After being introduced in 2004 as the standard uniform for soldiers, the U.S. Army has decided to retire its Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). On Oct. 1, 2019, the Army announced that it would be switching to the traditional Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) featuring non-pixelated patterns of green and brown. To many soldiers, news of the Army’s decision to retire the UCP was a surprise. After all, the UCP has only been around for about about 15 years. But there’s a good reason why the Army is switching to the OCP.
What Is the UCP?
Also known as the Army Combat Uniform Pattern, the UCP is a military camouflage pattern developed by the U.S. Army. As shown in the image here, it’s characterized by a pixelated pattern, which is a direct variant of the Marine Corps’s MARPAT camouflage.
Creating the UCP wasn’t a cheap or easy process. Reports show the Army spent over $5 billion on the project. After extensive testing in the early 2000s, the Army selected the UCP as its uniform pattern, believing it would offer the highest level of concealment for soldiers on the battlefield.
Why the Army Has Decided to Retire the UCP
Given that the UCP project costs over $5 billion — combined with the fact that it’s a relatively new pattern — you might be wondering why the Army decided to retire the pattern. Well, the Army actually discontinued the UCP back in 2014. It’s just now, however, officially retiring the UCP in favor of the OCP.
When the UCP was initially rolled out in the mid-2000s, soldiers serving in Afghanistan begin questioning its effectiveness. Numerous reports emerged of soldiers claiming the UCP made them more visible, thus prompting a series of new studies by the Army to further investigate the UCP’s performance. In these studies, the Army found that the OCP offered better concealment for soldiers than the UCP. As a result, the Army stopped making uniforms with the UCP in 2014 and, instead, began focusing on uniforms with the OCP.
What Is the OCP?
With the UCP officially retired, the soldiers will now wear the OCP. Also known as its code name Scorpion W2, the OCP is a non-pixelated uniform pattern developed by the U.S. Army. According to the Army, the OCP offers better concealment than the UCP, presumably because of its non-pixelated pattern. Regardless, the Army says the UCP is now its official uniform pattern, replacing the short-lived UCP.