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6 The evolution of US military camouflage uniforms:

by:XinXing     2020-09-04
   Last summer, the U.S. Army announced that it would adopt a new Army Camouflage Combat Uniform (ACU). This camouflage is called Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP), which is the Scorpio W2 camouflage. Now this camouflage uniform has been officially launched, and the old model will be completely retired before 2018.

   Scorpio W2 camouflage

   This means the end of the era of Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), like electronic pixels. Over the past 10 years, the type of camouflage has continued to evolve, and the new OCP camouflage is just the latest attempt by the US military to pursue the 'perfect camouflage'.

  A universal camouflage uniform for the US military

   Although mankind has known the truth of camouflage on the battlefield a long time ago, the history of the use of camouflage by the US military is only more than 60 years, and the first use of camouflage by the military was only two or three centuries ago.

  Basic green and khaki camouflage

   Nowadays, people regard khaki as a casual style color, but this color was first born to serve military purposes.

   In England, some irregular forces would wear simple and plain clothes like hunting ground guards to better hide. When fighting Napoleon, the British rifle regiment began to wear green jackets, while most of the British soldiers were still wearing bright scarlet uniforms. The two were in sharp contrast. The British 'Red Coat' military uniform has a long history. The new model army, which dates back to 1645, is based on the traditional military uniforms of the Royal Guards and Tower of London Guards. The red color symbolizes the red rose family emblem of the Tudor Dynasty. . Soldiers must wear white stockings when they wear red uniforms. These two ways of wearing represent the red and white 'United Flag' of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

  As the British Empire continued to expand, people discovered that the heavy red uniforms made of wool were not suitable for wearing in tropical regions, such as in the South Asian subcontinent. However, the British East India Company and the troops stationed in India have maintained the tradition of wearing red uniforms for more than 70 years. In 1848, when Sir Harry Rumsden fought in the Peshawar area on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he made a mud-colored military uniform similar to the local soil color. This uniform was subsequently named after the Persian 'khaki'. It means 'earth-colored'.

'The khaki uniform was first adopted by the Corps of Guides cavalry regiment in India in 1849, so as to be less visible when fighting local armed tribes,' said British historian Nigel Thomas. 'Then this uniform was adopted in 1857. It was adopted by other British troops stationed in India during the anti-British riots in India in 1988, but it was later abolished and did not appear again until 1868.'

  Modern Khaki Uniform

   As European powers plundered most of the tropical areas on the earth as colonies at the end of the 19th century, khaki began to be adopted by the military of various countries because of the color similar to the tropical environment. Interestingly, most officials and sergeants who went to the colonies still insisted on wearing European uniforms. Only the troops stationed in the colonies would wear khaki uniforms.

   Camouflage during World War I

   Although khaki is widely used in European colonies, it is rarely seen in Europe. Therefore, by the time of World War I in 1914, many soldiers were still wearing bright military uniforms that were only suitable for showing off on the parade ground, especially the French army. Their uniforms were almost the same as those of the French-Prussian War in 1870: dark blue jackets and red trousers. . Like the British military uniforms, the colors of the French military uniforms also represent the colors of the French flag.

  As the war began to evolve into a tug of war in the mud trenches, the soldiers began to find ways to become inconspicuous on the battlefield. Doran Cart, curator of the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, United States, said: “Camouflage uniforms always serve the war. The more violent the war, the more soldiers will try to camouflage themselves. At first, soldiers wore uniform uniforms, but later they would use mud. Dirty the uniform and then cover the entire road with barbed wire. This is to create a false environment to confuse the enemy's air reconnaissance.'

   In addition, the helmets newly adopted by the armed forces of various countries at that time will also be painted in various colors to facilitate the identification of enemy and friend. The German army also issued a special order for this. On July 7, 1918, Erich Ludendorff, the Chief of the German Quartermaster, signed a military order requiring all soldiers' helmets to be painted in different colors according to seasonal changes.

   camouflage helmet

   Then the German soldiers' camouflage helmets were imitated by the US military, and many soldiers even ingeniously designed their own helmets with distinctive camouflage patterns. However, the U.S. helmet did not come in handy in the trenches of World War I, and became a show-stopper in the subsequent victory parade. This kind of camouflage helmet may also have greatly influenced the development of the subsequent US military camouflage equipment.

   From World War II to Vietnam War

   During World War II, the camouflage equipment of the US Army did not improve much. Although American soldiers wear khaki uniforms, they do not have camouflage patterns. Khaki military uniforms have become a regular summer dress for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. Alec Tulkoff, the author of the book 'U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Combat Equipment for World War II,' said: 'Before the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps began to learn from British khaki uniforms and promote them throughout the army.'

