A couple of weeks ago I posted a few camo patterns spotted at IDEX 2023 in Abu Dhabi which I felt might interest our camouflage aficionados, writes Bob Morrison.
It had been my intention to post a little more on this topic during the week after my return, but regrettably a virulent bug pole-axed me and resultant sinus-related headaches severely curtailed the amount of time I could spend looking at bright computer screens each day ~ which is a bit of a pain in my line of work. Fortunately I am now on the mend, though my massive stocks of pocket tissues taken from ration packs over the last couple of decades are pretty much all gone.
Before looking at the four arid / desert theatre camo samples, from three different nations, snapped at IDEX 2023 and featured in the IDEX 2023 Camo Quiz article on 24 February, I first wish to draw attention to the pattern in the leads photo on this page. It is, of course, Italian M04 Mimetico Vegetata pattern which we looked at a couple of years back. At IDEX 2023 this pattern was worn by a small party of Marines from the San Marco Regiment and, other than the usual slight colour variations as a result of different manufacturing batches and the degree of wear of a particular garment, this combat shirt back panel shot indoors under diffused natural light from behind the camera is pretty unremarkable. However, despite it looking like a totally colour variation, the second photo on the page is of exactly the same Marine’s combat shirt taken just a few seconds later while he was now standing under bright venue lighting. This, in my opinion, shows the dangers of trying to assess precise camo colours from photos.
Turning to the previously published composite image of four camo patterns, which I have now labelled A through to D, swatches B and C are actually photos of the same pattern on the back panel of two combat shirts but slight differences in the percentages of the colours, combined with one being shot around noon and the other several hours later in the afternoon of the next day when there was more dust in the atmosphere gave the impression of them being different patterns. As we will see later, both are South Korean. The other two patterns, labelled A and D, are Kuwaiti and Malaysian respectively and this was the first time I was able to view both.
Over the last decade or so I have photographed three different Kuwaiti Special Forces / Special Operations units at KASOTC (King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center) in Jordan, but none were wearing uniforms in the M2006 Digital Desert Pattern primarily worn by conventional Kuwait Army units. According to the primary online camouflage pattern research source, Kuwaiti M2006 is a predominantly brown and tan four-colour pattern bearing similarities to USMC Desert MARPAT, so I was surprised to discover that in reality it used a predominantly green palette. I do not like to be too specific about camo colours unless I have a good condition garment, or a reasonable size swatch of material, to compare with other uniforms and swatches in my collection under different natural light conditions, so all I will state is that the primary colour is a soft light green, the secondary colour is a darker shade of green and the two tertiary colours to give depth are a light stone and a dark chocolate brown. The two Kuwait M2006 photos here [Pattern A] were shot in natural light outside the IDEX expo halls and the wearer who kindly stopped to allow me to snap his combat shirt was a Brigadier.
I suspect that the reason why this Kuwaiti pattern has been described as being predominantly brown might be that the small camo swatch the expert was referring to was photographed directly under tungsten light. However, just to confuse matters the uniform worn by the Kuwait Army Colonel in the photo at the foot of this article (alongside a Major wearing US OCP) not only has different colour percentage areas but it appears to be predominantly pinkish sand with light and dark secondary green colours and a slightly lighter chocolate brown as the tertiary colour. No doubt there is a pinkish tinge to the light, caused by dust in the late autumn air, and hence the white vehicle behind appearing to be a little off-white, but I reckon any warmth in the light is insufficient to turn a light green base camo to pinkish sand. Might there actually be two different camo patterns or are the differences just down to different producers supplying the fabric?
Patterns B and C are both examples of South Korean (i.e. Republic of Korea) M2016 Special Warfare Command four-colour desert digital pattern which was originally issued to members of the elite 707th Special Mission Group. This unit has been deployed to the United Arab Emirates for over a decade to assist in the training of Emirati Special Forces and we spoke to female as well as male personnel. The members of this unit, although very friendly and excellent English speakers, were rather camera shy and while they willingly allowed me to photograph back panels of combat shirts they were insistent that the only insignia that I snapped should be the low visibility national flag. As previously mentioned, the variable light in this desert theatre region and the amount of dust in the air, not to mention the degree of sun-bleached weathering, make these appear almost like two different patterns but they are indeed the same. In my opinion the primary / base colour is a light tan with a light chocolate brown and a mustard brown as secondary shades plus light stone is the tertiary colour. Since 2010 mainstream ROK Army personnel have worn a five-colour temperate digital camo pattern (see below) but there does not appear to be any design overlap.
The final camo pattern [D] I am briefly looking at here is the three-colour Arid / Desert theatre version of the four- colour Malaysian M2013 Temperate digital camouflage. Another rare find, this desert camo version uses a slightly pinkish light stone shade as its base, whereas the temperate camo version is less pink, and it uses a khaki shade instead of a verdant green as one of its secondary colours; the other secondary colour on both Arid and Temperate patterns is a warm brown and the temperate camo uses black as its tertiary colour.
As mentioned in the previous short article, I was unable to shoot walk-round sequences of soldiers wearing these uniforms but all stopped briefly to allow me to take the photos and none are ‘sneak’ shots. That’s all for now in this section, but I have an interesting assignment coming up at the end of this month and with a little bit of luck I might just spot something new on the camo front.
[images © Bob Morrison unless noted]