The head of U.S. Army Materiel Command said today that the service could start issuing its new MultiCam look-a-like camouflage uniforms as early as next year.
Gen. Dennis L. Via confirmed that the Army has adopted Scorpion W2 camouflage, a government-owned pattern that Army camouflage officials have altered to look nearly identical to the MultiCam pattern the service adopted for soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.
"I know the pattern, Scorpion 2, has been decided on," Via told reporters at a July 23 roundtable. He was not sure of the exact timeline, but said that process "I think is continuing on schedule."
"It seems to me that I thought  was going to be the timeline before it's going to be issued. That was the last update I've received on the uniform," he said.
The adoption of Scorpion is the latest development in the Army's exhaustive effort to replace the ineffective, three-color Universal Camouflage Pattern. Roughly a year ago, Army uniform officials completed a four-year camouflage improvement effort, but congressional pressure to do away with service-specific camouflage patterns slowed the effort's momentum.
Congressional language in both the House and Senate Armed Services committee versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2014 calls on the Pentagon to stop fielding service-specific camouflage patterns and instead develop a common pattern for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, by 2018. Both versions talk about prohibiting the adoption of individual military service camouflage uniforms except under specific, limited circumstances.
Via said he was not certain of efforts ongoing with the services, but said the Army has to continue to "work with the services to be sure we come up with a uniform that each service would be able to utilize based on the various missions across the board. As far as I understand it, that's the direction that we are moving forward on it."
Army officials wanted to replace UCP with Crye Precision's MultiCam -- a pattern that has demonstrated consistent performance in multiple tests and was selected in 2010 as the Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP, for soldiers to wear in Afghanistan. However, problems emerged with price negotiations and the Army chose the Scorpion pattern, which was actually designed by Crye Precision under a government contract in 2002.
The company's owner, Caleb Crye, then improved the pattern, making it more effective and trademarked it as MultiCam.
The new Scorpion W2's resemblance to MultiCam may work to the Army's advantage since the service has spent nearly $3 billion on uniforms and equipment patterned in OCP for Afghanistan, a source told Military.com.
But it's still unclear if the Scorpion W2's similarity to MuliCam will create future legal challenges for the Army.
"I'm aware of the issue, but I'm not exactly certain how we will deal with that," Via said.
-- Managing Editor Michael Hoffman contributed to this report.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org