This is more of a question for the war vets on here. Is the digital camo fatigues the army uses now an improvement? I heard that it breaks the outline better, but the one-pattern-fits all principle (except for the desert) makes it stick out more. Is there really only one pattern? Is it better than the splotches or tiger stripes?
WTF are you asking about? The Digicamo pattern? The colors? The Army's shitty ACU's?
Wrote this up as a reply on another post:
You'd be wrong. Here's a brief history of Army ACU's:
The Marines spent a few hundred thousand dollars testing over two dozen camoflauge patterns and materials, utilizing scientists in conjunction with Scout Snipers, and finally decided on a pattern closely resembling CADPAT developed by the Canadians for NATO. The Marines tweaked the colors a little bit and stamped the EGA on it then issued two different color patterns; desert and green.
The Army saw it and said, "ZOMGWTFBBQ!11!!111! I CAN HAZ NAO????"
And the Marines responded with, "See this here EGA? Copyright bitches."
So the Army answered by spending several million dollars to study less than half a dozen patterns, ultimately deciding to choose a pattern which wasn't used in the testing, the Marine's. Which they then recolored and issued with a few more pockets, which soldiers use for the most idiotic purposes.
Once the Army fielded the new ACU grays greens they realized it doesn't work anywhere, and promptly issued the pattern used by Special Forces to everyone who was going anywhere not the PX.
So now that the history of the Army's idiotic ACUs are out of the way, here's more:
I joined the Marines in 2002, my boot camp company was the first on the West Coast to receive the digicammies. We did a bunch of comparison tests out in the field during MCT and my MOS school in Florida, because there was still a lot of the old cammie uniforms in use. Based on observations, the new digi pattern blows the old one away.
So some camouflage pattern theory: Tiger Stripe (tigers) forces your eyes to "slip" past the object covered in it. Mottled (giraffs) breaks up the outlines. Spotted (baby deer), acts similar to mottled, on a smaller scale/closer up. What the digital patterning does is combine the spotted with the mottled, and in the case of the AF ABU Tiger Stripe as well. They're all rather environmentally dependent, but the digi pattern work well as a general camouflage pattern. Environment specific (MossyOak etc) camo patterns, while highly effective, would be too specific for the military to field.
As David K pointed out, it works well under night vision, and combined with low UV/IR reflective dies and detergents, work extremely well. Anecdotally, in the early days of Iraq, we would "lose" our guys under night vision. It worked so well it became a hazard, now we have IR patches.
So to answer your question, the digi pattern is an improvement over the old mottled BDUs. The Army colors are not.
If you think the ACU's are idiotic, take a look at the AF ABU's. The camo is just as useless, but someone had the brilliant idea of using buttons everywhere on them. Fucking. Buttons. Your torso pockets are useless to begin with and you can't use any of your leg pockets quickly or even get your fly open without having to undo and redo a bunch of buttons. Stupid things are designed for office work, not being deployed. Probably why the PJ's and forward air controllers don't use them.
Then they decided to make the first generation all winter weight when we've got guys deployed in Iraq that are required to wear them. I got my issued in 2010 and it wasn't until this year that a lightweight version for hot weather was issued.
Yeah. Everyone kinda jumped on it stupidly.
Both the Air Force ABU's and the Army ACU's come in a single color digital camo pattern. And frankly, unless your laying on a pile of gravel, they don't do much to help you blend in. The Marines MARPAT fatigues are digital and have different colors for woodlands, desert, and snow, so they're a bit more practical.
The digital camo does have fewer hard lines when viewed from a distance so in that respect it does work better than the splotch-style BDU's that were used before it. But the big improvement is in blending in under night vision goggles. The black areas on the old BDU's made it look like you were covered in spots when you look at it through NVG's. If you look at the new digital camo, there's no black areas so you just look like a grey, blurry blob from a distance, far better for blending in at night.
But, all the services are probably going to be switching to using the same camo system, called MultiCam, that's in use by the special forces in Afghanistan now.
That's stupid. Why would they used camouflage with green in it in Afghanistan? The best way of doing it in my opinion would be on for desert, woodland, snow, and night ops/urban.
Afghanistan is green?
The only green part of trashcanistan would be the Marines stationed there.
Or the Helmand River valley. Or a few provinces the Army had control over (everywhere other than the Helmand). Or, springtime.
The geographical terrain is much like the Rocky Mountain West. Sure there's a lot of desert, but plenty of green too. Just so happens the Marines didn't see any of it, and desert tan seems to blend in well with green.
The multicam I saw on Google has green in it, so I guess so.