Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The US Army’s Universal Camouflage Uniform: Useless in Afghanistan and in Airsoft?

Also known as the Advanced Combat Uniform, is the US Army’s Advanced Combat Uniform utterly useless as a primary camouflage battle dress uniform in the Afghan war theatre?

By: Ringo Bones

I’ve seen a growing number of Airsoft teams over the years adopting the US Army’s Universal Camouflage Uniform – also known as the Advanced Combat Uniform or ACU  – as their primary battle dress uniform for Airsoft gaming. But have they ever heard of the news that the ACU is utterly useless in the battle theatres of Afghanistan?

After 8 years and billions of dollars spent, the US Army back in June 2012 has just given up on an ambitious effort to clothe all of its frontline infantry soldiers in Afghanistan on the “universal camouflage pattern” even though it served them well in the urban combat theatres of Iraq since Operation Iraqi Freedom back in March 2003. According to frontline infantrymen who are recently and some who are still currently serving in Afghanistan, the Afghan terrain is primarily brown in hue and there is no brown whatsoever in the Advanced Combat Uniform (ACU) design.

Even though the ACU’s fractal geometry-based pattern looks very futuristic and very 21st Century, I’ve seen it used as the cover art in various Gene Roddenberry novelizations on “futuristic” Sino-Indian War scenarios as far back as 1987. And the design might have been originally conceived on a mid-1980s era Cray YXP supercomputer inspired when IBM researcher Benoit B. Mandelbrot published The Fractal Geometry of Nature back in 1983. Given that the geometric structure of vegetation and rocks/geologic formations always seems to follow Mandelbrot’s fractal geometry - then it is safe to assume that the US Army’s newfangled Advanced Combat Uniform would perfectly blend in any “natural fractally-pattered environment”, right?

Sadly, this is where theoretical design needs some more tweaking for it to work in the real world of Mother Nature. US Army infantrymen serving in Afghanistan had cited that in their own first-hand experience, the ACU made them stand out in the background terrain of the Afghan war theatre – as in they are using a “clown-suit” as a battle dress uniform. And in my experience, the US Army’s Universal Camouflage Uniform / ACU in Airsoft gaming situations only works when your game-site is an urban one. Must be the reason why the ACU battle dress uniform pattern sells like hotcakes for Airsoft enthusiasts living in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.