MARPAT

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A 2003 drawing showcasing the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform in desert and woodland-camouflaged variants.

MARPAT (short for MARine PATtern) is a digital camouflage pattern in use with the United States Marine Corps, introduced with the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU), which replaced the Camouflage Utility Uniform. Its design and concept are based on the Canadian CADPAT pattern. The pattern is formed of small rectangular pixels of color. In theory, it is a far more effective camouflage than standard uniform patterns because it mimics the dappled textures and rough boundaries found in natural settings. It is also known as the "digital pattern" or "digi-cammies" because of its micropattern (pixels) rather than the old macropattern (big blobs).

The United States government has patented MARPAT, including specifics of its manufacture.[1] By regulation, the pattern and items incorporating it, such as the MCCUU and ILBE backpack, are to be supplied by authorized manufacturers only and are not for general commercial sale, although imitations are available such as "Digital Woodland Camo" or "Digital Desert Camo".

MARPAT was also chosen because it distinctively identifies its wearers as Marines to their adversaries, while simultaneously helping its wearers remain concealed. This was demonstrated by a Marine spokesman who at the launch of MARPAT, who stated: "We want to be instantly recognized as a force to be reckoned with. We want them to see us coming a mile away in our new uniforms."[2] As such, the US Marine Corps restricts use of the camouflage, preventing its use in most other divisions of the United States military.

Development[edit]

A U.S. Marine showcasing the MCCUU in woodland MARPAT in 2001.
Woodland variant of MARPAT.
Desert variant of MARPAT.
U.S. Marines wearing snow-patterned MARPAT overgarments at the Mountain Warfare Training Center.

The concept of using miniature swatches of color as opposed to large splotches is not new; in World War II, German troops used various patterns similar to the current German Flecktarn, which involved similar small dabs of color on a uniform to provide camouflage.

The Canadian Forces originally developed the pattern, called CADPAT and assisted the United States with its pattern. The USMC design team in charge of this process went through over 150 different camo patterns before selecting three samples that met their initial objectives. These were two versions of Tiger stripes and an older design of Rhodesian DPM. The influence of the Tiger stripes can still be seen in the final MARPAT. These three samples were then reconstructed using new shapes and unique color blends that would allow a more effective uniform in a great range of environments.

The new patterns were then field tested in different environments, day and night, with night vision and various optics. MARPAT did exceptionally well in their wet uniform test when viewed with night vision while illuminated with IR, where normally patterns appear as a solid. The MARPAT patent lists U.S. Army research into fractal pattern camouflage as the basis for MARPAT.

The MARPAT pattern was chosen in a run-off against seven other patterns at the USMC Scout Sniper Instructor School.[3]

Field testing of MARPAT and the MCCUU began in 2001. The patent for the MARPAT pattern was filed on June 19, 2001,[4] whereas the patent for the MCCUU uniform was filed on November 7, 2001.[5] The uniform made its official debut at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on January 17, 2002,[6] and the changeover was completed on October 1, 2004, a year ahead of the original requirement date set in 2001, of October 1, 2005.[7][8][9][10] The MARPAT uniform was officially launched as standard issue to the recruits of 3rd BN Mike Company in 2002 at MCRD San Diego and continues to be the standard issue to date.

Design and colors[edit]

While it is rumored that the Canadian government assisted with the design of MARPAT, this is not true. Among hundreds of commercial and military patterns considered, a small 6 inch by 6 inch sample of CADPAT was the only influence that CADPAT had in the design of the MARPAT pattern. A similar pattern to CADPAT was constructed graphically with the assistance of a textile graphic design company in Massachusetts. Different ratios and variations of colors were tested before final candidate patterns were actually printed to textile for field trials. A modified version of Vietnam tiger stripe also made it to final trials but was eliminated due to MARPAT being superior in all environments. The purpose of the digitized pattern is to create visual "noise" and prevent the eye from identifying any visual templates. Basically, MARPAT looks like nothing. When compared to a white background the MARPAT does look surprising and would seem to catch attention, but when used in an operative environment, its textured appearance and lack of hard edges make it more effective than traditional patterns.

