MultiCam® is a camouflage pattern that gives superior concealment in varied environments, seasons, elevations, and light conditions. Older patterns, such as Woodland, Desert, or Universal, were not as effective based on testing and experience. Since the use of different patterns for different conditions is impractical for the military, MultiCam® was developed as a broad solution. Although available commercially for several years, the U.S. Army's first authorized use of MultiCam® occurred in 2010 with new ACUs and equipment for troops deploying to Afghanistan.
SPC Eddie L. Williams (Fort Belvoir, VA) wears the MultiCam® Army Combat Uniform, issued to Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan beginning in July 2010.
Development of MultiCam®
MultiCam® clad soldier in the brush. Photo: multicampattern.com.
When U.S. forces entered Afghanistan in the early 2000s, the desert and woodland pattern uniforms available did not function well as camouflage in the Afghan environment. Crye Associates (Brooklyn, NY), working with U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center, Natick, MA, set out to develop an upgraded camouflage system for clothing and gear based on the most advanced knowledge of how human vision works coupled with new investigations of practical, field experience in widely varying terrain and light conditions.
This work led to the patented MultiCam® system, but did not immediately win U.S. approval. Instead, the Army chose the Universal Camouflage Pattern for its Army Combat Uniform (ACU), initially fielded in 2004. Many military professionals saw clear advantages with MultiCam®. It began to be purchased by Special Forces and other specialized units, as well as the British and other military organizations outside the U.S. Finally, in 2010, the U.S. Army recognized the superiority of MultiCam® and began to phase it in as the pattern for the ACU and other Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) and body armor that a Soldier would normally receive in the Universal Camouflage Pattern, such as the helmet cover, Improved Outer Tactical Vest, and a complete set of Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE). Initially MultiCam® ACUs were only approved for troops deploying to Afghanistan, with planned expansion from there.
In late May 2014, the Army selected Scorpion, a pattern similar to MultiCam®, to replace Universal Camouflage Pattern for the Army Combat Uniform. Scorpion has been owned by the Army since 2002, when it was acquired from Crye Associates as part of the Objective Force Warrior program. Scorpion was selected after Army attempts to buy the rights to MultiCam® were unsuccessful.
How Does MultiCam® Work?
The MultiCam® pattern is a combination of seven different shades of green, brown and beige designed to represent naturally occurring colors in a wide range of settings. The pattern blends in by reflecting some of the colors of the surrounding environment, appearing green in a vegetated area, brown against earth, or tan in the desert. This chameleon-like ability is rooted in the way the human eye interprets reflected light and does not involve changes in the MultiCam® material itself. Similarly, the brain is fooled about the size and shape of MultiCam® covered soldiers or objects, helping to merge with the background and making it hard for an observer to see the difference between a figure and its surroundings. This approach works across a wide range of distances, light conditions and terrain.
MultiCam® fabric as used in ACUs.
uniforms and equipment are available through Amazon.com at the link.
The MultiCam® camouflage system is patented and MultiCam is a registered trademark of Crye Precision LLC.
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