Digital camouflage is often reffered to as "disruptive" camouflage. This is because of the effect the the digital pattern has on the human eye. The digital pattern as you may already know is comprised of thousands of small squares (pixels as they are more commonly known) of various colors, which for the camouflage pattern. Not only are these digital patterned uniforms easier to make, they also have a suprising and profound effect on the human eye. The human eye has a startaling amount of trouble focusing on the thousands of tiny squares comprising a uniform, thus making it more difficult to keep aim at a person wearing a digital uniform. you may not conciously notice this effect it has on your eye, but trust it is there. Not only do the digital patterned uniforms blend in quite well with their respective backgrounds, they they also as said above make it harder for an enemy to get a good shot at if if your are spotted. Digital Camouflage is being adopted my all US branches of the military, aswell as many other foriegn militaries. The digital camouflage pattern is commonly known as "digital pattern" or "digie cammies", pronouced as: "dih-jee".
MARPAT is an acronymn which takes the place of the words "MARine Disruptive PATtern". MARPAT is a trademark of the United States Marine Corps; and is the new design currently in use by the Marine Corps. MARPAT was designed on the basis of CADPAT (Canadian Patern) after the Marine Corps higher brass saw the results of NATO tests made of the new CADPAT design in 1998. The colors used are based on Tigerstripe camouflage, however not the Vietnam issue pattern; the colors balck and brown have been swapped among other various changes. The MARPAT uniform is produced by highly complex fractal equations, resulting in a non-repeating pattern. In addition to the Marines trademarking the name, they are also in the process of patenting the new camouflage patterns. Unlike the Army Combat Uniform, MARPAT BDU's are not sold to civilians, although imitations are available. Authentic MARPAT material is distinguishable by a small EGA emblem (Eagle Globe and Anchor [USMC]) incorporated into the pattern. As of 2004 the woodland MARPAT uniform has been used in active duty by the Marine Corps. At first, the MARPAT uniform encountered a resistance from Marines, however after further field time, the uniform was widely accepted into all USMC forces. If compared to a white background, the MARPAT uniform would look surprisingly obvious, and would seem to catch attention easially, but when used in an operative environment, its textured appearance and lack of hard edges created by large splotches make it much more effective than traditional patterns.
The MARPAT uniform has also been designed to be more combat effective than older designs. The most obvious change are the pockets; the older BDU's has symmetrical breast and waist pockets, the MARPAT uniform however has breast and waist pockets which are tilted inward, towards the center of the body, this allows for easier access during combat situations. Also, this slant in the pocket design allows for the wearer's hand opposite the pocket can access the pocket when a vest is worn. Another addition on the subject of pockets are the sleeve pockets located on either shoulder; this allows for the wearer to access the pockets regardless of any gear being worn. Another improvement is the addition of pouches to allow easier replacement of elbow and knee pads. The entire MARPAT uniform is also made in a better form of construction thus allowing it to withstand higher levels of beating. In addition, the MARPAT uniform features a anti-infared coating that reduces there visibility to night vision goggles, this can be a major advantaje during night ops. The Marine Corps also uses a new type of combat boot; they are made of flesh-out brown leather as opposed to the black "spit-shine" combat boots. The newer brown boots feature an embosses EDA of the outer heel, thus identifying them as USMC issue combat boots.
Accepted for use in 2004 by all forces of the USMC, the desert MARPAT uniform is perfectly similar to woodland MARPAT in every respect, with exception of color. Th desert MARPAT uniform consists of 4-5 shades of brown and tan.
The urban MARPAT uniform was set to entered into service for the USMC in 2004, however was never accepted. It is said to be a better alternative for urban combat than the urban BDU however.
The ACU (Army Combat Uniform) is, like MARPAT, a digital pattern camouflage combat uniform. It is on occasion refered to as UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern). The uniform blands the colors, green, tan and grey together thus theoretically enabling it to work efficiently in a woodland, desert and urban envirement. It also consists of numerous design improvements based on the imput of US Army soldiers. The replacement of the Army's current woodland BDU pattern with the ACU was set to start in April of 2005; however the process began approximately two months earlier than scheduled through RFI (Rapid Fielding Initiative) and was scheduled to be completed by December 2007. The ACU and its component materials will be manufactured by the existing industrial infrastructure in the U.S., which produces the current battle dress uniform.
There is a large number of improvemetns over the BDU applied to the ACU. First of all, the hook and loop systems (velcro); all patches, rank insignia and name tapes on the ACU are equiped with a hook and loop system providing for easy application and replacement of patches. At first the addition was praised by Army soldiers, however after longer periods of ttime in the field, these hook and loop systems only proved to fail constantly, and need replacement after medium periods of time in the field. On the subject of patches, there is now a small place to put a rank insignia on the breast bone area of the ACU jacket. The ACU also includes the new IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) system; this is a very small patch on each shoulder pocket which is highly visible to infared light thus allowing for soldiers with night vision goggles to identify eachother. The ACU also sports a fancy front zipper closure instead of buttons; this allows for quick removal and wearing of the ACU jacket. The pockets of the ACU are tilted, just as on the MARPAT uniform for easy access when a veast is worn. The cuffs of the sleeves also use the hook and loop system to make for easy adjustment and removal. A neat addition to the left shoulder pocket is a 3-pen holder. Like the MARPAT, the ACU also has small pouches for insertion and replacement of knee and elbow pads. The thigh pockets on the ACU trousers are also tilted forward for maximum accesability. And finally, the ACU also now requires the wearing of tan suede combat boots, either hot weather or temperate weather versions.
