21st Century Digital Uniforms
For two decades beginning in 1981, all four American military branches wore the same woodland camouflage utility uniform, known as the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). In 2001, the Marine Corps departed from the other services with a new uniform whose most distinctive feature is its digitally generated camouflage pattern, resembling computer pixels when viewed closely.
Woodland MARPAT-clad Marine with 1st Squad, Golf Co, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn, 5th Marine Regiment patrols with a breaching kit during an exercise for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in San Clemente, CA, 25 January 2008.
U.S. Armed Services' Digital Camo Uniforms
U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team stationed out of Fort Wainwright, AL, arrive at Rockhampton Airport in Australia for exercise Talisman Sabre 2007, 14 June 2007.
The Marine Pattern (MARPAT) uniform impressed the other services, backed by research that proved the digital pattern blends better into the environment than the traditional "large splotch" camo design. By 2008, all the U.S. armed services adopted digital camouflage patterns, except that the Coast Guard ODU remained a solid blue. Led by the Marine Corps and most widely used by the Army, the digital combat uniform became the new symbol of American troops, deployed around the world.
The uniforms had many improvements over what they replaced, produced with modern wash and wear fabrics, offering better design of closures and pockets as well as better fit. For the Army and Marines the digital camouflage patterns were shown to be superior for concealment in the field. The Navy and Air Force did not have the same need for concealment, but the patterned uniforms were still superior for routine duty and its hazards. For all the services, a fresh new look and distinctive style were good for morale.
Specific details about the digital camouflage uniforms of the individual services are described on these Olive-Drab.com pages:
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