There were initially three MARPAT patterns tested: Woodland, Desert, and Urban. Only the Woodland and Desert patterns were adopted by the Marine Corps, replacing the U.S. Woodland pattern and the U.S. Three Color Desert pattern. Webbing and equipment worn with MARPAT Woodland and MARPAT Desert is produced in Coyote Brown, a mid-tone color common to both the woodland and desert patterns. Although a digital snow pattern has also been adopted on cold weather training over-garments, this uses a different pattern from the Canadian company Hyperstealth.[11]

Authentic MARPAT material is distinguishable by an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem incorporated into the pattern, in both the Woodland and Desert patterns.[12]

Similar designs[edit]

U.S. Marine wearing Desert MARPAT (left) and sailor wearing the NWU (right)

MARPAT is similar to Canadian Forces CADPAT, which was first developed in the 1990s.[13]

The United States Army has used the same shapes into its digital Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniform. ACU's pattern differs in that it uses a much paler three-color scheme of sage green, grey and sand.

The United States Air Force has designed its own Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) using a standard tiger stripe pattern and slight variation on the color scheme of ACU.

The United States Navy announced approval for a digital "BDU-style" work uniform in late 2008. The Navy Working Uniform (NWU) was chosen by surveyed sailors for consistency and longer life, while the blue-grey-black Type I pattern was designed for aesthetic purposes rather than camouflage to disguise them at sea. In January 2010, the Navy began considering new Navy Working Uniform patterns modified from MARPAT, named Type II and Type III, desert and woodland respectively. The Woodland pattern was actually an earlier colouration of the MARPAT scheme, not adopted following USMC trials.[14] These patterns are overall darker than their respective MARPAT progenitors, modified with different color shades,[15] and addressed the fact that the blue and grey Type I pattern was not meant for a tactical environment (the Battle Dress Uniform in M81 woodland and Desert Camouflage Uniform are still used for this purpose).[16] Backlash from Marines, including an objection from former Commandant Conway, led to restrictions when NAVADMIN 374/09 was released:[17] Type II pattern to Naval Special Warfare personnel, while Type III is restricted to Navy ground units.[18]

Users[edit]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.google.com/patents/US6805957
  2. ^ Blechman, Hardy; Newman, Alex (2004). DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material. Department of Publications, Maharishi. ISBN 0-9543404-0-X. 
  3. ^ Combat Utility Uniform Camouflage Considerations
  4. ^ "Camouflage pattern for sheet material and uniforms US D491372 S". Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Camouflage U.S. Marine corps utility uniform: pattern, fabric, and design US 6805957 B1". Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ "New uniform debuts today". Around the Fleet. Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. January 17, 2002. Retrieved September 19, 2013. 
  7. ^ Jontz, Sandra (February 24, 2001). "Marines' followed Canadians' example in use of digitally-designed 'cammies'". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved June 6, 2002. 
  8. ^ Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform
  9. ^ Commandant of the United States Marine Corps (September 22, 2004). "MARADMIN 412/04: MANDATORY POSSESSION DATES FOR THE MARINE CORPS COMBAT UTILITY UNIFORMS (MCCUU) AND MARINE CORPS COMBAT BOOTS (MCCB)". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved September 29, 2004. 
  10. ^ Oliva, Mark (July 3, 2001). "Officials went to the source to ensure new Marine uniform pleased troops". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved January 7, 2013. 
  11. ^ Snow Camouflage Uniform data sheet
  12. ^ Eagle, Globe and Anchor example, Magna Fabrics.
  13. ^ Jontz, Sandra (February 24, 2001). "Marines' followed Canadians' example in use of digitally-designed 'cammies'". Stars and Stripes. Archived from the original on December 27, 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  14. ^ "Two New Navy Working Uniforms Announced". United States Navy. January 8, 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  15. ^ McCullough, Amy (January 20, 2010). "Your thoughts: Navy may try Corps-like camo". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  16. ^ "Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Concepts Frequently Asked Questions". Task Force Uniform Public Affairs. United States Navy. January 13, 2005. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  17. ^ "NAVADMIN 374/09: Navy Working Uniform Type II and III". Chief of Naval Operations. CDR Salamander. January 4, 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Navy Times staff (February 22, 2010). "Sailor Outcry over Desert Camo Denial". Navy Times (Marine Corps Times). 

External links[edit]