“Syrian” camouflage and the US Army?

A day on the internet is a very long time… and what a difference a day can make!

Yesterday, a story appeared on the Army Times online (which I posted and commented on) in which mention was made of a “Syrian” camouflage uniform having been tested by the US Army in trials against UCP (aka, ACU camo).  Apparently some people were incensed that a Syrian camo uniform was better than American one – whilst others (myself included) thought that it must have been a typographical or geographical error and that the uniform in question was in fact Jordanian.

Well, thanks to further research by Soldier Systems Daily it turns out to be neither.  Soldier Systems obtained a copy of the 2007 Natick report, and it definitely states that the pattern is “Syrian”.  However, no evidence or proof of the uniform’s origin has surfaced so far – and experts have stated that it is not in fact a uniform generally issued, or known to have been used, by the Syrian Armed Forces.  There is evidence however that a similar uniform has been used by Libya.  (Libya – haven’t we heard enough about them recently?)  The report has also confirmed that there is no chance of this uniform or camouflage pattern ever being used by the US Army – it was just included in the tests as one of a number of foreign benchmarks.


Whatever the actual origin or useage of the uniform in question, one thing is absolutely clear – it is a derivative of the pattern first issued to the West German Bundesgrenzschutz (Border Protection) Police in the 1950’s. 

german BGS combat jacket

And this pattern is itself a derivative of the Sumpfmuster (“Marsh Pattern” – also commonly referred to by American collectors as Tan-and-Water pattern for some unknown reason) camouflage first issued to the German Wehrmacht in 1943(!). 

Reproduction M43 Sumpfmuster Panzerhose 

So there you go – an “analogue” camouflage pattern designed and issued over 65 years ago has been proven to be more effective than the US Army’s latest, high-speed, low-drag, ultra-modern digital camouflage. Whoever decided to push UCP onto the Army should just walk off now into the tree line with a bottle of whisky and a loaded revolver…

However, as they say on the cheesy gadget infomercials, “But wait, there’s more!”  Four other patterns also consistently out-performed UCP in this set of tests; Desert MARPAT, Desert Brush, MultiCam and Natural Gear (which we’ve seen before).  Now, what’s interesting about this is that two desert-specific patterns performed better in woodland environments than UCP did – and also that a civilian hunting pattern even performed better than UCP!  That MultiCam outperformed it comes as no surprise.  Also, since Desert Brush was the winning pattern in the Army’s 2003-2004 Universal Camo trials, it comes as no surprise that it beat UCP as well.

What is surprising is the fact that the US Army has obviously known for some time that UCP does not work – but they still went on spending loads of money rolling-out UCP on every new piece of clothing and equipment. 

But before the Brits start to feel too smug about all of this, it turns out that woodland DPM didn’t do well in the tests either…  Read the full story on Soldier Systems.

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