Army OCP “Scorpion”

Scorpion TestingAlthough the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) required the Department of Defense to choose a single camouflage pattern to span all branches of the military, the hunt for the ideal camo has been going on far longer. And though some believe the search reaches back to 2010’s Camouflage Improvement Effort (CIE) – which was the Army’s competition meant to result in the selection of a new pattern – this journey has actually stretched out for more than a decade. In 2004, as the Iraq war ramped up, the Army adopted a new Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP): Digital camouflage. The UCP cost more than $5 billion to create, was not properly tested, and failed to do its job in a variety of environments. After the price tag was revealed to the public, a single anonymous statement was made claiming the creation of the pattern as actually in the millions, not billions, and the inflated cost made public included uniforms purchased to date as opposed to pattern creation alone. Regardless, the creation and immediate issue of UCP wasn’t only a failure in monetary costs; it would not be a stretch to say the unpopular pixelated pattern cost American lives.

The Army announced they’d made their selection on July 31, 2014: a new Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP), known as Scorpion W2. The new OCP is a vast improvement over the old UCP, but there has been some debate regarding its resemblance to what will soon be the former OCP, Multicam. Those debates have also led to speculation of why the Army didn’t simply go with Multicam. And, of course, there are questions being raised regarding how these changes will affect the rest of the military’s uniform. Consider this your USPT Guide to Scorpion W2.

What is Scorpion W2?

Multicam on left, Scorpion in center, UCP on right

Multicam on left, Scorpion in center, UCP on right

Scorpion W2 can trace its roots to 2002, when Crye Precision created the original version. The first Scorpion was created by Crye as part of the Objective Force Warrior (OFW) program of 1999. OFW was simply a newer incarnation of older programs and the precursor to the Future Force Warrior (FFW) program. Crye created a number of clothing and armor components during OFW; really, the company carried the program on its back. And when it came to patterns, Scorpion was a standout, one resulting in a number of variations including Multicam, which the Army adopted as its new OCP in 2009. So why didn’t the Army go with Multicam for its new all-encompassing uniform pattern?

When the aforementioned CIE was reported to have resulted in a winning pattern in 2012, but the year came and went without results, Congress got involved in pushing the Department of Defense to choose a pattern. Significant amounts of money had been poured into camouflage, and the indecision needed to come to an end. So when Congress passed the 2014 NDAA, requiring a new pattern be chosen – and fully implemented across the board by 2018 – the Army did, indeed, go after Multicam. In fact, the language of the act made it clear Congress feels the proliferation and fuss over various camouflage patterns for different branches of the military is more about specific branding than actual concealment. Furthermore, the language of the 2015 NDAA has kept this provision in place, preventing various branches from future “branding” of themselves with unique patterns.

MulticamMulticam couldn’t be the easy answer, because it is owned by Crye, with all the related fees and royalties. The price tag set by Crye on the Army’s taking over rights to Multicam was $25 million, and there was an additional printing fee which would have balanced out to approximately 1 percent of the 20 percent cost increase uniform companies planned to charge for making Multicam for the Army. As a result, it became financially unwise to proceed with Multicam, so the Army set out to create their own pattern.

Here’s the tricky part: the original Scorpion was created during OFW, meaning it was done under a military contract. Because of that, the Army does own the intellectual rights to the pattern. However, Army Natick Labs altered the pattern until it closely resembles Multicam; it’s worth noting Crye has a legal team devoted to handling Multicam clones. At the time of publication, Crye had no comment regarding Scorpion W2 and its similarities to Multicam.

The ways Scorpion W2 varies from Multicam are fairly basic, but the fact remains differences exist. Multicam is darker overall and made up of thicker splashes of color, and those colors include vertical elements meant to more closely resemble blades of grass. Scorpion is lighter and made up of smaller areas of horizontal color. Specifically, the new OCP will be made with the following colors in accordance with MIL-DTL-44436B: cream 524, tan 535, pale green 526, olive 527, dark green 528, brown 529, and dark brown 530. The dye process starts with a cream 524 base color with the other colors printed on with rollers or screens, and while previous OCPs have been Class 9 and 10, the new OCP is Class 14. When examined by yardage, the pattern extends 60” in width and begins to repeat every 25”.

