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Iraqi National Guardsmen, training for Military Operations in Urban Terrain  with the United States Marine Corps

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Iraqi National Guardsmen, training for Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) with the United States Marine Corps. The U.S. 6-color desert camouflage is the new standard for the revised Iraqi armed forces. [Image: ISAF.]

U.S. 6-color desert camouflage
United States of America

Used first by the U.S. Army in the 1980s, during desert exercises, the U.S. six-color desert camouflage pattern was fielded by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces during the First Gulf War. It was quickly discovered, though, that the so-called 'chocolate chip' camouflage was not so effective as had been hoped.

The problem arose from the fact that the six-color desert camouflage pattern was developed for, and trialled in, rocky, high desert terrains. Unfortunately, the areas of uniform colour perceived in open deserts are typically ten times larger than those perceived in wooded areas; the combination of large areas of pinkish-tan, medium brown, light green, and dark brown with small black-and-white flecks was simply too 'busy'.

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

The newer DBDU pattern has been used by the U.S. Army since 1999, and is authorised for wear by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. In spite of the pattern's success, however, the U.S. Marine Corps introduced its own distinctive desert camouflage pattern — Desert MARPAT™ — in 2002; and the six-color pattern will continue to be authorised for wear, by all branches, until such time as the current stock is depleted and the uniforms become unserviceable.

Moreover, the U.S. six-color desert camouflage pattern has inspired numerous 'knock-off' patterns. One, called pustynya ('desert'), is available in the Russian Federation, while the People's Republic of China has produced two near-copies.

kamouflage.net is grateful to Henrik Clausen, for his invaluable contribution to this article.

camouflage data

1cm grid

U.S. 6-color desert camouflage
1985–1999

Specimen of U.S. 6-color desert camouflage

Specimen kindly supplied by Henrik Clausen collection

Actual size: 20×20cm

also known as:
  • chocolate chip camouflage pattern
  • cookie dough camouflage pattern
  • six-color desert camouflage pattern
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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