MARPAT The Marine Camouflage Pattern
The marine pattern is a military camouflage that combines patterns at more than two scales, using a computer for creating digital patterns of camouflage. The purpose of the patterns is to create an illusion of concealment over large scales or distances. The Marines of the United States of America use the patterns on their military uniforms.
Designed in 2001, the US Marine introduced the pattern in 2005 using the Combat Utility Uniform of the Marine Corps and replaced the former Utility Uniform used for camouflage. The inspiration of the concept and design of the pattern is from CADPAT (Canadian Disruptive Pattern),
which is a camouflage pattern digitally generated and used by the Armed Forces of Canada on their military uniforms to avoid detection by night vision devices (NVG) at night.
The marine camouflage pattern is a result of tiny color pixels that are rectangular in shape. You are probably wondering why so much detail is put into the marine pattern. The design is superior and more effective than other normal uniform patterns because it imitates the natural environment's color, texture, and coarse boundaries. This helps the marines hide in plain sight, especially in forest or desert settings.
You can also refer to the marine pattern as the digital pattern because of the numerous pixels that combine to form the design.
Since 2002, various U.S military services use the pattern on their uniform and equipment. They include:
- The Marine Corps of the United States of America as well as the Reserve and the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps
- The Navy of the United States, including the chaplains, specialists of religious programs, and corpsmen
- Naval of New York
- Maritime of Texas
The marine pattern has come in handy in various wars that the United States participated in, namely:
- The Afghanistan war that is ongoing since 2001 up until now (*2020)
- The War in Iraq that lasted from 2003 to 2011 and overthrew the Saddam Hussein government
- The war of Russo-Georgia that involved Georgia, Russia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia in 2008
Seeing how effective MARPAT was in the wars, the government of the United States patented the pattern as well as the details of its manufacturing process. This is why the U.S military uniform is unique worldwide.
The rules and regulations of the patent require that the marine pattern and any marine items that have the pattern, such as the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) and the Improved Load Bearing Equipment, be supplied by manufacturers that are authorized by the government. The marine pattern and all equipment incorporating the pattern are not for commercial sale to the general public.
MARPAT was also favored because it not only helped the marines conceal themselves from their enemies, but it also acted as an identifier to all adversaries that whoever wore the uniform with the distinct patterns was a marine.
During the launch of the marine pattern, a marine spokesperson stated that they value MARPAT and hold it in high regard because they want their enemies to fear them once they spot the uniform from miles away. The pattern helped embolden the marines and gave them the courage to face all their adversaries. In order for MARPAT to remain exclusive, the Marine Corps of the U.S restricted the pattern's use in other divisions of the military of the United States and only allowed a section of the United States Navy to use it.
Development of the Marine Pattern
If you are wondering who the geniuses behind the marine pattern are, then your curiosity is about to be satisfied. Their names are:
- Luisa DeMorais
- Gabriel R. Patricio
- John Joseph Heisterman, JR.
- Kenneth G Henley
- Timothy O'Neill
- Deirdre E.Townes
- Anabela Dugas
The idea of using tiny patches of color rather than large swatches is not a foreign concept. During the Second World War, German troops used patterns similar to the modern Flecktarn, which were made up of similar tiny patches of color on the uniform to help mimic the surroundings and offer camouflage.
The pattern called CADPAT was first developed by Canadian Forces, and it is the CADPAT design from which MARPAT was formed. Two scout snipers on active duty of the U.S marine called Kenneth G. Henley and John Joseph Heisterman, JR. assisted Timothy O'Neill's team of designers to go over 150 different patterns before finally selecting three samples that met the requirements they needed.
Among the three final samples, two of them consisted of the tigerstripe, which was a group of patterns for camouflage created for use in close range during the jungle war by the Armed Forces of South Vietnamese.
The other sample was the Brushstroke of Rhodesia, which was used as a camouflage pattern by the security forces of Rhodesia in 1965.
If you observe modern MARPAT, you will notice some of the tigerstripe influence.
The three samples were then restructured and redesigned with new shapes and creative blending of colors to come up with unique patterns that can camouflage in environments of different ranges. The patterns were tested in the field in different environments: jungle and desert, day and night. The designers also tested the patterned uniform with different optics like the night vision to ensure that one would remain undetectable. The designers concluded that when the uniform is wet, then viewed using night vision illuminated with IR (infrared), the patterns would remain undetectable.
Development of the marine pattern began in April in the year 2000, and field-testing followed in early 2001. The patent of MARPAT was filed in June 2001, and the patent of the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform followed closely in November 2001.
The complete new MARPAT uniform was first used in January 2002 in a camp called Lejeune in North California. Up until then, only the uniform had the patterns, but in 2003, helmets covered with MARPAT patterns were produced.
The entire process of MARPAT, from its invention to its incorporation on marine uniforms and equipment like gun sling and tactical gear, took around 18 months, breaking a record of the fastest amount of time a camouflage pattern was developed in the U.S military.
Colors and design
Before the creators of MARPAT settled on its final current design, many color variations were considered but were never printed into textile. A modified tigerstripe version of the uniform worn in the war in Vietnam was among the final samples of pattern, but MARPAT proved to be superior in camouflaging in all environments. The digital pattern of MARPAT is meant to confuse the eyes and render them incapable of distinguishing any shape or pattern.
The MARPAT designs that made it to field-testing were Woodland, Urban, and Desert. Though Urban was eventually set aside, the U.S Marine kept all the rights of the design so that it cannot be used anywhere by any military service in the world. The Marine Corps adopted the patterns of Woodland and Desert and replaced the Three Color Desert pattern of the United States as well as the United States Woodland pattern.
The marine uniform and all equipment such as tactical gear that use MARPAT are produced in brown: the coyote shade because it is a color tone common in the patterns of woodland and desert.
With the current amount of fake commodities in the market, it is not a shock that you may come across a fake marine uniform. How will you tell if it is real? The real uniform with the original MARPAT design has a tiny "Eagle, Globe, and Anchor" emblem integrated above the letters "USMC" in the patterns of woodland and desert.
How has MARPAT benefited the Marine Corps?
MARPAT has played a significant role in helping the Marine Corps hide from enemies in war or in hostile environments. This has saved the lives of many soldiers.
Most people like to blend in and fit in their social groups. MARPAT takes this logic to a new level by helping marine soldiers blend into their surroundings, whether in the woodlands or the desert. A soldier who knows how to blend in expertly with the surroundings can remain undetected for hours under the normal untrained eye (Macro-Camo).
MARPAT has simplified the disguising efforts of marine soldiers because of its camouflage features, thus enabling marines to conceal themselves with vegetation or branches to avoid exposure. (Micro-Camo)
Features of a MARPAT uniform that make it the best for camouflage
A MARPAT uniform helps to conceal a soldier's shape, get rid of the perfect symmetries, and allow them to go undiscovered in any environment.
The silhouette capitalizes on the background. The background is what makes the features and edges of an object to be distinctive. The marine pattern allows the uniform to blend in with the background, and therefore, no silhouette is formed.
When surfaces reflect light, they appear bright and attract attention. MARPAT makes the uniform dull because of the muted colors used in the design, and therefore a soldier will not draw attention to himself or herself even when they are in an open place with sunshine.
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