Commonwealth of Australia
Although Australia did field some airborne and commando units during the Second World War, there is no evidence suggesting they were issued with any type of camouflage uniform. Whereas most Commonwealth units fighting in the European theater wore the British-made Denison smock, this was probably deemed too heavy and hot for use by units operating in the Pacific.
Australia became involved in the Vietnam War in part because of its membership in SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization), sending in advisors to the ARVN in 1962. By 1967, Australian forces included a detachment of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). Largely tasked with reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, the junglecraft of the Australian SAS was so highly developed that the enemy credited them with being able to appear out of nowhere, thus earning the unit the nickname Ma Rūńg (Phantoms of the Jungle). Althoguh the standard combat uniform of the Australian soldier at this time was jungle green, most SAS preferred to wear the US manufactured M1968 ERDL jungle uniform, or locally-produced tiger stripe jungle fatigues. Australia did produce a thin waterproofed camouflage smock and hat, however, which were issued to most military personnel serving in Vietnam; this can be considered the first truly Australian-designed camouflage pattern.
Olive green remained the standard uniform of the soldier for several years after the war. However, in 1982-83, the Australian MOD began testing camouflage designs suitable to the local geography with an eye towards adopting a standard issue combat uniform for the entire Australian Defence Force. The pattern approved in 1984, Australian Disruptive Pattern Camouflage, has been standard issue ever since. Several desert variations of the pattern have also been issued, as well as a unique reddish-coloration that has been reserved for Australian soldiers acting as enemy troops during military exercises. Recently a colorway for the Australian Navy was also adopted.
Australian Camouflage Patterns
- The very first camouflage design produced for the Australian Military Forces (AMF) arose during the Vietnam War. Consisting of black smudges on an olive green background, the pattern was printed on a waterproofed rain cap and thigh length smock designated the "psychological smock." Other articles of clothing may also have been issued. This was produced between 1971 and 1992, but eventually was replaced by a DCP pattern rain smock.
- First tested in 1982-83, the original colors of the Australian Disruptive Camouflage Pattern (DCP) were slightly different from those finally released in 1984. Uniforms are known officially as DPCU (Disruptive Pattern, Combat Uniform), and for this reason the term is also often applied to the pattern. Although there are some slight color differences depending on the manufacturer and the fabric, in general the pattern features orange, brown, dark olive & lime green spots on a khaki background. Several nicknames have also been applied to the pattern, including AUSCAM, "bunny cam" (as some of the shapes in the design look like rabbit caricatures), and OzCam.
- During the mid-1990s, the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) began considering the idea of issuing a desert camouflage uniform for deployments to very arid regions. The pattern initially chosen was a locally-produced copy of the US tricolor desert pattern. Although never adopted by the Regiment, the uniforms were retained for a number of years and worn by Australian OPFOR (Opposing Forces) units during wargames.
- Various elements of the Australian Armed Forces portray the military forces Musoria (a fictional "enemy" nation) during exercises by taking the OPFOR (Opposing Forces) role. A special variation of the Auscam pattern was produced between 1997 and 1998 for these forces. Nicknamed "enemy cams" or "Red AUSCAM," the pattern is a re-coloring of the standard DCP with rust, medium brown, dark brown, light brown & deep red spots on a tan background. Striking in appearance, the pattern has been discontinued and in its place the previously issued three-color US desert pattern continues to serve in the OPFOR role.
- The SASR continued to search for a distinctive desert camouflage uniform and in 1998 they were issued a three-color variation of the standard Disruptive Pattern Camouflage. Often called Mk 1 (or Series 1) Desert AUSCAM, the pattern featured sand & brown colored spots on a tan background. The uniform itself is officially designated Desert Pattern Disruptive Uniform (DPDU) and hence that term is also often applied to the desert camouflage pattern. The Mk 1 desert pattern was fielded by the SASR when they originally deployed to Afghanistan in 2001-2002; however, as the colors were universally disliked the pattern was not adopted.
- A second version of desert AUSCAM (Mk II or Series 2) was then tested in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2003. This version featured mint green, grey, brown & light grey spots on a pinkish background, and saw service with the SASR and their Army and RAAF support elements deployed to that theater. At least two variations of this pattern were produced with slightly different dye lots. Nevertheless, users were again critical of the colors to this design, so it was dropped as well.
- Beginning in 2002, a third version of the desert AUSCAM (Mk III) was approved and initially issued to Australian personnel deployed to Afghanistan. Featuring pale green, brown & grey spots on a yellow-tan background, this color combination was deemed the most effective and ultimately approved for general issue to the Australian Armed Forces. It has continued to serve with Australian personnel various arid theaters of deployment and the design itself has remained relatively unchanged despite at least one complete uniform overhaul (from the standard DPCU to the Land 125 system).
