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An American soldier in Mosul, Iraq, retrieving contraband weapons camouflage data

A U.S. soldier, in Mosul, Iraq, retrieving contraband weapons. Although he wears the three-color desert battle dress uniform (DBDU), his assault vest is camouflaged in the famous four-colour U.S. woodland camouflage. [Image:]

U.S. 3-color desert
United States of America

During the First Gulf War, the U.S. Armed Forces soon learned that their six-color 'chocolate chip' desert battle dress uniform (DBDU) was not so effective as had been hoped.

The problem arose from the fact that the colour of desert terrain can vary widely, from pink to blue, depending on the minerals in the soil and the time of the day. Thus no single colour, or single combination of colours, can match conditions in all deserts. Moreover, in the desert, perceived areas of 'uniform' colour are typically ten times larger than those perceived in wooded areas.

These realisations led to the development of a three-color DBDU pattern, which comprises large swathes of light green and narrower swathes of earth brown on a sand-coloured background.

Although the new three-color DBDU pattern replaced the six-color pattern in 1999, the six-color pattern will continue to be authorised for wear, until such time as the current stock is depleted and the uniforms become unserviceable.

The three-color DBDU is authorised by wear by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces — Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. It is also used by units of the Koninklijke Landmacht (Royal Netherlands Army), operating in Afghanistan, and by T'zanhanim (paratroopers) and Special Forces units of the Israel Defence Force (IDF).

camouflage data

1cm grid

U.S. 3-color desert

Specimen of U.S. 3-color desert

Specimen kindly supplied by Brad Turner

Actual size: 21.36×29.46cm

also known as:
  • desert battle dress uniform (DBDU) camouflage
country of origin:

United States of America

National flag: United States of America

United States of America

used by:
  • U.S. Air Force
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • U.S. Navy
also used by:

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