As said above, the ACU is meant to be used in desert, urban and woodland envirements. However according to the word of many US Army soldiers, the use of the ACU in a woodland area during combat would be suicide. Because of its light colors, the ACU would never blend in correctly into a woodland envirement. After trying out this theory myself with issue ACU's, I found the same result; using the ACU in a woodland area is the equivalent of wearing full black clothing in a field of knee high bright brown hay, it just doesn't work.
The woodland BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) pattern is not a digital pattern and is overall the most commonly used camouflage pattern in the United States, and possibly most of the world. It is somewhat similar to the DPM which will be discussed later on in this article; however the colors (black, brown, tan and green) appear more as blotches than 'brush strokes'. This is the camouflage pattern used since 1981 though present by the U.S Armed Forces. The woodland BDU is currently being fazed out of use by the military however is still occasionally seen worn by soldiers. This camouflage pattern, as the name implies, was meant for use in woodland terrain only; which is one reason it has been phased out. Though being phased out by most military branches, the U.S. Air Force is still issuing the woodland BDU and selling the uniforms at BX's; however the air force does plan to move onto a different camouflage pattern known as the ABU (Airman Battle Uniform) which will be discussed later. Most would argue that the camouflaging ability of the woodland BDU is outstanding, and through my experience I have found it to be.
The woodland BDU uniform consists of trousers and a 'blouse'. The trousers have two cargo pockets located on each outer thigh, which can be opened and close using two OD buttons on each pocket; these thigh pockets are horizontally aligned to provide best accessibility for the wearer. Also on the trousers, there are two standard pockets on the front just below the belt line similar to what would be found on blue jeans; these pockets do not have any closure system. The last of the pockets on the trousers are the two 'butt pockets' which can be closed using two OD buttons, and are located in an area as the name implies. The trousers consist also of 7 belt loops, two straps to tighten the waist, five buttons in the fly and one flap that can be buttoned up to be across the cross area on the inside. As for the blouse, there are four simple pockets, the two upper pockets (breast pockets) and the two lower pockets, all of which can also be buttoned shut with two OD buttons. These four pockets are horizontally aligned. The blouse has five buttons in the front 'button line', the top of which is rarely buttoned. Also, the cuff consists of two-three buttons and a small flap used to adjust the size of the cuff. Last but not least, there are double layers of cloth on the elbows and knees of this uniform.
One small note I must include: You may notice small lighter colored lines in a grid pattern all over your woodland BDU, this grid is known as rip-stop, which as the name implies, stops small rips in your uniform from becoming larger. This rip-stop is made of a stronger material than the regular cloth used for the rest of the uniform.
The DBDU (Desert Battle Dress Uniform) was the basic desert patterned uniform used by the U.S. Armed Forces during the Persian Gulf War era of the 1990's. This camouflage pattern is also known as: chocolate chip camouflage, cookie dough camouflage, choc-chip or 6 color desert camouflage. This uniform got its many nick names from the fact that the camouflage pattern resembles chocolate chip cookie dough. This camouflage pattern consists of light tan, tan, brown, dark brown, black and white. The DBDU is constructed just as the Woodland BDU, the pockets are in the same positions, and generally the uniform is made out of the same material.
Though the DBDU became more known to the public during the Persian Gulf War, it began development in the 1960's. The U.S. military decided to begin the development of a desert type camouflage for the possible need that they may have to 'participate' in the Arab-Israeli conflicts, the DBDU was mainly being developed in the southwestern deserts of the U.S. When hostilities in the Middle East diminished the DBDU was put away for possible later use and was forgotten. It was not until the Persian Gulf War that the DBDU actually began to see full service. After the Persian Gulf War, FORSCOM soldiers in the Sinai Desert began to find that the black and white rock pattern on the camouflage increased the amount of contrast and thus reduced its effectiveness; not too long thereafter the DCU was developed (3 color desert camouflage).
The DCU (3 color desert camouflage or coffee stain camo) is more similar to the Woodland BDU than that of the DBDU, however instead of greens, blacks and browns, it hosts a tan, brown and greenish olive color. The DCU is now actually no longer in use and has been replaced by the ACU by the Army, and the Desert MARPAT uniform by the Marine Corps.
Concrete Jungle BDU:
Digital Tiger Stripe:
Desert Tiger Stripe:
(NOTE: This image is still being developed, and will be altered and updated at the same time as the written part of this article.)
This article will be continuosly updated with new information of different camouflage patterns.
Edited by Graham Abram, 17 October 2007 - 04:21 PM.