Army Combat Uniform (ACU) Changes

ACUs will be changing along with the OCP and personal gear shade of brown. Currently approved changes to ACUs include, from the top down:

  • Scorpion UniNew upper-sleeve pocket closure. Velcro is currently used to close the pocket and will be replaced with zippers for simplicity’s sake as well as security.
  • New length of upper-sleeve pocket. The new pockets will be approximately 1” longer not only for internal storage but to allow for more patches on the outside.
  • Changes to elbows. Internal elbow pads and external Velcro elbow patches found on the current ACUs will not be included on the new ACUs. The Army has deemed these features a waste of money and also believes them to be useless in the field. Material over the elbows will continue to be doubled and reinforced.
  • Change to cargo pocket closure. The current ACUs feature a cord-and-barrel lock over the cargo pocket; new ACUs will have none.
  • Changes to knees. Current ACUs have knee pads and patches; new ACUS will have neither, but will continue to be reinforced.
  • New lower-leg pocket closure. Like the upper-sleeve pocket, the lower-leg pocket on current ACUs has a Velcro closure. On the new ACUs the lower-leg pocket will be closed by a single button.

Changes awaiting approval, from the top down:

  • New collar. Current ACUs have a mandarin collar, but the new shirt makes it unnecessary. New ACUs could have a fold-down collar.
  • Tag changes. Current ACUs have an Infrared (IR) Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) tag on each sleeve. If this change is approved, the tag will be left on the right sleeve but removed from the left.
  • Some in the Army believe the drawstring on the current ACU’s waistband is unprofessional, so this feature may be removed from new ACUs.
  • Fewer ink pen pockets. Three pen pockets are featured on current ACUs, and the Army is considering reducing this to two.
  • Changes to lower-leg pockets. The pockets currently found on the lower legs may be removed entirely.

Current patches and insignias are believed to be approved for use on the new ACUs.

Boot Changes

Click to download PDF

Click image to view PDF

As part of the new Scorpion W2 uniform boots will change from their current coloring of Desert Tan to Coyote Brown. Boot specifications are as follows:

  • Boot leather is to be flesh-out cattle hide dyed to Coyote 498
  • Any and all fabric components must also be dyed Coyote 498
  • Box toe and heel counter must be a minimum of 1.5” with larger sizes allowed as the boot size goes up
  • Shank or equivalent support must be used at the midfoot with the following measurements as the guide: for a size 10R or equivalent, shank must be a minimum of 4” long and 5/8” wide, conforming to size of the last with changes in measurements in accordance with changes in boot size.
  • If the cushion midsole is externally visible it must be dyed Coyote 498
  • Outersole must be rubber or pure polyether polyurethane. Entire outersole, including identification plug, must be Coyote 498
  • Sole height must not exceed 2” in total, measured from the bottom edge of the outersole to the top of the upper immediately above.
  • Internal boot height must be between 8” and 10” when measured with the insole insert removed from the back on the inside of the boot. External measurement of boot height must not exceed 11”. Height may adjust within those parameters according to boot size.
  • Boots must have internal manufacturer’s product number. External labelling is allowed as long as it matches all external components in color.

Soldiers may wear Desert Tan boots until May of 2018. Desert Tan boots may be worn with either UCP ACU or OCP ACU. Coyote Brown boots may only be worn with the new OCP ACU. AAFES MCS is currently scheduled to begin selling the new OCP ACU and boots on July 1, 2015.

Personal Gear Changes

Along with the new Scorpion W2 pattern are changes to personal gear. Included in those changes are darkening of the t-shirt to be worn beneath the combat uniform; it will be Tan 499 instead of the lighter Desert Tan, and belts will also be dyed this darker shade. It follows gloves would also be dyed this new shade. Perhaps most noteworthy is the change to boots, which will be Coyote Brown 498 instead of Desert Tan. The darker shade of brown not only complements the new OCP but also shows less dirt and is thought to blend more fully into a variety of terrain.

