Woodland Pattern was the default camouflage pattern issued to United States soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors from 1981, with the issue of the Battle Dress Uniform, until its replacement around 2006. It was a four color, high contrast disruptive pattern with irregular markings in sand, brown, green and black.
Development and history
Woodland pattern is identical to ERDL, but is printed from an enlargement of the original. The ERDL pattern was enlarged and the borders of the splotches were re-drawn to make them less regular. Part of the earlier pattern was left off the later pattern because the enlargement made them no longer fit on the width of the bolt of cloth. The pattern does not repeat horizontally across the width of the bolt, but only vertically along its length.
The effect of enlarging the pattern was to make the pattern more visible at a distance, avoiding "blobbing", where smaller areas of color seem to blend into larger blobs. This also gave the pattern a higher contrast, making it stand out more sharply at close distances and defeating the camouflage effect at closer range. Digital and Flecktarn camouflage patterns resolve this problem by using a range of blob sizes to give a similar effect whatever the distance.
These changes reflected a shift in the tactical focus of the United States military from an extremely close-range war in Vietnam to a longer-range battlespace on the fields of Europe.
The Woodland Pattern BDU has been phased out by the Marine Corps with the introduction of the digital MARPAT Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform, although Marines competing in Exercise Combined Resolve II at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, in May 2014 wore it. In the U.S. Army, the Woodland Pattern BDU was replaced by the digital Universal Camouflage Pattern Army Combat Uniform.
The U.S. Navy retains the Woodland Pattern BDU for specific units and organizations. The U.S. Navy SEALs are the primary users of this uniform. Most sailors have transitioned to the Navy Working Uniform, while the Air Force has gone to the Airman Battle Uniform which uses a modern incarnation of the Tigerstripe pattern. The USAF Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol) retains the Woodland Pattern BDU as a utility uniform. Various law enforcement and SWAT teams use the woodland pattern for their personnel as well.