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Painting 3-color DBU
Historical BackgroundThe US military began experimenting with desert camouflage uniforms (DCUs) in the mid-1960s. The first desert camouflage pattern developed was an odd-looking, 6-color pattern that became known as the „chocolate chip“ pattern in US Army slang, bearing resemblance to a bunch of chocolate chip cookies on a khaki background. The only reference for developing "chocolate chip“ was the desert in southwestern US. The 6-color DCU was first used in 1982 during the combined US-Egyptian Army exercise "Bright Star 82“, but the mass-production of "chocolate chip“ DCU came in 1991 with the Western intervention in the Persian Gulf.
However, it soon became apparent that dark tones of the 6-color pattern were not effective in the deserts of the Middle East. Research teams at the US Army’s Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center were thus instructed to create a new and improved desert camouflage pattern.
The most important requirement of a new pattern was to “improve visual protection from detection, protection from observation through night vision devices, give generalised uniform colors for all deserts and boost morale”. Less was considered more in terms of pattern and color. Instead of a complex 6-color “chocolate chip” pattern that created high contrast with the desert background, researchers found out that a 3-color desert camouflage pattern consisting of two khaki tones and light brown would be most effective desert pattern for US troops.
Besides the fact that 3-color pattern blends in much better than its 6-color counterpart, it is also much cheaper and easier to produce. The actual production of new 3-color DCUs started at the beginning of the Gulf War and the first sets were issued to US troops at the end of Operation Desert Storm.