The Army has not yet decided whether soldiers in garrison will be allowed to wear their Desert Tan personal gear. In fact, the timeline for phasing out personal gear has yet to be announced. What is clear is soldiers will, of course, not be wearing the old OCP on ops.

Who Gets It First?

Click to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

The first unit to be outfitted in Scorpion W2 is the 75th Ranger Regiment. Rangers were recently given permission to wear OCPs stateside and showed off their uniforms at their 30th anniversary celebration in October of 2014. However, those particular uniforms were purchased by unit leaders using private funds; government funding was not used. Word at that time was the Rangers would begin to be issued the new OCP (Scorpion W2) as soon as it became available, which was, at the time, hoped to be in November. The 75th Ranger Regiment will also be the only unit to be issued the new OCP; all other active-duty soldiers must use their annual clothing allowance to purchase the new uniforms. New accessions will see the new OCP in their clothing bags in the first part of the fiscal year 2016.

Actual implementation has been broken into four tiers as follows, with tier one being the top priority:

  • Tier one: clothing bags. Everything in the clothing bags – coats, pants, boots, etc. – should be seen in military clothing stores in May of 2015.
  • Tier two: combat clothing. Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI) items such as helmets, hydration packs, and clothing. Date of availability to be announced.
  • Tier three and four: non-essentials. This includes items such as sleeping bags. Availability for these items is as yet unknown.

Date of Release

The actual date of release has not been announced, although it’s slated for summer of 2015. According to a rep at Propper, there had been hope the release date would be earlier and that there would have been some Scorpion W2 samples at last January’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas, but delays made it impossible. Mandatory possession and wear-out dates have also not been announced but are expected to be sometime in 2018.

According to the dates in the contract, the first set of deliveries to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is set for May 1, 2015. The next milestone takes place on July 1, 2015, which is when AAFES MCS is supposed to begin selling the new OCP ACUs. New Coyote Brown boots purchased may only be worn with the new OCP ACU. Old Desert Tan boots can be worn with either the UCP ACU or OCP ACU, but they have a wear-out date of October 1, 2018.

2018 Deadline for Across-the-Board DoD Pattern

According to the aforementioned 2014 Defense Authorization Act, the deadline for all branches of the military to wear the same uniform is 2018. The first to potentially fall in behind the Army will be the Air Force. Deployed airmen have been wearing OEF OCP (Multicam) ACUs since 2011; those airmen will now wear OCP. Air Force Strike Command (AFGSC) security forces at three bases will also be wearing OCP, first transitioning to OEF OCP and then changing to OCP as it comes available. Those bases include: Minot AFB, North Dakota; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. Airmen with the 20th AF at F.E. Warren AFB began receiving OEF OCP (Multicam) uniforms on February 2, 2015. The 620th Ground Combat Training Squadron based at Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, will also be included in the new OCP.

There has been discussion regarding adopting one family of camo for all branches of the military, but no official decision has yet been made in the remaining three branches about Scorpion W2.

Public Release

According to Army Spokesman William Layer, the issue of commercial use of Scorpion W2 is “still under internal Army discussion.” However, a rep from Propper stated last month he believes there will be a commercial allowance for the new OCP, it will just be a ways down the road. It makes sense the new OCP would eventually be made available commercially, we just do not know when it will occur.

Who Will Make It?

Propper is a major military uniform distributor; over the years they’ve manufactured more than 130 million uniforms for the DoD. And although the 48-year-old company does not currently have a contract with the Army for combat uniforms, the new OCP may create enough demand to create an opportunity. The company is currently a sub-contractor in a non-sewing capacity for multiple ACU contracts. In addition they are preparing to launch 670-1 compliant boots in 2015.

The Bottom Line

The decision has been made: Scorpion W2 is the new OCP for the Army, replacing Multicam. We expect to see the new pattern early this coming summer and will keep you updated as advances are made in production. Whether or not the changes to the pattern and resulting changes to the ACUs means current regs will be updated again is not known at this time.