in use of digitally-designed 'cammies'
By Sandra Jontz
They might be the few and the proud, but the U.S. Marine Corps isnt alone in
its trailblazing effort to make a distinctively flashy fashion statement.
Canadian army was there first.
Corps just started field-testing the computer-generated, digitally dappled
"cammies," or camouflage uniforms, while the Canadian forces began field-testing
them in 1995.
the Canadian army has been researching the feasibility of digitally designed uniforms and
collecting data since 1988, said Canadian Lt. Col. Jacques Levesque, project manager for
the Clothe solider program.
at the leading edge of this," he said.
Corps pixilated uniform and the "new Canadian disruptive pattern," or
CADPAT, are designed to blend better with surroundings, while standing out among other
is working out very well," Levesque said. "In the past, the armies of the world
have always been about fashion statements, among other things."
research proves the pixilated uniforms hide soldiers better, he said. For example, between
two soldiers standing side-by-side, one clad in the digitally designed uniform and the
other in the traditional battle dress uniform, there is a 40 percent less chance of being
detected from 200 meters away in the improved version, he said.
theres an entire science behind the production of the uniforms. Different fabrics
absorb dyes differently, and the Canadian army has spent five years working with companies
to perfect the mix to render the best pattern.
like cooking a soup," Levesque said. "You add a little of this and a little more
of that and cook it for different lengths of time."
Canadian government holds the copyright to the digital pattern and the Danish company
DADCON owns the algorithms and digital analysis that make up the patterns.
officials shared some of its information and manufacturers with the Marine Corps, but the
Canadian design cannot be duplicated because of copyright laws.
Corps solicited bids from vendors and received more than 100 submissions, Marine spokesman
Capt. Pete Mitchell said.
Research Labs in Natick, Mass., created the design prototype and American Power Source of
Massachusetts was awarded the contract to manufacture 340 uniforms the Corps is using in
field tests, said Carlos Patricio, production manager for American Power Source in Fall
experienced "a certain level of difficulty" in producing the uniforms because of
the complexity of the design, but managed it, he said.
Power Source anticipates being one of several companies to bid for future business, he
not elaborate on the companys role because of a confidentiality agreement signed
with the Marine Corps, he said.
Commandant Gen. James Jones wanted his service to find new uniforms that would stand out
when compared with those worn by the Army, Navy or Air Force. Yet, the uniforms also had
to fulfill its original intent of camouflaging a Marine in combat.
guise serves both purposes, Mitchell said.
and Canadian uniforms are similar, but nowhere near the same, Mitchell said.
vendor] presented us something unique and interesting and what they presented to us was
modified and matriculated over time to what it has become," Mitchell said. "We
are enlarging the pattern and instituting a unique color scheme. The end result is
something unique to the Marines."
By mid- to
late summer, the Corps plans to issue the new uniforms, costing $45 to $50 apiece, to
recruits and Marines entering Officer Candidate School. Right now, Marines in Okinawa,
Japan, and Camp Pendleton, Calif., are field-testing the woodland green uniforms, and
those at Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., have the brown desert ones.
the scout sniper school along with camouflage laboratory technicians, others with
camouflage expertise and roughly 36,000 people who responded to an online survey helped
develop the pixilated pattern, Mitchell said.
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