Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform
Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform (DPCU), also nicknamed Auscam or jelly bean camo is a five-colour military camouflage pattern used by the Australian Defence Force. It was developed and tested during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The first uniforms using the disruptive pattern camouflage (called Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform – DPCU) were issued in 1983 for test purposes. In 1986 the final production version was introduced with a number of changes. It is influenced partly by early US Jungle Camouflage patterns, such as "Duck Hunter"/"Frog-Skin". DPCU was developed following aerial photographs of the Australian terrain to determine which colours and patterns would be most suitable for camouflage uniforms.
The selected five colour pattern consists of a greenish sand coloured background with randomly arranged spots of orange-brown, mid-brown, leaf-green and very dark green overlaid. While a mid-grey tone was included in early test uniforms, this was omitted in later unifoms in favour of a second brown tone.
The standard DPCU works in areas from arid bushland through to tropical jungle all over Australia.
Since the finalisation of the colour scheme, the Army uniform was modified to the standard NATO format, with a single rank slide in the centre of the shirt, zip pockets on the shirt and pants instead of the button-flap original, and larger sleeve pockets to fit unit patches on.
Desert - DPDU
Officially named DPDU (Disruptive Pattern Desert Uniform), a DPCU variant designed for desert conditions using different colours, was first tested in 1998 at the Woomera Missile Test Site in South Australia.
The first version, from 2001, was printed in 3 colours (brown and grey on a tan background) with 1/3 of the normal pattern missing and rushed into issue for the Australian Special Air Service Regiment deployed to Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). A second version from a year later used 5 colours: brown, lime green, grey, and a very light light blue on a tan background. This was again issued to SASR in Afghanistan after the first version was found to be too light in colour for the terrain. This was followed by a third issue in: brown, grey, very light blue and purple on a yellow background. The cut was changed in the shirt with the bottom pockets being omitted and placed on the sleeves.
This was replaced in 2006 by the current-issue DPDU. The colours remain the same as the previous DPDU. Changes to the uniform include repositioning of shoulder straps to the chest, the changes of the chest pockets and cargo pockets from the button-fastened flap of the pocket to zips and minor changes to the sleeve pockets. This the current type issued to all ADF personnel serving overseas in arid/desert regions such as Iraq.
Midpoint - DPCU
A new DPDU variant known as 'Mid Point" was to be progressively introduced into selected service in Afghanistan (2010). Army chief Ken Gillespie toured Afghanistan showing off the new uniform. The pattern remained the same as that used for the DPCU and DPDU but with a light lime-yellow base colour, light grey, sand, olive-green and red-brown. The new variant was designed to overcome issues associated with operating in and around the "green belt" areas of Afghanistan (particularly in corn fields) where the DPDU was too light in colour but where the DPCU was too green for open areas. Trials however, showed that in most areas the original DPCU performed more effectively than the new Midpoint camouflage and it was not adopted. One criticism was that the new camouflage used colours that were still too biased towards desert operations. Australian special forces operating in Afghanistan have been seen wearing Crye's Multicam camouflage. A trial of MultiCam was undertaken and the decision made to broaden this trial for Australian operations in Afghanistan. In 2011, a contract was awarded to Crye to design a camouflage pattern with Multicam's effective colours but with a pattern changed to resemble the original DPCU. In October 2012, Australian troops about to deploy to Afghanistan were photographed wearing unifoms in the new pattern. Unlike the UK's MTP camouflage which was also based on the Multicam pattern, the changes have been confined to the darkest and lightest shapes which now mimic the familiar "bunny ears" or jelly bean" shapes of the original DPCU.
A naval version, consisting of the "littoral colours" of various shades of grey with greens, officially named Disruptive Pattern Naval Uniform (DPNU), has been adopted by the Royal Australian Navy. Before the uniform was introduced, there was some confusion as to why a disruptive pattern was used at all, given that the uniform incorporated reflective tape on the upper arms to make the wearer more visible if they should fall overboard, though the reflective tape is placed low enough on the arm to be covered when the sleeves are rolled up. The primary reason for the use of the AUSCAM pattern is not to provide camouflage, but to align with the other services which use the distinctly Australian pattern, making personnel identifiable as Australian, and through the use of the littoral colours as naval personnel. It will replace several sets of other clothing, including the grey fire resistant overalls and the blue Action Working Dress (AWD). RAN personnel previously issued DPCU uniform (such as clearance divers) will continue to be issued DPCU kit in addition to their DPNU uniforms.
Opposing Force - DPCU
During the late 1990s a modified Auscam colour scheme was trialled to be used for OPFOR units during force vs force training exercises. This pattern was in the same style as the standard DPCU but in tones of red and brown, supposedly resembling a "Russian" style pattern. Colours used were: dark brown, mid-brown, light brown and blood red, all on a tan background. It was used sparingly during several exercises but not issued widely due to the cost associated with fielding a separate uniform with only minor colour changes solely for use as an OPFOR uniform and as such was withdrawn from official service in 1998. OPFOR DPCU was found to be very effective in the red sands of some Australian deserts.
Air Force variant
A version of the DPCU colour scheme was proposed for the Royal Australian Air Force (Air Force Disruptive Pattern Uniform). This looked similar to the original scheme but with a light grey background and the replacement of one of the brown colours with dark grey. It was not adopted, however a new variant (called DPAFU - Disruptive Pattern Air Force Uniform) commenced user trials in late 2013 within the RAAF. This has adopted a more 'digi-cam' style, similar to that of the US, as opposed to the "hearts and bunnies" of the current DPCU format.
Garments issues in DPCU have included shirt/jackets, Jump smocks (for Paratroops), trousers and a waxed cotton (Japara) rain jacket, almost always referred to as a Japarra. Head dress has included bush hats, wide brimmed bush hats ("boonie" hats) and a peaked cap with a fold up neck flap referred to as a kepi cap (worn only by members of units which operate armoured vehicles and by Regional Force Surveillance Units). Although not standard-issue with the ADF, M65 field jackets that are made in the standard green DPCU camouflage pattern have been made for the civilian market in Australia.
Equipment that has been issued in DPCU are rucksacks, pouches (such as Steyr pouches, Minimi pouches, canteen pouches, map cases, field dressing pouches, butt/bum packs, medical kits, etc.), load carrying equipment, field body armour, and combat helmet covers.
- Australian Multicam Camouflage Uniform
- Military camouflage
- List of camouflage patterns
- Weaponry of the Australian Army
- Uniforms of the Australian Army
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