Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Camouflage uniforms - some random thoughts

While reading a post on The Angry Staff Officer - which I highly recommend - about military uniforms (link here) I spotted his disparaging comment about  the US Army's original digital camo only being of use "as long as you were operating in an environment purely made up of gravel." This reminded me of my own (very limited) experience of such things.  I am not, as most of you know, a military professional but as well as pushing toys around I did for a few years indulge in the not unrelated hobby of airsofting.  Or skulking in the woods shooting my friends with replica rifles which fire plastic pellets.  Now whatever you think about this, it did give me the opportunity to evaluate various types of camo uniform in  different environments.  An early lesson was that even large blokes in civvies can easily be concealed in the right terrain, as was the case during an early outing at COW about 10 years ago.

Most of the events I attended took place in woodland areas between West Yorkshire and Northamptonshire so here are my thoughts on the camo options I used and witnessed.

Woodland DPM - British.  
As you might expect, this is very effective in British woodland areas.  It has the added bonus of being readily available (here in the UK at least) and astonishingly cheap!

Desert DPM - British
Predictably poor in lush woodland but surprisingly effective in winter - if a little chilly!  Not quite as easy to come by as the green DPM.

Flecktarn - German 
On balance, this is the best woodland camo I have seen.  The dappled pattern is very effective whatever the weather.  An astonishing variety if kit is available in this pattern and it is still quite cheap.  Like other camo material it does fade and my own Flecktarn rig has no two parts in quite the same shade!  The photo below shows a typical Fleck outfit in 'action.'

Strichtarn - East German
On the face of it this seems to be a pretty ineffective pattern.  However it's a lot better than you'd think!  I and another in similar gear once hid in 3-foot high grass while the enemy wandered about only a few feet away.
I'm not sure how easy it is to track down these days but mine was bought very cheaply some years ago.  While a little rough around the edges compared with western kit it seems pretty robust and generally well made.
Strichtarn in action!
Fleck (left) and Strichtarn at a range of about 10 metres.

ACU - US Army early 2000s
I'd like to say I've saved the best 'till last.  However.....
I fully understand that ACU was designed for a specific environment - I just hope it wasn't woodland.  We had a guy turn up at an airsoft event some years ago clad from head to toe on a snazzy new ACU outfit - complete with all the accessories and an expensive M-4 replica.  Even in a closely wooded area he must have been visible from space.
I never found out his name - we spent the whole day just calling him 'Target'....


JLee118 said...

The ACU uniform was the army's first attempt at a multicam uniform that could be used in any terrain-climate. Unfortunately it only really worked in urban terrian.

Chris Kemp said...

Shape, Shine, Shadow, Shilhouette (sic)... Sh*t, I'm shot! was the doggeral if I recall correctly :-)

Regards, Chris.

jim pollard said...

The U.S. Navy has a BLUE digital camo introduced in recent years (I left the Navy in 1987, so everything after that is recent years.)

Think about this.

It doesn't camouflage you on land. It would only camouflage you in water. But, as a sailor, if you find yourself in the water, camouflage is what you DON'T want. You don't want to blend in, you want to be SEEN. So they can haul your a** OUT of the water.

Amazing. Or, would be, if I didn't know these people and how they think.

Tim Gow said...

I expect it was fantastic in an arid urban environment.

Tim Gow said...

Chris Kemp
I knew I could rely on you for a down-to -earth comment!

Tim Gow said...

Jim Pollard
I'm sure this seemed like a good idea to someone. Possibly the guy who owns the clothing contractor...

Fatman said...

Come on guys we all know the Navy camo was issued because the sailors had DPM envy and wanted kewl fatigues like the other service men.