U.S. Army Camouflage Patterns: OCP vs MultiCam
In 2005, the U.S. Army rolled out the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) for the newly redesigned Army Combat Uniform (ACU) to replace the Woodland Battle Dress Uniform, Desert Battle Dress Uniform, and the Desert Camouflage Uniform. UCP is the "digital" camouflage pattern which the Army issued until the official rollout of the newly adopted OCP uniforms began in 2014.
In 2010, soldiers being deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom began receiving uniform items in the MultiCam pattern to replace UCP due to UCP's poor performance in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan. MultiCam had been officially designated Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OEF-CP), but was never considered a "clothing bag" issue item. The OEF-CP combat uniforms issued to deploying soldiers were the same Army Combat Uniform cut as the UCP ACUs, easily identifiable by the Mandarin collar, which could be worn up when wearing body armor to protect the soldier's neck from discomfort.
In 2010 the U.S. Army began testing new patterns to officially replace UCP as the standard camouflage pattern. Originally developed by Crye Precision (the owner of the MultiCam camouflage pattern) in 2002 as Scorpion, the U.S. Army had made modifications to the pattern and renamed it Scorpion W2, and because of licensing and cost concerns, chose their in-house modified version over the Cry Precision MultiCam pattern.
In 2015 the U.S. Army released the updated Army Combat Uniform in the newly adopted OCP Scorpion W2 camouflage pattern, and began issuing them to soldiers deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq, then to new servicemembers entering Basic Training. It wasn't until January of 2021 that the Army issued the updated AR 670-1 and DA PAM 670-1 to include new ACU and IHWCU requirements, phasing out all prior uniforms and patterns.
The only authorized camouflage pattern for all U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force utility uniforms is the Operational Camouflage Pattern Scorpion W2, or OCP.
What's the difference between OCP Scorpion W2 and MultiCam?
OCP and MultiCam appear to be very similar; both start with a background of greenish-tan superimposed with brown and green fields, and blobs of dark brown and light beige scattered across the pattern to break up the eye lines. But when compared side-by-side, some differences emerge. OCP has larger blobs and is generally a horizontal pattern, with the fields and blobs stretching east to west. MultiCam, on the other hand, has smaller blobs speckled in bunches, with distinctive vertical slashes of dark brown and light beige. Both use seven distinctive hues, but the color palettes are slightly varied between the two patterns.
Buying Uniforms in OCP
As the newer ACUs in OCP began being issued, the older style of ACU (with the mandarin collar) in both UCP and OEF-CP began appearing in army surplus stores. It's easy to confuse the new ACU in OCP with the older ACU in OEF-CP. The tell-tale feature is the "lay-flat" collar of the new ACU design versus the mandarin collar of the old design. The old style ACU has now passed the wear-out date and is no longer compliant with AR 670-1. Some State Defense Forces, however, at the direction of their adjutants general will continue to wear the ACU in UCP for the foreseeable future.
State Defense Supply only sells the AR 670-1 compliant ACU in OCP; we do not sell uniforms in MultiCam or UCP.
Up until recently name tapes, branch tapes and rank patches for the U.S. Army have been embroidered using black thread on fabric tapes in the full 7-color OCP color pattern. When the U.S. Air Force adopted the Operational Camouflage Pattern for its uniforms, they chose to use spice brown thread on a 3-color OCP tape, which uses the lightest colors of the 7-color pattern, making them easier read. As of April of 2021, the Department of the Army has announced that once current supplies of the 7-color OCP tapes are exhausted, the Army will change to the 3-color OCP tapes, also, but keep the black thread for embroidery. Some suppliers have already begun that transition meaning that name tapes, branch tapes and rank patches are beginning to only be available on the 3-color OCP tapes.
The AR 670-1 does authorize the use of TA-50 or field gear (load bearing equipment, backpacks, hydration packs, etc) in OEF-CP as the rollout to field new gear has been a slow process. Field gear items in MultiCam (OEF-CP) are widely available, and compatible with most uses within the U.S. Army and State Defense Forces. Most State Defense Forces authorize their service members to use field gear in MultiCam (OEF-CP) or solid colors like coyote tan, olive drab green, or black. Check with your Chain of Command to ensure that you know which colors or patterns of field gear are authorized for use.