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Sample of a Lebanese-made tigerstripe fabric
TypeMilitary camouflage pattern
Place of originUnknown
Service history
In service1969 c.
Used bySee Users
WarsVietnam War
Gulf War
War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)
Production history

Tigerstripe is the name of a group of camouflage patterns developed for close-range use in dense jungle during jungle warfare by the South Vietnamese Armed Forces and adopted in late 1962 to early 1963 by US Special Forces during the Vietnam War. During and after the Vietnam War, the pattern was adopted by several other Asian countries. It derives its name from its resemblance to a tiger's stripes and were simply called "tigers." It features narrow stripes that look like brush-strokes of green and brown, and broader brush-strokes of black printed over a lighter shade of olive or khaki. The brush-strokes interlock rather than overlap, as in French Lizard pattern (TAP47) from which it apparently derives.

There are many variations; R.D. Johnson counted at least 19 different versions in early drafts of Tiger Patterns, his definitive work on the subject, although it is unclear if these are all different print patterns, or if they include color variations of a few different print patterns.


Philippine Navy NAVSOG at the SEACAT 2018 Exercise 002

It is unclear who developed the first tigerstripe pattern, consisting of sixty-four (64) stripes. The French used a similar pattern (Lizard) in their war in Vietnam.[citation needed] After the French left Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam Marine Division continued using the pattern,[1] a variant of which was later adopted by Vietnamese Rangers (Biệt Động Quân)[1] and Special Forces (Lực Lượng Đặc Biệt). When the United States began sending advisors to South Vietnam, USMAAG advisors attached to the ARVN were authorized to wear their Vietnamese unit's combat uniform with US insignia.[1] Soon, many American special operations forces in the Vietnamese theater of operations wore the pattern, despite not always being attached to ARVN units: it became the visible trademark of Marine Corps Recon, Green Berets, LRRPs, SEALs, and other elite forces.[citation needed]

Tigerstripe was never an official US-issue item. Personnel permitted to wear it at first had their camo fatigues custom-made by local tailors, with ARVN uniforms being too small for most Americans; for this reason there were many variations of the basic tigerstripe pattern.[citation needed] In 1963, Marine Corps Advisors and from 1964, 5th Special Forces Group of the Green Berets contracted with Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian producers to make fatigues and other items such as boonie hats using tigerstripe fabric. Being manufactured by different producers in places like Thailand, Korea and in Japan via Okinawa, there was a wide variety of patterns and color shade variations.[1][2] They were made in both Asian and US sizes.[1]

During the latter stages of the war, tigerstripe was gradually replaced in American reconnaissance units by the-then-new ERDL pattern,[3] a predecessor of the woodland BDU pattern. The Special Forces-advised Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) used tigerstripes from 1963 until disbanded in 1971. Special Forces personnel wore tigerstripes when conducting operations with the CIDG.[2]

Besides American and ARVN forces, Australian and New Zealand military personnel used tigerstripe uniforms while on advisory duty with the ARVN units.[4] Personnel from the Australian Special Air Service Regiment and the New Zealand Special Air Service were the principal wearers of tigerstripe uniforms[3] (and ERDL uniforms) in theater, while regular Australian and New Zealand troops wore the standard-issue olive drab green uniforms.

Outside of Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines have been the most prolific manufacturers of tiger stripe designs since the Vietnam War. The pattern became popular throughout the Middle East and South America as well.[citation needed]

The pattern was tested by the USMC prior to the adoption of MARPAT through the Scout Sniper Instructor School.[5]


F/A-18 Hornet of VMFA(AW)-224 in tigerstripe livery for decoration rather than camouflage



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Trousers, Camouflage, 'Tiger Stripe': ARVN / US Special Forces". Imperial War Museums.
  2. ^ a b Rottman 2008, p. 20.
  3. ^ a b c Dougherty 2017, p. 64.
  4. ^ McNab, Chris (2002). 20th Century Military Uniforms (2nd ed.). Kent, UK: Grange Books. pp. 278, 308. ISBN 1-84013-476-3.
  5. ^ "Combat Utility Uniform Camouflage Considerations". September 20, 2001. Archived from the original on 2001-09-20.
  6. ^ "Afghan NDS continues crackdown on counterfeit uniforms". Long War Journal. 2011-09-05. Archived from the original on 2019-10-09. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
  7. ^ https://sofrep.com/news/the-pic-of-the-day-nothing-screams-pipe-hitter-more-than-tiger-stripes-camo/
  8. ^ a b "Throwback tiger stripes could get more use among Green Berets". Stars and Stripes.
  9. ^ Conboy 1991, p. 60.
  10. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2018-08-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "The Vietnamese Marine Corps". msuweb.montclair.edu.
  12. ^ Conboy 1991, p. 58.
  13. ^ Galeotti 2019, p. 5.


  • Conboy, Kenneth (1991). South-East Asian Special Forces. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1855321069.
  • Dougherty, Martin (2017). Camouflage at War: An Illustrated Guide from 1914 to the Present Day. Amber Books. ISBN 978-1782744986.
  • Galeotti, Mark (2019). Armies of Russia's War in Ukraine. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1472833440.
  • Rottman, Gordon L. (2008). US Army Long-Range Patrol Scout in Vietnam 1965-71. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1846032509.

Further reading[edit]

  • Johnson, Richard Denis (1999). Tiger Patterns: A Guide to the Vietnam War's Tigerstripe Combat Fatigue Patterns and Uniforms. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7643-0756-0.

External links[edit]