Camo Patterns and Their Origins

Camo Patterns and Their Origins

Camouflage print is instantly recognizable as being part of a military uniform. This is true all around the world, as it is the best method for troops from any nation to blend into their surroundings. Nowadays, camo patterns are becoming increasingly popular, having spread to prom dresses, jewelry and even wedding gowns, but where did it all begin?

Origins of Camo Patterns

In America, camo patterns were first introduced to the military at the time of the First Frogskin Camo PatternWorld War. Initial designs copied from European militaries were supposed to resemble foliage, and one design was made specifically for hiding in trees. However, camo patterns were not widely used until the Second World War, around 20 years later.

When it was introduced on a much larger scale, the camo print was brought in very quickly. 150,000 uniforms were requested by General D. MacArthur, and they were distributed in August of 1942. Primarily used by the U.S. Marine Corps (as well as the U.S. Army, to a much lesser extent), the uniform was reversible, having a ‘jungle’ pattern on one side and brown ‘beach’ design on the other. A similar double sided camo pattern was also printed onto waterproof fabrics, to make ponchos.

There was limited use of a leaf print camo pattern in 1953, with some clothing being worn during the Vietnam War. It was commonly known as the ‘wine leaf’, or ‘vine leaf’, print, and was once again reversible – this time with a ‘cloud’ pattern in different shades of beige and brown. These patterns were used for shelter covers, as well as for helmets towards the end of the decade.

Development of Camo Patterns

The camo pattern which was developed in 1948, shelved and later reintroduced in the 1960s, gives us the first glimmer of the camo print which we know today. The pattern was made up of patches of grass and lime green, with brown shapes and black ‘branches’, Woodland Camo Patternand eventually earned the nickname of ‘flower power’ fatigues. It is still copied to this very day, and variations can be seen worn by militaries all over the world. A variation of this camo pattern was printed in mostly brown colors, which was most suitable for mountainous or rocky areas.

Once the war in Vietnam came to an end, the use of this camo pattern diminished, although the U.S. Marine Corps still used it. It was not until the late 1970s that camo patterns were reconsidered for military uniforms, so the ‘Hot Weather Uniform’ was born. It reused old camo print fabric with the last pattern, although the colors did change slightly while in production.

This pattern was developed further in 1981, to become the ‘Woodland Camouflage’ pattern that is still known and loved today. The pattern was 60% larger than before, although the colors remained pretty much the same as they had been – a combination of brown, black, light green and dark green. Initially the pattern was designated as the standard dress uniform for both combat and everyday wear for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, but by the late 1980s it had been rolled out across all branches of the U.S. military.

When the operations known as Desert Shield and Desert Storm began in the early 1990s, for the first time there was a real need for the U.S. military to have a camo pattern suitable for desert wear, rather than just the ‘jungle’ pattern. The pattern that uniforms were made of comprised wave type shapes in sandy brown and beige tones.

Modern Era Camo Patterns

Digital camouflage is a relatively new invention, as it only came into existence less than 20 years ago. The Canadian government wanted its Marines to wear a distinctive uniform Multicam Camo Patternwhich was different from the other branches of the U.S. military, so they used computer algorithms to come up with a pixilated pattern. Three MARPAT designs were produced, so called because they are ‘MARine PATterns’.

In 2004, the U.S. Army brought out its version of the digital camouflage pattern, which was, in fact, just the same as the Canadian version, but in a different color. The idea behind it was to create a single camouflage pattern which could be worn by soldiers in any situation, regardless of the environment in which they were working: urban, desert, or jungle. However, this technique has not proved successful at all as it seems only just to be ‘adequate’ as a measure of camouflage in any one of those settings.

The MultiCam pattern is the camo print which is most widely used in the U.S. military today; it has been issued to various military personnel, including the U.S. Special Forces, and all ground troops who are deployed to Afghanistan. It was introduced just four years ago in 2010, and is copied all around the globe.

The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy also have their own designated uniforms, although it was only in 2002 and 2007, respectively, that these were introduced. The U.S. Air Force settled on a ‘Digital Tiger Stripe’ pattern, and five years later the U.S. Navy introduced a uniform which has come to be known as the Navy Working Uniform Type I, or NWU-1. The difference with the naval camo pattern in comparison to other branches of the military is that it is not intended to camouflage the person wearing it, but rather it is designed to hide oil spills, paint and stains, which are all part of the job.

Discontinued Camo Patterns

Over the years there have been several rather unusual camo patterns used by the U.S. Night Desert Camo Pattermilitary, such as the ‘chocolate chip’ pattern which was designed in 1971. Intended for use in rocky climates, it was made up of brown shapes over a tan colored background, with a sprinkling of small shapes in black and white which were supposed to look like rocks. Another unusual pattern was the ‘Night Desert’ print, which was created around the time of the Vietnam War. It consisted of a green-grey grid with several small green spots arranged on top and was supposed to camouflage wearers from special Soviet night vision equipment. However, it failed miserably and was short lived as the night vision technology was far too advanced.

Of course, while camo patterns have been developed, there have been several designs which the military experimented with, but were dismissed along the way. Some of these include patchy brown and khaki fabric covered with well-defined green spots, a very simple pattern mostly in grey (termed the ‘urban MOUT pattern’), and a tiger stripe pattern for the U.S. Air Force, which was predominantly blue in color.

Although the fundamentals of U.S. military camo patterns have remained the same since they began around 100 years ago, the designs themselves have gone through quite a number of changes and developments. As technology is improving and we are constantly finding new ways to keep troops safe and hidden from threats, who knows what the next camo pattern will be?

