Piczookery – Latvian troops in Diwaniyah

01/12/07 – Latvian soldiers climb out of the back of a humvee at the conclusion of an electronic warfare counter-measures class near Diwaniyah, Iraq, Jan. 12, 2007. The Latvian soldiers are part of a maneuver group that will be providing security and conducting patrols in the Diwaniyah area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rob Summitt) (Released)

Note the Latvians’ digital camo, which to Murdoc’s naked eye looks like a good pattern and color scheme, though maybe not quite so good in urban areas. It’s got a lot of “color” to it, which at first glance seems better than the US Army’s new Army Combat Uniform. The ACU does not incorporate the color black. ACUs, which are pretty light-colored in the first place, often appear to be pretty faded.

There’s a good post up on the ACU over at Defense Tech: New Army Camos: No Place to Hide?. It’s got some good pics.

Good discussion in the comments section, too, so check it out. One commenter notes that washing the ACU with the wrong detergent can contribute to the “faded” look.


  1. I had the same experience with BDUs vs. ACUs at Fort Dix. On the sandy ranges, the ACUs were defintely better. As soon as we went on patrol in the woods, the ACUs caught the eye even from long distances. In the dark, the old and new uniforms were about equal.

  2. Bram: It seems to me that the troops are actually quite happy with the ACU in the environment they’re in right now, and that’s fine. Give them what works. I suspect that part of the problem is the attempt to find a ‘one size fits all’ solution, when there probably isn’t a size that will fit all. Compromises have to be made in multi-function gear, and for a uniform to be good in the city or desert, it’s just plain not going to be as good in the forest. Now, I’m glad that the Army appears to have over-compensated in the direction of urban and desert environments, as that’s where we’re likely to be doing most of our work in the near future. But I’m wondering if a ‘on size fits all’ pattern and color scheme is worth it. Sure logistics are important, critical even. But if different colors are needed to fight in the jungle, we better damn well have some different colors when we have to fight in the jungle.

  3. The ACU sucks here at Ft Lewis, where everything is bright green. On the other side of the Cascades, at the Yakima Training Center, in the sagebrush, you disappear as soon as you stop moving. I believe the Army has stopped using black in it’s camo patterns because for some reason it’s extra reflective in the IR spectrum. Which means the black chunks on the woodland pattern stands out under NVGs (I can confirm that this last, at least, is true from experience.)

  4. Good example of the Army buying equipment designed for ‘the last war’ that we will be stuck with for a generation.

  5. The Special Forces guys have special needs so their uniform decisions do not reflect on the Army as a whole. Just as their weapon and vehicle decisions don’t incorporate themselves into Big Army. The ACU pattern is designed for urban/arid terrain just as the BDU was designed for Europe (it had as many detractors when it was first issued) and we were stuck with that one design until a major desert war showed it’s face. You can plan and design for the future, but you have to procure for the present. The ACU is a better middle ground than either the BDU or DCU. Camo does not stop at the uniform. The uniform is just the starting point. Besides, by the time you add a helmet with goggles, IBA with attachments, assault pack w/Camelback, drop rig w/ black M9 and black M4 with CCO, laser designator and PVS-14 who is going to notice your ACUs? Not to leave out the M1114, M1117, M1A1, Bradley, etc running beside you.