CADPAT combat camouflage replacement options under consideration

Article / May 7, 2019 / Project number: 19-0038

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — A possible replacement for the distinctive Canadian Disruptive Pattern (CADPAT) uniforms is among the options that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is investigating in its ongoing commitment to providing its fighting force with the highest quality operational clothing and equipment.

At the same time, the Canadian Army (CA) is also looking at ways to incorporate advanced materials and increase performance in areas such as durability, comfort, and increased protection from detection by night vision systems such as those using infra-red.

Soldier Operational Clothing and Equipment Modernization project

The selection process, known officially as The Soldier Operational Clothing and Equipment Modernization Project (SOCEM), is now only in its earliest days, and involves a group of current and retired CAF members who well understand the importance of high-quality kit that fits well.

As the project unfolds, sufficient quantities of existing clothing and equipment will continue to be issued. It is expected to enter the implementation phase in 2022 and, until then, mixed fleets of uniforms will be permitted as new items are gradually acquired.

Social media too quick off the mark

An image of a new style of uniform recently appeared on the social network Reddit, kicking off speculation that it was the final choice. However, trials of replacement options are underway and will continue this summer at 4th Canadian Division Support Group in Petawawa, Ontario.

CADPAT was initially issued in 1997 in three variations:

  • Temperate Woodland (TW), created for forest and grassland environments, is comprised of four specific colours of light green, dark green, brown and black.
  • Arid Regions (AR), created for desert, near desert and savannah conditions, incorporates three different colours of brown.
  • Winter Operations (WO), created for winter and Arctic use, replaced previous solid winter whites to improve soldiers’ day and night concealment with technology that reduces detection by night vision devices.

This set of sophisticated, computer-generated patterns is a trademark held by the Department of National Defence and enhances concealment from night vision devices.

Possibility of two patterns being replaced by one

One objective of SOCEM is to consider replacing the TW and AR patterns with a new, more comfortable single option made of more advanced materials that better reflects current operational environments. Officials expect that the adoption of a single pattern to replace two will simplify supply and delivery.

CADPAT is most closely associated with the CA but Navy and Air Force personnel posted within CA lines are authorized to wear it. Canadian Special Operations Forces Command personnel wear another camouflage pattern, known as MultiCam, and are not effected by SOCEM.

New sizing being reviewed

SOCEM will additionally consider a new sizing system based on updated data collection in order to better reflect the current diversity of body types of those serving in the CAF.

The final cost of replacement will depend on the results of the various trials still to come but CAF generally spends from $15 million to $25 million annually on uniforms.

Discussions began in February 2019

SOCEM discussions kicked off in February, 2019 with a day-long meeting including CAF procurement specialists and defence scientists from Defence Research and Development Canada. The latter were asked to provide insight into the most recent technological advancements.

“We had mannequins in the room so we could hold up pieces of kit, ask whose project is impacted by this, and get a discussion leading to answers right away,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Ray Corby with Director Land Requirements’ Soldiers Systems section, which is leading the SOCEM effort. “By the end, we had a pretty clear road map to where we want to go.”

New options will cover more than just clothing

As it develops, SOCEM may also grow to encompass a wider range of equipment, including personal protective items, outerwear and associated identification tags, and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear carriers and clothing.

LCol Corby explained that the CA is taking a holistic approach with the project to ensure any new pieces of equipment added function effectively in combination.

“The potential change of camouflage pattern is just one part of integrating soldiers’ equipment,” he explained. “If we change the pattern, most of our equipment – tactical vests, our small packs, our rucksacks, our helmet covers – are all in our current pattern. So do we change all of our equipment and does our new equipment reflect this pattern?”

“Ideally, I would like to provide new equipment to soldiers and their commanders that offers them the ability to decide what is the right scale to wear at that particular time, based on the situation they have assessed,” he added.

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