At the SOFINS 2023 Special Forces expo in France last week I spotted another four camo patterns not previously covered in this section, writes Bob Morrison.
The four patterns seen here are photos of back panels of combat jackets or shirts worn by members of national delegations attending SOFINS 2023 who, with the exception of the Luxembourg delegate*, were Special Forces officers and naturally they requested that I did not photograph them from the front. All were, however, willing to stand outside the expo halls to allow me to take a photo of their back in natural light.
Looking first at the Singapore patterns, these are the standard predominantly green and earth four-colour Army pattern introduced around 2009 and the predominantly grey and stone Navy variant introduced three years later. Both of these digital / pixellated patterns bear some similarities to the early 21st Century Canadian and American patterns (i.e. CADPAT and MARPAT plus UCP) but they are not copies. The bulk of Singapore’s Special Operations Task Force personnel are drawn from the Army, primarily the Commandos, but SOTF also includes the Naval Diving Unit who wear Singapore Navy pattern uniforms; although they were wearing unit patches, the Singaporean delegation requested that I did not photograph these.
The armed forces of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg only number around 1,000 personnel, all professionals, and as far as we can establish they do not have their own Special Forces or Special Operations Forces unit, but they do have elite Reconnaissance Platoons which are assigned to the NATO Response Force. Since 2011 Luxembourg Army, or Lëtzebuerger Arméi, personnel have been issued a distinctive four-colour camouflage pattern of forest green and earth brown primary shades on a stone background with black providing depth. As I have never seen this pattern worn in the field I cannot comment on how effective it is, but interestingly the palette does not look too dissimilar to the new Netherlands Fractal Pattern although less colours are used.
Next we have an example of the Italian Special Forces camo pattern known as VegeCam as it follows the same basic design as M04 Mimetico Vegetata but has a similar, though not quite identical, colour palette to Crye MultiCam. The senior Italian SF officer wearing this uniform (it is crumpled here as he had been wearing a daysack which he briefly removed to allow me to snap his camo) confirmed that the wearers do indeed refer to this Italian commercial pattern as being VegeCam, though civilian market distributors often refer to it as being MultiLand. Unfortunately I was unable to photograph this pattern alongside an example of Crye MultiCam, but when seen at medium distance I found it not easy to differentiate the two.
As for the bulk of the French Special Forces participating in the capabilities display at SOFINS 2023, they wore Crye MultiCam uniforms (not the new Bariolage Multi-Environmental pattern) and so did the Belgian SF contingent working alongside them. Many 1er RPIMa personnel at Camp de Souge who were not taking part in the SOFINS 2023 display wore uniforms in the subdued COM FST camo pattern which we first saw at SOFINS 2019, but in the main this low profile camo seemed to be worn more as barrack dress rather than as combat dress.
[images © Bob Morrison]