June 30, 2011
116th BCT fields new multicam equipment, uniforms
By Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie
116th BCT Public Affairs
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. — Soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard are among the first to field the new Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern as they prepare for service in southern Afghanistan this summer.
Soldiers in the new MultiCam uniform discuss training while taking a break during the 116th Brigade Combat Team's Command Post Exercise at Camp Shelby, Miss., June 16. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie, 116th BCT Public Affairs)
Members of the Staunton-based Headquarters and Headquarters Company 116th Brigade Combat Team traded in their digital-patterned uniforms for the new camouflage pattern known as MultiCam. This new design is “21 percent less detectable than UCP,” the pattern used in the current Army uniform, said Army Col. Bill Cole, project manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment.
The new camouflage bested the existing digital pattern and 55 others in multiple Army tests, service officials said. It provided the best concealment during several tests in Afghanistan, and performs exceptionally well in the rugged terrain near the Pakistan border where members of the BCT will be serving.
“This is something I can use in a real-world setting,” said Pfc. Joshua Wright from Abingdon, Va. “I feel safer using them.”
Since only a small part of the eye recognizes color, the brain has to fill in the rest. The unique design of MultiCam uses this effect to cause the observer to see the pattern as part of the background.
The uniform is “a lot more combat effective because it actually camouflages,” said Spc. Ben Siebold from Severn, Md.
The new design reflects colors in the surrounding environment using a blend of seven shades of brown, tan and green, so the pattern appears green in a forest setting and tan in the desert. It blends in well with a wide variety of settings, elevations and weather conditions, making it ideal for use across Afghanistan’s multiple regions. Soldiers can patrol through deserts, urban areas, forests and mountains on a single mission.
The new camouflage bested the existing digital pattern and 55 others in multiple Army tests, service officials said. It provided the best concealment during several tests in Afghanistan, and performs exceptionally well in the rugged terrain near the Pakistan border where members of the BCT will be serving. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie, 116th BCT Public Affairs)
Driven largely by soldier input, upgrades have been made to improve the safety, comfort and functionality of the Army combat uniform and combat load. Changes include less Velcro, buttons on the cargo pockets, extended pockets and a stronger crotch. The uniform is also fire and insect resistant.
“I like some of the changes,” said Spc. Cody Ross from Blacksburg, Va. “Even just the small changes to make it a little more effective, like the bigger pen pockets to hold markers or highlighters.”
Some of the field gear the BCT will be wearing in theatre has also undergone some important changes. The newest design for the Generation 2 Improved Outer Tactical Vest includes 17 improvements over the Generation 1 vest, increasing the safety of soldiers deployed overseas.
“The IOTV is a great improvement over what we had,” said Wright. “Like the safety features – being able to get out of it quickly.”
Sgt. Rodney Woodson from New Kent, Va., agrees. “It offers more protection with the side plates and shoulder flaps,” he said.
The new vest features a removable yoke and collar, reversible and detachable side carriers and universal side pouch, and anchor points on the front and rear for items such as hydration systems and the Tactical Assault Panel. The new design also includes better adjustability in the shoulders and hips as well as adjustable side-plates.
These significant changes to the IOTV allow soldiers more maneuverability and flexibility while still maintaining effective protection.
But not everybody is happy with the changes.
“The old vest is more practical,” said Sgt. Deatrice Crawley from Lynchburg, Va. “It’s easier to get on. They should have stuck with the old method instead of over the head. The IOTV is inconvenient, especially for females.”
The new Danner boots are the least welcome change to the uniform.
“They don’t have much ankle support,” said Ross.
“I hate the Danner boots,” said Sgt. Aaron Stewart from Lexington, N.C. “They look like civilian shoes. They don’t go with the uniform, and they’re uncomfortable. They hurt.”
The new modifications to the uniforms and tactical gear that the BCT is fielding are only some of the changes Soldiers worldwide can expect to see in the future.