Camouflage, or cryptic coloration, is a natural adaptation in the animal kingdom to help animals survive. Camouflage is a technique that began to be used in the military when trench and aerial warfare became part of military strategy, and it is also used by hunters. The term is derived from the French word camoufler, “to disguise.” This technique has been used not only as part of clothing but to hide installations, vehicles and more. Camouflage is an important factor that has played a part during various periods of history.
1898: U.S. troops smeared themselves and their blue uniforms with mud during the Spanish-American War.
1902: The U.S. Army changed its summer uniforms to brown khaki. Their winter uniforms became olive drab. Blue was kept for special occasions.
1915: France was defeated by Germany and abandoned its white gloves and red pants for a new look in the world’s first military team using stealth attire.
World War I: A change in military tactics gave rise to the implementation of tactical dress.
World War II: Military personnel used netting, smoke and foliage to conceal important locations such as airports, oil tankers and factories. Marines in the Solomon Islands wore “frog” patterns. The pattern was also used on shelters and over helmets and ponchos.
An example of World War II era camouflage Frog Skin:
1960s: The “boonie suit” became preferred by military personnel. Also popular were the tiger-stripe pattern and the commercial duck-hunter pattern. Tiger stripe was favored by the Navy SEALs, Green Berets and Special Forces units.
1970s: Camo began to interest the masses. Jim Crumley’s “Trebark” design was featured in almost every outdoor catalog. In the military, the black, brown, green and khaki M81 woodland was developed and became the new standard.
1980s: Camouflage went teen. Two disparate groups, hunters and teenagers, wore various patterns of camouflage. For the military, “Woodland” was officially introduced and was worn in the Grenada Invasion. The “chocolate chip” desert-shaded uniform was used during the Gulf War. It used dark brown and gray with black specs in its pattern. Other versions were developed that offered a muted version.
2001: The Marine Corps used MARPAT, a pixilated pattern of small, square blocks of color. It could be seen in all branches of the military.
2004 and beyond: The Universal Camouflage Pattern was introduced. It was a mix of tan, green and gray that helps soldiers in multiple environments. It was worn during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Afterward, the pattern was subdued, using beige and brown instead of tan and gray, and was used by all combatant commands.
Modern or UCP camo(Universal Camouflage Pattern):
Currently: New technology affords the ability to hide larger structures from prying eyes and prevents other means of detection. Vinyl-adhesive photographs can conceal bridges from aerial view. New patents use light-emitting diodes and small cameras in their efforts. Another patented fabric prevents the detection of body heat from infrared radar.
Many people wear camouflage colors and prints today. They may like the style or be taking pride in the military accomplishments of our armed forces. The colors and prints can also be found in more obscure neon, hot bright and pink colors and are seen in ready-to-wear apparel and couture. Some of most popular camo prints these days in fashion and hunting are: Mossy Oak New Break-Up, Realtree Hardwoods, Realtree Xtra, Desert Camo, and camo tee and many more. Most of these patterns or trademarked or copyrighted.