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What is the history of U.S. camouflage?

DATE: Mar 29th, 2023

In 2005, the U.S. Army rolled out the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) for the newly redesigned Army Combat Uniform (ACU) to replace the Woodland Battle Dress UniformDesert Battle Dress Uniform, and the Desert Camouflage Uniform. UCP is the "digital" camouflage pattern which the Army issued until the official rollout of the newly adopted OCP uniforms began in 2014.

In 2010, soldiers being deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom began receiving uniform items in the MultiCam pattern to replace UCP due to UCP's poor performance in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan. MultiCam had been officially designated Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OEF-CP), but was never considered a "clothing bag" issue item. The OEF-CP combat uniforms issued to deploying soldiers were the same Army Combat Uniform cut as the UCP ACUs, easily identifiable by the Mandarin collar, which could be worn up when wearing body armor to protect the soldier's neck from discomfort.

MultiCam was developed by Crye Precision in conjunction with the United States Army Soldier Systems Center in an effort to replace the Woodland and Desert patterns that had been used by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces since 1981. During the fielding and testing process, MultiCam was used by U.S. Army Special Forces, and continued use into the mid 2000's. In 2004, however, the Army opted for the newly designed Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) over MultiCam.


In 2010 the U.S. Army began testing new patterns to officially replace UCP as the standard camouflage pattern. Originally developed by Crye Precision (the owner of the MultiCam camouflage pattern) in 2002 as Scorpion, the U.S. Army had made modifications to the pattern and renamed it Scorpion W2, and because of licensing and cost concerns, chose their in-house modified version over the Cry Precision MultiCam pattern.

In 2015 the U.S. Army released the updated Army Combat Uniform in the newly adopted OCP Scorpion W2 camouflage pattern, and began issuing them to soldiers deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq, then to new servicemembers entering Basic Training. It wasn't until January of 2021 that the Army issued the updated AR 670-1 and DA PAM 670-1 to include new ACU and IHWCU requirements, phasing out all prior uniforms and patterns.

The only authorized camouflage pattern for all U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force utility uniforms is the Operational Camouflage Pattern Scorpion W2, or OCP.

What's the difference between OCP Scorpion W2 and MultiCam?

OCP and MultiCam appear to be very similar; both start with a background of greenish-tan superimposed with brown and green fields, and blobs of dark brown and light beige scattered across the pattern to break up the eye lines. But when compared side-by-side, some differences emerge. OCP has larger blobs and is generally a horizontal pattern, with the fields and blobs stretching east to west. MultiCam, on the other hand, has smaller blobs speckled in bunches, with distinctive vertical slashes of dark brown and light beige. Both use seven distinctive hues, but the color palettes are slightly varied between the two patterns.