ERDL pattern

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ERDL Pattern
ERDL Pattern

ERDL pattern is a camouflage pattern developed by the United States Army at its Engineer Research & Development Laboratories (ERDL) in 1948. It was not issued to elite reconnaissance and special operations units until early 1967,[1] during the Vietnam War.[2][3][4]

The pattern consists of four colors printed in an interlocking pattern.[5]


The pattern was initially produced in a lime-dominant colorway, consisting of large organic shapes in mid green and brown, black ‘branches’, and light green ‘leaf highlights’. Shortly thereafter a brown-dominant scheme (with the light green replaced by light tan) was manufactured. The two patterns are also unofficially known as "Lowland" and "Highland" ERDL, respectively.[6]


The United States Marine Corps (USMC) adopted the green "Lowland" version as standard issue in Vietnam from 1968, and later the U.S. Army introduced it on a wide scale in Southeast Asia. A third variation, unofficially known as "Delta" from an alleged use in the Mekong Delta area of South Vietnam, was issued in the early 1970s. It was simply a color variation and not specifically developed for the Delta region. It was common for marines to wear mixes of ERDL and OG-107 jungle fatigues, which was authorized owing to periodic shortages. Australian and New Zealand SAS were also issued U.S-issue ERDL BDUs during their time in Vietnam. By the end of the Vietnam War, American troops wore camouflage combat dress as the norm.[7] "Delta" ERDL is the same as "Highland" pattern, but the black "branches" appear thicker and less detailed. The ERDL-pattern combat uniform was identical in cut to the OG-107 jungle fatigues it was issued alongside.[8]

Following the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Vietnam in 1973, the Army no longer routinely issued camouflage clothing. However, soldiers in the 1st and 2d Ranger Battalions (1/75 & 2/75 Ranger [Airborne]) received ERDL jungle fatigues of all three varieties as organizational issue, and the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment wore the ERDL-leaf pattern as an experiment in the early 1970s in Baumholder, Germany. During this same period the 82d Airborne Division and 36th Airborne Brigade (Texas National Guard) were issued the ERDL jungle fatigues until replaced by BDUs. In 1976, the Marines obtained the leftover Vietnam-era ERDL pattern uniforms which became general issue, replacing the solid OG "sateen" utility/fatigue uniform. As there was never an ERDL pattern Marine-style utility cap, the Marines continued to wear the solid OG utility hat until the adoption of the BDU pattern. It was to be used to equip the United States Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) while on tropical missions. Photographs during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis showed U.S. Embassy Marines wearing the RDF version ERDL uniforms when they were taken prisoner by Iranian revolutionaries.

It was not until 1981 that the Army approved another camouflaged uniform. That year it officially introduced the battle dress uniform (BDU) in M81 Woodland pattern,[9] an enlarged and slightly altered version of ERDL-leaf, to supply all arms of the US Forces.[3] The last batches of the ERDL fatigues saw service during Operation Eagle Claw, Beirut, and the Invasion of Grenada.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blechman/Newman, Hardy/Alex (2004). DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material. Department of Publications, Maharishi. ISBN 0-9543404-0-X. 
  2. ^ Camouflage Facts, Delta Gear, Inc.
  3. ^ a b > North America > United States of America > 'lime' ERDL pattern
  4. ^ Tom Vanderbilt, "The Army's new camouflage", Slate Magazine
  5. ^ > North America > United States of America > 'lime' ERDL pattern
  6. ^ Mark's Asian Camo Uniforms
  7. ^ Newark, Tim (2007). Camouflage. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-51347-7. 
  8. ^ Vietnam - Equipment and Uniform
  9. ^ Christine O. Hardyman, ed. (1988). "Chapter 7: Support Services". Department of the Army Historical Summary FY 1981. United States Army Center of Military History.