dave
The thing is though, the whole point of camouflage patterns is to break up the shape, rather than make you blend in, so you don't look like a person. Straps and slings etc don't really affect that much.
Plus of course anywhere other than the desert you'd usually have that kind of thing hidden under local flora anyway ;)
Do i think this new camo will work?
I can't see it myself.
Back to basics
Scrap all this tripe and bring back bright red jackets with gold trim.
Looks pretty damn good
there's a few 'spot the soldier' shots here:
I'm glad that you referenced the fact that US special forces are using this gear in preference to the issue stuff. In general (and in my military experience), because special forces are given great latitude in kit selection, they generally tend to have best of breed equipment. Which is one of the reasons that through the 90s, the British special forces would usually equip themselves with M16s (with or without M203 grenade launcher) in preference to the SA80 which was known to jam too often. I've heard a lot of good feedback on the H&K SA80 redesign, but I'm not sure whether the special forces have switched yet. The fact that US special forces use this type of gear means we almost certainly have best of breed.
I never worried that much about getting my own gear for things, what always bugged me the most was when you couldn't get kit that was supposed to be issued. The obvious examples were desert boots and desert combats. You don't mention that because the woodland DPM is so dark, in true desert conditions it tends to be way too hot.
Great article - and you didn't bash the RAF once :)
Re: Special Forces
I strongly suspect that the UK special forces will NEVER carry the SA80, as we're the only army using it.
Wouldnt look too good to be photographed/caught with one of them, whereas you can maintain any cover story you like if you're toting an M16/M203, it could have come from any western country/military.
There are no straight lines in nature.
I never could remember all seven Esses, but the first three are always listed as:
and lastly, Movement. (No S but that's what I was taught when I was a grunt.) Some fieldcraft instructors insist on Sudden Movement, but the two-word thing is just confusing, innit.
Like most kit supplied by the MOD these days
the camouflage used is utterly brilliant. Take dozens of our helicopters - the camouflage is so good that nobody can find the blinkin things!
camo is pointless
Everyone knows the best soldiers go naked from the waist up, with a red bandana round their head.
Guess who used this first?
Multicam is the camouflage clothing used by those characters who roam woodlands on weekends shooting each other with paint balls.
The Americans simply copied it.
I guess the British Army will let a contract to the Chinese as they have with other military clothing. This assumes that the Chinese will not copy it and use it for their army.
What a screwed up lot at the ex-War Department.
When I was in the Army Signals ...
we simply affixed the nearest bushes and plants to our uniforms ro blend in.
I guess that's not high tech enough and not enough in it to pay off contractors.
Seems like a good idea but will they issue them in just one weight of cloth.
Too warm for the desert, to cold for Europe in the winter.
Thanks for this article. It's rare to read something as balanced as this about our Forces - the media generally seems intent on having a go at every decision the MoD makes when usually it's the government not providing us enough money!
By the way, I don't claim we always get it right, but *usually* the decision we make is the 'least bad.'
Country specific cammo gear..
"we should be able to have any number of template camouflage kits ready to go that would be perfect for the country these guys and gals are heading for"
Presumably when they come home they'll be wearing material covered in a variety of empty fast food containers, pavement pizzas, and topped off with bubblegum and fag ends.
i wonder how much carbon the clothing factories in China will produce
Since China are to blame for all of the worlds carbon (if you read the Guardian) and have refused to reduce it, is it ethical to have them make all of our clothing ?
I kind of like the new pattern, bit sad to see woodland DPM disappear though as it is very very good.
Still though, there will be a huge influx to to the market for DPM kit now, should drive the prices down.
That helmet looked really heavy
Back in the day all it needed to carry was a pack of smokes and peace simple.
You know what video's in my pocket.
Here's a pic of UK SF trialling the new camo
"I've heard a lot of good feedback on the H&K SA80 redesign"
Here's a pic UK special forces trialling the new camo and they have the redesigned SA-80's
All well and good
until we invade Mars, then the whole debacle starts again.
Missing some important info
While everyone is lauding the decision to supply the new pattern material, there is a major problem which has not been noted
Existing uniform material is - in the main - pure woven cotton or cotton gabardine.
The new pattern material is a polyester cotton blend.
In a fire, cotton just chars and turns to carbon. If ti does burn, it burns slowly
Polycotton blends, melt and drip into a very hot sticky burning goo. They effectively glue themselves to the wearer and can cause horrific burns.
I've seen the results of fires in laboratories where the workers were wearing polycotton trousers and overalls, and the results are really not nice - 40% 3rd degree burrs in one case
From what I've been told by an associate who is in the business of making personalised camo gear, the main driver here is cost. The new material is polycotton (immediate cost reduction) made in China (another major cost reduction) and easy to wash/dry
However all that comes with the following problems
Fire risk (as stated above)
Wearability in hot conditions
Static electricity (which can cause havoc with electronics)
Theres also a question of long-tern effectiveness of the waterproofing given the supposed east washability of the new kit
good for them
Now if we can just get MultiCam issued to the US Army. MultiCam is loads better than any other viable alternative and more than loads better than the ACU/UCP stuff the US Army wears.
Good on the British Army for beating the US Army and not taking years to figure it out. You got it right the first time.
One good side effect of the MTP for the British Army. Since it is basically a version of MultiCam, all the good MultiCam kit should work fine with it -- fleeces, combat jackets, slings, web gear, etc etc etc.
Camouflage disrupts perspective
The military problems with a camo uniform are that it needs to be standardized to avoid having to issue a dozen kits, and it needs to be cheap to produce. One of the arguments against Multicam is that it takes 7 colors to print. However, the US Army UCP and the USAF ABU patterns are utter crap, and INCREASE visibility, though the ABU is fairly decent if you're actually ON the flightline. It's no good for engineer, security or other support troops, though.
The argument that Multicam was used recreationally before military adoption is, ironically, the argument of an armchair commando who isn't aware that trials and adoption take time, and that getting the product out on display helps marketing and development.
As a 24 year veteran (US Army, USAF), consultant, product tester, and writer, I consider Multicam one of the best patterns available in the context of a standard issue, mass-produced military pattern. ASAT is another excellent one.
The cotton vs poly blend problem is based on the nancies in HQ who want the troops to not have wrinkles or creases, vs warriors who want a uniform that doesn't melt.
Amen to non-melting uniforms.
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