"It's worthwhile to see if we can shrink the numbers," says Mabus. "Whether you go to one, or two or three, that's still progress."
An expert on military uniforms says the breadth of the problem boils down to each service wanting to promote its own individual identity.
"It's good hearing a service secretary say, 'Hey, this doesn't make sense,'" says Eric Graves, editor of Soldier Systems Daily, an equipment industry analysis website.
Gen. James Jones, then-commandant of the Marine Corps, asked for MARPAT because he wanted it to be clear when "the Marines are here." The Army responded with UCP, and the Navy said they wanted a new blue service working uniform to replace its old working uniform, which was also blue, in keeping with tradition.
Distinguishing between a working uniform and a battle uniform is the key to the debate, Graves says.
"In a battle uniform, I do believe [troops] should take the best products, the best materials, the best ideas and incorporate them into a common uniform," he says. "[A working uniform] can be a little more 'military,' less function-driven and more passion-driven, or 'This is what soldiers should look like.'"
From an operational security standpoint, it doesn't make sense to have all the services in different camouflage while in combat, he adds. That would make it very easy to target, for example, an airman attached to an Army unit who is responsible for calling in air strikes.
"While all the services have said, 'Here is our individuality,' ultimately – with the exception of the Marine Corps and special operations – the war fixed the problem by putting people in [Army] MultiCam," says Graves.
"[The Army] has done more to test, develop, evaluate and select a camouflage pattern than anybody ever in history," he says. "Whatever the services do...I think it will probably end up being whatever the Army came up with."
It was rumored the Army would make a decision on its new uniform pattern on the service's birthday on June 14. A spokesman says that is unlikely.
Matthew Bourke, an Army spokesman, confirms the Army has completed a test phase to determine the best camouflage pattern, involving trials at Fort Bliss, Texas and Fort Carson, Colo. It is currently briefing senior leadership on the results.
The Army will make a decision in "the near future," he says, but there is no hard timeline, nor has it planned a date for an announcement.