Pixel Uniforms Made American Soldiers Easier To Shoot

Pixel Uniforms Made American Soldiers Easier To Shoot
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In 2004, American Army personnel were issued with a bold new camouflage design, one based not on wavy woodland patterns, but pixels. It looked cool in a photo, but hasn’t worked so well where it counts: on the battlefield.

The Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, is a grey-green uniform that was supposed to allow soldiers to blend into almost any terrain they may find themselves in. Look closely – or, really, just look at it – and it’s made up of large pixels, like the background art of an old NES war game.

Tragically, it seems the decision to adopt the design nearly a decade ago was made by politicians and top brass, and not the men and women who would actually be wearing it into battle.

“Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,” an Iraq veteran told The Daily. “The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.”

The problem with UCP was a simple one: it doesn’t work. A design supposed to make soldiers harder to see has in fact made that job easier for the enemy, and things got so bad that in 2010 the US Army’s combat forces in Afghanistan were issued with a new design after repeated complaints.

Bizarrely, the UCP’s origins date back to a similar Marine uniform designed in 2002, that was designed…differently.

“They went to Home Depot, looked at paint swatches, and said, ‘We want that colour,’ ” Anabelle Dugas, one of the Marine pattern’s designers, says. “That color” was part of a Ralph Lauren paint series.

While Army personnel outside Afghanistan are still stuck with the UCP, the branch is currently hard at work on a replacement design, one that this time might actually take soldier’s views and needs into consideration.

$5B CAMO SNAFU [The Daily]


  • Yes they knew that eventually COD and BF franchises would allow players to slave away (or pay) to unlock the UCP designs, which would actually help faux soldiers in the digital landscape. Too bad real ones, with real heartbeats stick out like dogs balls.

  • Straight edges don’t work outside the city, and green doesn’t work in the city. Bad, bad idea. Camoflague is designed to break down the recognisable lines, not make them worse.

    • The main problem is the attempt at making a universal camo pattern for all environments. Not so much the squares and pixel shapes of the camo. It all comes down to the colour choices for the patterns.

      Digital camouflage works right when the colours match the environment.

  • I never understood that digi-camo. I thought MAYBE it was designed to disrupt the image of the soldier when they are viewed through a digital display, because MAYBE that’s the way the are mostly viewed in this ‘modern warfare’. But apparently not.

  • The kotaku summary has confused its terminology. The uniform is called the Army Combat Uniform (ACU), and it uses the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) design for its camo.

  • “The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.”
    I dunno… Pretty much all classes stand out in CP_Gravelpit, with the exception of cloaked spies.

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