Thursday, August 07, 2003

Camouflage, Digital, Blue and otherwise

Last night on the History Channel was an interesting program about the history of camouflage. I won’t go into the whole story, other than to say that the world got seriously into it in the early part of the 20th century.

Which brings me to my two points. First, the US Marine Corps has a new ‘digital’ camouflage pattern that is amazingly effective. Watching a squad of Marines deploy from an armored personnel carrier and lay down in a field, they almost literally disappeared into the background. Another neat feature is that some sort of anti-infrared feature is built in to the fabric to limit the ability of night vision devices to spot someone wearing the uniform. The program was somewhat vague as to details, but a short on-screen demonstration was shown that supported the claim. The last little ‘neat-o’ moment was when they showed a closeup of the pattern and pointed out that every 18 inches a miniature Marine Corps globe and anchor logo is displayed. This logo completely blends in and becomes part of the pattern. Turns out the US Marines have trademark protected the pattern, so no one else can produce an exact copy.

This camouflage went from design to production in less than two years, which shows just how serious they are about having the best tools for the job.

Now the Air Force is introducing their new blue camouflage BDU (Battle Dress Uniform). I mentioned this before, but the new link has a better picture and updated information. The fact that it’s ‘blue’ doesn’t bother me so much as the pattern. This is ‘tiger stripe’ camouflage that became popular during the Vietnam conflict. If you’re going to design a uniform around new camouflage colors, couldn’t you at least use a pattern that isn’t 30 freaking years old?!?!?!

Once again, the US Air Force chooses style over substance.