- Released in 2008, an alternative colorway of the standard Disruptive Pattern Camouflage was issued for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Featuring light grey, med grey, dark grey & olive green on a very light grey background, the pattern is issued on the Disruptive Pattern Navy Uniform (DPNU).
- In late 2010 it was announced that Australian personnel deploying to Afghanistan would all receive US-produced Multicam pattern camouflage uniforms, as it was determined this design had a higher performance rating than the DPCU. A variation of the pattern, developed specifically for Australian military personnel by Crye Industries and incorporating many of the "bunny" and "jellybean" features found in the standard DPCU (although reduced in size), will begin replacing commercial Multicam for troops deploying to Afghanistan in late 2012. The pattern also has a miniature Australian Military Forces (AMF) logo embedded into the design. The Australian Army website refers to this design as Australian Multicam Pattern (AMP), and the uniform itself as Australian Multicam Pattern Operational Combat Uniform (AMP OCU). This uniform only saw issue for approximately two years, and was replaced by the Multicam-hybrid uniform seen below.
- In March 2014, it was revealed that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) would shortly begin issuing a General Purpose Uniform (GPU) for personnel not deployed to the combat theater or those employed in humanitarian service abroad. The pattern is essentially just a color variation of the AMF-issue Multicam hybrid, with a primarily blue colorway, and was designed with the involvement of Bruck Textiles.
- In mid-2014, it was announced that the Australian Army would officially adopt a new camouflage uniform that would replace both the Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform (DPCU) and the Australian Multicam Pattern Operational Combat Uniform (AMP OCU). The camouflage design is a hybrid and modification of the earlier Crye-designed Australian Multicam Pattern. Developed by the Defense Science and Technology Group, the pattern incorporates the original six-color palette of the DPCU plus one extra colour. This new pattern is called Australian Multicam Camouflage (AMC), and the uniform is the Australian Multicam Camouflage Uniform (AMCU), which began to replace older uniforms in October 2014; full integration is expected by 2019.
- The Royal Australia Navy has also discarded its DPNU and is replacing it with a Multicam-hybrid developed specifically for the service (resulting from a survey conducted in 2015). The new uniform will be known as the Marine Multi-cam Pattern Uniform (MMPU). The pattern blends olive green with dark blue and shades of grey to create a distinctive look for the Navy.
Unofficial and Experimental Camouflage worn by Australia
- Australian Special Air Service (SASR) units operating in South Vietnam wore the US M1948 ERDL camouflage pattern jungle uniforms whenever they could be obtained.
- South Vietnamese produced "tiger stripe" camouflage uniforms were also popular with the SASR and with some Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) members during their time in Southeast Asia. In the case of the SASR, evidence indicates they did not see as much service as the ERDL pattern, the AATTV members more commonly wore Australian issue Jungle Green (JG) uniforms or US produced M1964 olive green battle dress. As with their American counterparts, there was no particular pattern associated with the Australian forces, and individuals wore whatever variants could be obtained at the time.
- Commercial tiger stripe pattern camouflage has been worn by some Australians serving in OPFOR roles, circa 2008.
- Members of the Australian SAS operating in Afghanistan (ISAF) have been documented as wearing the commercially available Multicam pattern made in the USA under license by Crye Precision.
- A pixelated variation of Auscam (DPC) was developed in the early 2000s and initially tested by Police Tactical Units, but never officially adopted. In 2008, the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) -- a small, specialized unit consisting of approximately 300 personnel from the 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments, the Special Air Service Regiment, the Special Operations Engineer Regiment, the Special Operations Logistic Squadron, and various other services, units and commands around Australia -- tested several different types of combat clothing in this pattern while deployed to Southern Afghanistan on counter-network operations Australian DOD website. Although effective and popular, the pattern was beat out for Afghanistan deployment by the Crye-developed version of Multicam. Surviving samples of the issue uniforms identify the design as Platacam, and within the pattern can be made out a miniature platypus skull that is part of the company logo.
- A variant of the DPCU design was slated for introduction to Australian Military Forces operating in Afghanistan circa 2010. Designated the Disruptive Pattern Mid-Point Uniform (DPMU), the design retains the essential shapes of the DPCU but with a changed colorway incorporating light grey, sand, olive-green and reddish-brown shapes on a yellowish sandy background. This combination of colors was envisioned to perform optimally in semi-arid regions. Initially issued as uniform trials to the 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR), the design apparently failed to perform up to expectations. Later tests were conducted by imprinting the pattern on field equipment pouches, but these also were rejected. At this stage (2013) the DPMU remains only a trial design.
- Another DPCU variant seen here was reputedly tested for use by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), but was never adopted. The working name for the uniform was the Air Force Disruptive Pattern Uniform (AFDPU).