The U.S. Army recently announced the adoption of the Operational Camouflage Pattern, which was initially procured using Crye Precision’s MultiCam pattern in 2010 for specialized use in Afghanistan.
In early October, the 75th Ranger Regiment began the Army’s full transition.
The rest of the Army will start wearing OCP over the next few months, with the entire Army — including National Guard and Reserve — fully adopting OCP by Fall 2018. Additionally, Air Force personnel deploying to combat zones will also use the Army’s OCP clothing and equipment for interoperability. As of this writing there are no plans for the Navy or Marine Corps to adopt OCP.
What is confusing for many who have seen the camouflage, is that OCP is currently made of two similar yet distinct patterns. The Army introduced a new version of the pattern, designated Scorpion W2, that is starting to be procured. The Scorpion W2 variant is only slightly different from the current Crye Precision MultiCam pattern that has long been referred to as OCP. From a distance, Scorpion W2 and MultiCam are all but indistinguishable.
Don’t let there be any confusion: The U.S. Army considers both OCP. I’ll say this again: The U.S. Army considers both Scorpion W2 and MultiCam OCP. If you’ve got MultiCam products, you should begin to refer to this stock as OCP as well. The Army doesn’t differentiate and neither should you.
Swapping camouflage patterns for an entire service is no small matter. In preparation for the transition, the U.S. Army categorized all of its soldier equipment into three tiers. The tier one items are issued in the soldier’s clothing bag at Basic Combat Training and must be maintained by all soldiers throughout their career. Since every soldier will wear these items, they are transitioning these first. The other items will take some time.
According to the Army, due to varying periods of wear-out for different items, the complete transition to OCP might take up to eight years. That means almost a decade of soldiers using a combination of the current universal camouflage pattern and both OCP variants (Scorpion W2 and MultiCam).
Having invested billions of dollars in the procurement of UCP equipment, the Army naturally has a plan to keep it in service for as long as possible. As a stopgap measure, they are overdyeing the gear in a Coyote Brown color to prolong its usefulness. The jury is still out on how effective this will be and how it will be accepted in the field.
This process will result in an increase of green UCP items available as surplus through the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office as they are inspected prior to the dyeing. Additionally, as time moves on, you will begin to see these over-dyed items become available through DRMO.
In addition to the transition from the grey-green, pixelated UCP as their day-to-day wear, the Army Combat Uniform will also receive a few updates, including different shoulder pockets. These will be available for sale to service members at on-post Military Clothing Sales stores starting in the summer. Eventually, these will become available commercially through various vendors.
Once available for sale, the Army anticipates a huge demand for these new OCP versions of the ACU. This will also mean heavy demand for those items that are not yet available through the Army’s supply chain, but which are offered commercially in OCP, such as load-carrying items and shelters.
For many years, the Army will be outfitted in clothing and equipment in both Scorpion W2 and MultiCam versions of OCP. What this means for you is that you can begin to market the commercial MultiCam items you already sell as OCP. Soldiers are already becoming acquainted with the term as it becomes more prevalent, and consumers will also begin to look for items in OCP.
As I explained earlier, both Scorpion W2 and MultiCam camouflage patterns meet that description. Once items in the Scorpion W2 variant of OCP become available, it would be wise to once again differentiate which version of OCP you have. But until then I encourage you to capitalize on the Army’s own ambiguity.
Currently, the Army continues to procure tier two and three equipment in MultiCam, such as packs, plate carriers and MOLLE equipment. These are commodity items that you probably already carry in your store, and customers are already looking for these items in OCP. Eventually, government procurement of these items will convert to Scorpion W2 once sufficient supplies of the proper materials are available.
So you should anticipate increased demand for OCP individual equipment as the Army begins to allow all soldiers to wear and use OCP. Demand by military customers will increase with the issue of the brown over-dyed pixelated UCP equipment, which won’t match well with the natural shapes of the Operational Camouflage Pattern.
In addition to clothing and individual equipment in a new camouflage pattern, the Army will also be issuing associated ancillary items such as a new boot color, a new solid shade of undergarments, belts and other items. Keep a lookout for these items as well, since costumers who want to adopt the new OCP version of the ACU will also want to purchase the proper accoutrements for the full look.
All in all you can capitalize on the Army’s camouflage change by marketing existing products in a new way and introducing new products as they become available. Additionally, surplus dealers will start to see a lot of new items as the Pentagon sheds its old colors.
Eric Graves is the editor of leading tactical equipment blog Soldier Systems Daily and is a former Air Force acquisition officer.