All the recent chatter around the US Army camo controversy got me to thinking of a couple of different approaches. I already laid out my intial thoughts on a common ground combat uniform – and seperate garrison uniform – a few weeks back.
An alternative, and perhaps more cost-effective, approach is the idea of matching a common, solid drab coloured ground combat uniform and load-carrying / protective gear ensemble with interchangeable, lightweight (possibly breathable mesh), loose-fitting, camouflaged over garments.
The over-garments should be as simple and inexpensive to produce as possible – whilst still offering sufficient practicality and durability – thus easing the production of different terrain/environment-specific camouflage pattern and colour schemes. With the right shape, size and features, the garments could be even worn over the soldiers’ individual equipment – thus enhancing the effectiveness of the camouflage, and also keeping the logistical and supply chain more simplified.Admittedly, this idea is not exactly new – the Germans first persued a similar direction with their baggy, reversible over-smocks in WWII.
The Soviet Bloc followed a similar principle with their one and two-piece camouflaged over-garments for snipers and scouts.
The Russian Federation continues to use this style of garment for their special operations forces today – particularly those of the Ministry of the Interior.
(image from www.rusmilitary.co.uk)
The Israeli Defence Forces also issue a loose-fitting, lightweight nylon mesh over-suit and helmet cover in a variety of terrain-specific camouflage patterns.
Originally produced in woodland and desert pattern versions, the suits are now available in a wider range of camouflage patterns and is issued to snipers and scouts of the IDF’s elite infantry units. Meanwhile, the standard garrison, field and combat uniform of the IDF remains the good old olive green fatigue set first issued in the 1960s.
Thanks to Master Sergeant Thomas Konami of the Israeli Defence Forces for providing the following photographs.
I wanted to test this kind of concept for myself, so Alun Gilmore of The Combat Store loaned me a couple of their lightweight mesh over-suits. These come from a Taiwanese manufacturer and feature a commercial copy of the woodland and desert MARPAT camo patterns.
As you can see, the suits were a little bit on the small side for me – but it still illustrates the concept, and also shows how you can mix and match the camo patterns to better match the local terrain as well. Something to think about…
During this field test / photo shoot I wore a “KA03 X-Light” uniform from Steinadler Handels GmbH under the mesh suit. In my opinion, this was an ideal base layer uniform for this type of set-up. Even though it was a warm summer’s day I stayed cool and comfortable through-out, and the KA03 X-Light really lived up to the claims of extreme lightness, comfort, flexibility and breathability.
Photos by Benj Hanson.