21st Century Camo Uniforms – the rest of the world

The ongoing American and British camouflage programmes have been getting lots of attention, but many other countries have been also changing / upgrading their camouflage uniforms in the early part of the 21st Century. 

The first big new development was when the Canadians introduced the world to the CADPAT pixelated camouflage pattern, and in effect re-wrote the rule book of camouflage pattern design.  Then the US Marine Corps adopted a completely new style of Combat and Utility Uniform that started an irreversible fashion trend – especially once the US Army adopted a broadly similar style in the ACU, which was then copied around the rest of the world as well. 

Interestingly, although Crye Precision really stirred things up with their radically re-styled combat clothing designs and multi-terrain “MultiCam” camouflage pattern, they’ve not had the wide-ranging impact on the uniform designs of the rest of the world that CADPAT / MARPAT and the MCCUU have had.

Other big influences on the introduction of new camo uniforms have been the ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As a result, there have been a whole lot of new desert camouflage patterns put in to service by European countries that don’t have any deserts on their home turf.

Worthy of a special note are the Russians.  Their military and para-military forces have been seen wearing a very wide range of new uniforms and camouflage patterns in recent years – this has led a lot of people to debate about what is “authentic issue” and what’s simply commercial.  The answer is that there is not such a clear line between the two – especially for special operations units, who can augment their “official issue” kit and clothing with privately (or unit purchased) items; particularly camouflage uniforms better suited to the types of operations they perform and the terrain where they operate.

What’s also especially interesting about the new Russian camo patterns is that several of them are based on revamped versions of WWII camouflage patterns – and in the case of the reversible “Chimera” uniform, even of the Waffen SS! 

Looking at all the developments around the world there are some other interesting points to note as well though:   

First of all, the sheer scale of activity in this field over the past few years is quite interesting.  I’ve been a student of camouflage combat uniforms for probably something like 30 years now, and have never seen so much activity or as many new developments as have been happening in the last few years. 

But its not just about “pretty new uniforms”, what’s really cool is how the individual soldier is now more and more being rightfully treated as an integrated, multi-purpose, system and is being given a full range of modernised, focussed, mission-adaptable kit accordingly.  Its nice to see the “cannon fodder” and “bullet catcher” days of the “poor bloody infantry” being consigned to the pages of history at last. 

Secondly, “digital” has clearly become a global craze – and whilst there are many patterns that are simply re-coloured copies of CADPAT, there are also quite a few that are more interesting and innovative. And some which don’t even merit the term.  In the cases of Kazahkstan and Lebanon, they’ve already adopted patterns that are very similar to the US Army’s UCP-Delta pattern now being tested in Afghanistan.

Thirdly, its interesting to note that only the Latvian Army has followed the US Army’s lead and adopted a single “universal” camouflage pattern – but the Saab-Barracuda designed Latvian “Legoflage” is probably a more effective pattern than UCP.  In every other case, countries have chosen the more traditional route of different colourations for different environments.

On the other hand, the French have completely updated the style and features of their combat uniform – but retained the standard CCE camouflage pattern.

Finally, I’ve only included uniforms that are actually being produced and used, even if just in field trials, by military forces.  I’ve not included any that are purely commercial ventures, or that only exist as a design or computer simulation.  I also realise that this article will out-of-date 5 minutes after I publish it, so I’ll be coming back from time to time to keep it up-to-date.

Right, with all that in mind, let’s hit the road for the Strike-Hold! Camouflage World Tour…

AFGHANISTAN

Army

 

  

Border Patrol

 

AUSTRALIA

Army / Air Force

 

Navy

 

AUSTRIA

Kampanzug 03 (official Austrian Bundesheer photos)

  

trial camouflage patterns (woodland pattern photo courtesy of Philip Thum)

 

BOSNIA

 

 

BULGARIA

 

Air Force

 

CHILE

Air Force Special Operations Forces

 

Army Special Operations Forces 

Marine Infantry

  

CHINA

 

COLUMBIA

 

CROATIA

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

 

ECUADOR 

 

ESTONIA

 

 

FINLAND

 

 

FRANCE

FELIN Trials Uniform

New Combat Uniform

 

 

Mountain Troops Snow Camo

 

GERMANY

Flecktarn 2005

 

SF trial pattern

 

GREECE

 

HUNGARY

 

JORDAN

Army / Air Force (left), Royal Guards (right)

Civil Defence

 

Customs

Public Security Directorate

 

Navy (left), Special Forces (right)

 

IRAN

 

IRAQ

Police

 

Army

Special Forces

 

ITALY

Army

 

Naval Special Forces

 

San Marco Brigade

Mountain Troops

 

GOI (Gruppo Operativo Incursori)

 

KAZAHKSTAN

 

KOREA (South)

 

LATVIA

 

 

 LEBANON

Airborne forces (photos courtesy of “Masss1”)

 

 SEALs (photos sent in by “Zaher”)

 

Special Forces (photo sent in by “Zaher”)

 

LITHUANIA

 

MACEDONIA

 

MEXICO

Army

Navy / Marines

 

Police

 

MONTENEGRO

 

NETHERLANDS

trial patterns

 

NORWAY 

 

PAKISTAN 

   

PAPUA-NEW GUINEA (trial patterns)

photos courtesy of Brad Turner – roggenwolf.com

 

PERU

 

PHILLIPINES

Army

Marines

Navy

National Police Special Action Force

 

POLAND

Special Forces

 

PORTUGAL

 

RUSSIA

Army

Border Guards

Special Operations Forces

 

 

Airborne forces

  

GRU – VDV 45th Detached Recon Regiment (thanks to Johannes for these photos)

 

FSB Alpha Group

SERBIA

 M10 digital camouflage

SINGAPORE

 

SLOVAKIA

 

SLOVENIA

 

 

SPAIN

new patterns

 

SWITZERLAND

 

 

THAILAND

 

TURKEY

 

UKRAINE

Special Forces

 

Airborne Forces

____________________________________________________________________________

 A special thanks to the members of MilitaryPhotos.net and the International Camouflage Uniform Society – too many to remember and mention by name – for providing such a rich source of up-to-date information.  And a very special note of thanks to Brad Turner and his excellent site Kamouflage.netits well worth a visit.



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