Oops, I Just Tweeted That Osama Bin Laden is Dead!

How Social Media Has Affected the Modern Day Battlefield

With continually developing technology, the ways in which members of the military connect with friends, family and the civilian world are changing. Think back to the days of World War I, where the only means for soldiers to keep in touch with their families was by writing letters. Since the Internet and social media were invented, nowadays communication is a whole lot quicker and easier.

Social Media and Osama Bin Laden

Social media was at the epicenter of the military operation to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. A coffee shop owner in Abbottobad Pakistan unknowingly tweeted commentary about the sound of the helicopters carrying Seal Team Six operators as they were en route to the Bin Laden compound. Sohaib Athar quite literally broke the first news about the Bin Laden operation when he tweeted “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)”

The tech savvy Sohaib Athar unwittingly tweeted the Bin Laden Raid! Athar later admitted he didn’t like the moment of fame brought brought about by his tweeting. He later confessed, “I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That’s all.”

Email and the Military

In the 1980’s email was introduced to workplaces, and the whole world’s communication changed forever. In those days, information was sent out via email, and it spread only as quickly as people checked their emails (not counting the time it took for dial-up Internet to connect, as well!). Now, with just one click on your cell phone, an enormous amount of potentially crucial information can reach millions of people within seconds.

This has had a tremendous impact on the way the military operates. Social media is not something which can be ignored; the majority of serving members of the military have grown up with social media. It has to be accepted and embraced as it has become such a big part of everyday life. The Department of Defense did exactly that in 2010, making social media accessible to service men and women on work computers.

Dissemination of Official Military Information

The cause for concern comes in where there is such a fine line between what information is official, and what is not. Twenty or thirty years ago, an official statement was made, and that was taken as fact. Fast forward to now, and anyone can post information, thoughts, opinions, viewpoints, experiences, pictures and hearsay, which some people may mistakenly take to be an official statement. This can be damaging, and even dangerous.

Operations Security – OPSEC

As it has become so much easier for information to enter the public domain, soldiers have also been placed at a much higher risk than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. It was much easier to keep details of their locations and operations secret before the days of social media. Information was kept on a need-to-know basis. These days, with the uploading of a single picture or a simple message posted about homecomings, details are put out there which can potentially put soldiers’ lives at risk, if it gets into the wrong hands. Once it has been sent into cyberspace, there is no way to get it back, and even if it is deleted, there’s no way of knowing just who might have seen it or what website archived it. This is one of the major downsides to social media and the military, as it’s so hard to tackle. There are guidelines for service personnel and their families on how to conduct themselves online, but this is certainly something which soldiers of years gone by never even had to think about. Always remember operational security when posting to social media sites.

Whether we like it or not, social media has affected all of our lives. It is something which the military has had to tackle head on, and it definitely has its advantages. On one hand, the ability to release information quickly and easily is a useful tool for the Department of Defense. On the other hand, there are always risks surrounding what information is released and when. Keeping in touch with friends and family is always a plus point, but communicating with potentially dangerous individuals is risky. It seems as though social media has both advantages and disadvantages for the military. It is, however, something that they don’t really have a choice about. Social media is growing exponentially these days, or so it seems. When you consider how far technology has brought us over the last thirty years, where will the next thirty take us?

Father’s Day for a Military Dad

Father’s Day for a Military Dad

When someone joins the military, it is not just that individual who takes on the military lifestyle, the whole family is affected. There is a huge strain on families who spend so much time apart, especially the children who may be too young to understand why their parents have to leave. That’s why It is so important to make the most of Father’s Day. It is an opportunity for kids to show their dads how they feel, so that they can strengthen their relationship.

It is an all too common sight for military families to have the dad deployed over Father’s Day. This means that not only do the dads and children already feel distanced, but it is even more difficult for the kids to show their fathers love and appreciation, as they’re so far away. It can be an incredibly lonely time for all members of the family. N oone likes to miss those big holidays.

However, It is important to make the most of what you can. Even the smallest of home comforts can make deployments easier for military dads. By sending a special Father’s Day care package, there’s no reason why a deployed soldier can’t experience some Father’s Day love! Pack in special treats from home or homemade gifts from the kids to make it all that more meaningful.

It is true that it may not always be possible to buy the biggest, fanciest gifts for military dads on Father’s Day, especially if they’re deployed. However, it shouldn’t matter. The media tries to make everything so commercial and pushes us into buying meaningless gifts for our dads, that sometimes we forget the real reason for the occasion. Military dads might be away, or they might have to travel a lot, but isn’t that the perfect way to make it really personal? Sure, you might not be able to send some expensive gift like society expects you to, but sending and receiving small, well thought out, handmade gifts will mean so much more to both dads and kids.

For those military dads who are lucky enough to be at home for Father’s Day, feel blessed. Being able to spend quality time together is so special, and it is just amplified on Father’s Day. This is definitely an opportunity to make the most of. Kids, shower your dads with love and appreciation, as that will keep him going while he’s away. Dads, take this chance to make sure your children know how much you love them!

Spending time with family is one of the biggest sacrifices that military dads have to make. They don’t get to spend nearly enough time with their children. Despite this, it is still a time to be embraced and celebrated by all military children, no matter where around the world their dads are. Father’s Day (which falls on Sunday June 15 this year), should be a reminder for military dads that their children love them no matter what. It is been said about lovers and it applies to children and their dads, too. Love knows no bounds.