The 19th Century:
The 19th century saw many military innovations that formed the basis for the modern battlefield. Up until the 19th century military uniforms were made
to help identify friendly or enemy troops. You saw bright colors, flags, horns, drums, and many other things that in today's battlefield would get
your army slaughtered. What changed?
The bolt action rifle and the machine gun were both created during the 19th century. These weapons extended the range of the war fighter from a couple
of hundred feet, to hundreds of yards. It was the advent of these two weapons that created the need for concealment. While the concept of concealment
and camouflage goes much further back than the 19th century, it's regular military application, as we know it today, was not in use until the 19th
century. The use of drab colors (OD Green, Dark Earth, Coyote Tan, Black-Which would later form the familiar Woodland BDU) became a necessity in order
to blend the operator into the background. WW1 saw the use of OD Green and Coyote Tan solid color uniforms which actually increased the survivability
of troops in theater.
The 20th Century:
The Second World War created the first camo-patterned uniform used to break up the human form and for a better blend with the environment. The best
example of this is the Herringbone Twill Pattern(HBT) used primarily by US Army Rangers and Marines in the Pacific theater.
Outside of this limited use the US Army and Marine Corp continued to use solid color drab uniforms all the way up the Vietnam War, when the standard
OD green uniform of the Army was forced to change due to the jungle conditions where greens and browns were broken up by light and shadow, the ERDL
pattern camouflage(predecessor to the modern Woodland Pattern Battle Dress Uniform) was born:
The 70s and 80s brought us the Woodland BDU and the desert three color BDU.
The Woodland BDU was the standard dress uniform of most ground troops in the United States for nearly 30 years. It was adopted to respond to the needs
of operators in South and Central America where the vegetation and light/shadow mixture, although similar to Vietnam, required some darkening of the
color swatches to match thick canopy jungle and mountainous terrain where dark shadows were the norm.
The deserts of Kuwait and Iraq brought us the BDU in Three Color Desert pattern. This pattern was quickly found to be ineffective in open Middle
Eastern deserts. The 3 color desert uniforms were modeled for deserts in the United States where you see a lot of browns.
This pattern was replaced by the 6 color desert BDU which did little to aid in the concealment of soldiers as it kept the browns and added black
circular dots to mimic rock shadows. Again, designed for US deserts.
The 21st Century:
The 21st Century has brought us some serious innovation in camouflage patterns.
The US Army's ACU(Army Combat Uniform) was introduced in 2004 to meet the needs of operators in the sandy deserts of Iraq as well as serving as a
transitional pattern for urban combat operations in the same theater. It is now the standard uniform of US Army personnel. The Pattern is called
UCP(Universal Camouflage Pattern).
UCP has also evolved slightly to better meet the needs in Afghanistan. US operators in theater are field testing UCP-D(UCP-Delta) with dark earth
brown mixed in.
Afghanistan has become a boon to camo pattern creators over the last 9 years. The US Army Special Forces have been given Multicam ACUs to field test
in Afghanistan. Of all the patterns being used in Afghanistan Multicam has come out on top as the best pattern for the transitional environment of the
A new proprietary pattern by Propper Inc. called ATACS(Advanced Tactical Concealment System) promises to render operators nearly invisible using
Organic Digital pixel patterns in rocky, desert, woodland and urban patterns for their respective environments. This pattern is so effective that I
have trouble seeing it in photos let alone at range.
The Future Beyond:
The future of camouflage lies in adaptive material and light bending capabilities. Meta-materials have shown the ability to bend certain light
spectrum around it's structure rendering the object invisible to the observer. This technology is probably a decade or so out before it is fielded for
combat operations. Right now this technology works with microwave and IR spectrum but cannot yet do the same for visible light.
I hope this thread is as informative as you hoped it would be. Camo theory is an ever changing science. An important field of study to make sure the
operator in the field of battle can lay waste to the enemy while increasing his/her own survivability.
edit on 31-5-2011 by projectvxn because:
(no reason given)
edit on 10-9-2011 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)