25 January 2013

Sherpa Sports New MultiCam Gear, Gadget

A longtime Red Bull Rising blog reader recently gifted me with a choice piece of Afghaniswag: A MultiCam-pattern baseball-style cap, featuring the shoulder patch worn by the Iowa National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34th BCT). There's also a reference to "Task Force Red Bulls," the organizational nickname by which most of the 3,200 citizen-soldiers who deployed in 2010-2011 were known while in country.

Readers may remember that 2-34th BCT was one of the very first U.S. Army units to be issued uniforms and equipment with the MultiCam camouflage pattern. The Afghanistan-specific design is known as "Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern" (O.C.P.). (The military loves creating new words so much, it embeds acronyms within acronyms.)

Meanwhile, the utility (or lack of utility) of the Army's current Universal Camouflage Pattern (U.C.P.) continues to win hearts, minds, and headlines. Here's hoping that Uncle Sam will come up with something that works as well as MultiCam, and then stick with it.

Manufactured by Tactical Tailor of Tacoma, Wash., my new headgear features an outline of Afghanistan on the back, along with a reference to Operation Enduring Freedom XI, and a slogan: "Stay Red Bull Strong."

The hats were apparently used as premiums for soldiers who signed re-elistment contracts following the 2010-2011 deployment. "You didn't stay in the Army," my citizen-solider-benefactor told me, "but you did make it to Afghanistan. You deserve a hat!"

Coincidentally, when I traveled as civilian media with TF Red Bulls, I wasn't allowed to wear camouflage of any kind.

My new favorite ball cap isn't my first piece of MultiCam equipment, however. During the 2012 holiday season, my go-to-war point-and-shoot camera bit the proverbial dust. A day later, so did my back-up camera. So, just days before Christmas, I mail-ordered a new one, and had it delivered to my undisclosed location.

Less-than-thrilled with the long lag-times and harsh flash I encountered with my previous Olympus-brand equipment, I opted this time for a Nikon COOLPIX AW100 16 MP CMOS Waterproof Digital Camera.

It's waterproof up to depths of 10 meters, and shockproof from heights up to 5 feet. One feature might have been problematic downrange: The camera has a Global Positioning System (G.P.S.) capability. (Note for future embeds: Turn feature off for OPSEC reasons.)

Like a good U.S. Army Signal Corps alumnus, I had originally planned to purchase a camera that was colored an easy-to-find blaze-orange. Instead, I found the camouflaged one was available for less money.

I shall call it ... "The MultiCam-era!"

Given the rugged nature of my new equipment, it will likely survive most any situation I plan to throw at it. One philosophical question remains, however: If a camouflaged, GPS-capable camera gets dropped in a forest, would anyone be able to find it?

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