   In 1940, the US Army Corps of Engineers began to improve camouflage uniforms. In 1942, Army General Douglas MacArthur ordered the military to rush to produce 15,000 jungle camouflage uniforms for use on the Pacific battlefield. The camouflage pattern of this military uniform was designed by horticulturist Norvell Gillespie. The pattern includes green and brown spots. It is designed on two sides and is suitable for autumn and early spring. Because this military uniform contains five colors and many spots, it is also called the 'frog suit.'

'The first large-scale use of camouflage uniforms by the U.S. Navy during World War II was in the Battle of the Solomon Islands, especially at the Battle of Bougainville in November 1943,' Tulkoff said. 'These camouflage uniforms are particularly suitable for the upper island. Dressed in the jungle. However, in the Battle of Tarawa a few weeks later, because of the sparse vegetation on the island, the camouflage immediately lost its proper function.'

Jungle camouflage

   Due to the huge impact of the environment on the combat effectiveness of camouflage uniforms, camouflage uniforms have never been able to rank among standard combat equipment. On the European battlefield, the US military uses even fewer camouflage uniforms. Because the German army wore several different camouflage uniforms at the time, the U.S. army worried that if its own soldiers wore camouflage uniforms, it would be difficult to distinguish the enemy from the enemy.

   After the end of World War II, the US military conducted a series of experiments on camouflage uniforms in the 1950s. The results proved that no camouflage uniform can adapt to all environments, but soldiers will still get a basic olive green cotton uniform.

   'However, from World War II to the Korean War to the Vietnam War, camouflage helmets have always been a must-have equipment for soldiers,' Tulkoff said.

   During the Vietnam War, American soldiers were equipped with an M1 steel helmet as standard. The helmet had leaf-shaped dark brown, auburn, beige, light brown and light ochre overlapping composition. This pattern was called the USMC Mitchell pattern. It was originally planned to be used on military uniforms, but was rejected.

   However, in Southeast Asia, this leaf-like pattern camouflage is used on military uniforms by the US military's long-distance reconnaissance and patrol units and the US Navy SEALs. In addition, members of the Zeta reconnaissance unit under the Research and Observation Group of the US Advisory Command in Vietnam often wear tiger-print camouflage uniforms that they have purchased, which have never been officially adopted by the US military.

   Desert Lone Gun

   After the Vietnam War ended, the US Army Engineering Research and Development Laboratory produced a new jungle camouflage uniform. This camouflage uniform is composed of four different jungle colors, interspersed with black branch patterns, and then became a classic style that was imitated by various countries. This camouflage uniform was originally born to cope with the European battlefield environment that may be triggered by the Cold War.

  From the desert camouflage to the present

   After the end of the Cold War, the possibility of the United States and NATO fighting in Europe is already very low. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 even caused the United States to shift its military focus from Europe. In 1977, the US Army launched the Desert Combat Camouflage Uniform (DBDU), which contained six colors and was called chocolate camouflage because it resembled chocolate. Later, the chocolate camouflage uniforms were officially put into use in the 1990s. Chocolate camouflage can be seen in the Desert Storm military operation in 1991 and the Somali Reconstruction Hope Operation in 1993. However, the chocolate camouflage is designed based on the rocky desert environment of California, which is very different from the pure sand deserts of the Middle East and North Africa. Subsequently, the US military launched a three-color desert camouflage uniform (DCU), known as coffee stain camouflage.

   In order to develop the coffee stain camouflage, the U.S. military conducted research on the sands of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In the 1990s, coffee stain camouflage began to be used on a large scale, and it was active in the 2001 Afghanistan Permanent Freedom Military Operation and the 2003 Free Iraq Military Operation.

   Although the coffee stain camouflage has improved a lot compared to the chocolate camouflage, the US military has been trying to develop a universal camouflage suit that adapts to various environments, which led to the birth of the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). This camouflage has brown, gray and green composition, suitable for desert, jungle, and even urban environments. Subsequently, the US Marine Corps designed a special navy camouflage based on the general camouflage pattern.

   It is worth mentioning that the universal camouflage pattern did not use black, because people later discovered that black has a high degree of recognition, and it is easily caught by the naked eye and modern detection techniques. And several different grays are harmonious together. The universal camouflage pattern is also called digital camouflage because it resembles the pixels on a computer screen.

   But for a long time, people have been questioning whether camouflage uniforms can really play the role of camouflage on the battlefield. In July 2014, the U.S. military announced that the universal camouflage pattern was about to be retired and replaced by the Scorpio W2 camouflage. The irony is that the general camouflage pattern was originally regarded as the crystallization of military equipment technology wisdom, and the Scorpio W2 camouflage was only a small product of the 2002 target force fighter plan.
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