Bolivia is officially known as Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia (the Plurinational State of Bolivia). Once a part of the great Incan Empire, control of the region was usurped by the Spanish between 1524 and 1533, and at the time known as Upper Peru. Growing dissent at Spanish methods of governing (which included the enslavement of the native population to work in silver mines) led to the formation of a series of guerilla bands that controlled small "petty republics" (republiquetas). Between 1810 and 1824, the Bolivian War of Independence was fought, primarily between the Royalists (those loyal to Spain) and the guerilla leaders (also aided by Indian communities). The Royalist forces were defeated in 1824 with the help of Peruvian and Colombian troops and a new Republic proclaimed in August 1825.
Peru and Bolivia formed a confederation between 1836 and 1836, during which time they went to war with Chile and Argentina. The Confedration was dissolved shortly thereafter, but in 1841 both countries went to war with each other. Bolivia then went to war with Chile again (1879-1883), where it lost a significant amount of territory. In the Chaco War (1932-1935) with Paraguay, the country again lost territory, this time the Gran Chaco region.
During the 1960s, the Bolivian Army received considerable aid from the United States, who are believed to have engineered the death of revolutionary leader Che Guevara in 1967. Although wracked by political instability throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the nation has waged no significant wars since quelling the Cuban-led revolution.
The Bolivian Armed Forces consist of the Army, Air Force, and a small Naval Force (despite being a landlocked country). They have largely followed US standards insofar as equipment goes, including the wearing of camouflage uniforms similar to those of their North American neighbors.
Bolivian Camouflage Patterns
- The standard combat uniform of the Bolivian Army during the 1960s and 1970s was olive green. Special Ranger Companies, however, trained by the US Army, were issued a three-color "spot" pattern camouflage of undetermined origin. Seen below is an original black and white photograph of Bolivian Rangers wearing this pattern, as well as an unconfirmed color tile illustrating what the color arrangement may have been.
- A camouflage pattern based on the m1948 ERDL design was also issued to some Bolivian troops during the 1980s. A variation of this pattern, with colors more attuned to arid regions, was also issued.
- By the 1990s, the standard operational uniform of the Bolivian Armed Forces was US m81 woodland pattern. The current versions are locally-made, but some evidence suggests early models may have been made in Spain, and as well that ex-US surplus uniforms have also been worn.
- The Bolivian Navy has a small unit of Marines. Although typically outfitted in the standard woodland camouflage, they have also been documented wearing US six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern camouflage.
- Clouded in secrecy, the Bolivian Police unit officially known as Unidad Táctica de Resolución de Crisis - UTARC - (Tactical Crisis Resolution Unit), and unofficially as "Delta," have appeared in public wearing both the above "chocolate chip" desert camouflage pattern, as well as a copy of the US designed Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) seen below.
- From 2013, members of the Bolivian Army have been documented wearing a copy of the US Marine Corps MARPAT (tempeate) camouflage design.
- The Bolivian Army adopted its own unique camouflage design circa 2013. The pattern consists of a khaki or tan base over which is printed a disruptive series of various-sized blotches in black, dark brown, ochre and a moss green color. On test models, on top of this, a grid design of olive green is printed over the entire design. However, it appears the functioning design will not include the "grid" feature. References to this design refer to it as Pluricamuflaje, which roughly translates as "Multi-camouflage."