The Camouflage Sweepstakes

For some time after the fall of the USSR, the independent Russian military was known for its huge array of often-mismatched camo patterns. Even after the “digi-flora” standardization, this remains true to a degree (as in other armies-look at the classic “Woodland vest over desert camo” look in the Iraq War.)

For the camo sweepstakes of a surviving Red Army, I see a few options.

  • VSR-93. This pattern historically was in development when the USSR collapsed. There’s no reason why an intact, better-funded USSR wouldn’t be able to standardize.
  • TTSKO. This was an existing camouflage pattern widely continued by ex-Soviet republics.
  • For a more fanciful idea, a type of early digital camo could be adopted. As it stands, one was adopted by an ex-SSR, with Latvia’s “LATPAT” camo. Although not to the degree of the American Dual-Tex, the “pixels” are still significantly bigger than most other digital patterns.
  • Something else. Even in Russia itself, the Interior Troops adopted many patterns that could easily be used for the regular army.
  • Simple legacy pattern uniforms.
  • A combination. The GENFORCE-Mobile concept gives me the idea of the Mobile Corps and Airborne Forces having “fancier” uniforms.

The Style of Camouflage

Camouflage uniforms have sometimes been issued in limited amounts, especially during the World Wars. In some cases, they were chosen for practical reasons. Recon troops and others who needed legitimately better concealment were given them. One interesting case is the US only really deploying camouflage uniforms in the Pacific theater in WWII, as the Germans loved camo, and thus using them in Europe caused too much confusion. Another one is how a lot of armies that previously used the classic M81 Woodland have updated their uniforms, since the ubiquity of that pattern has made it very easy for enemies to make disguises.

But there have also been cultural reasons, for lack of a better term. And not just bandwagoning like the infamous American “every service stomps into a digital camo pattern” experience in the 2000s. I’ve heard that the postwar Bundeswehr was slow to adopt camouflage uniforms because of their association with the Third Reich. And in places like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, camouflage has been reserved for elite units as a sort of status symbol. There’s also police forces adopting blue and/or gray pseudo-camouflage to show a sort of “military power”.

This aspect of camouflage uniforms is both ironic (something intended to blend in is chosen because of its looks) and interesting to me. As is the reputation that seemingly neutral camo patterns develop based on who uses them.