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Overview[]

US Woodland pattern

M81 Woodland

M81 woodland

U.S. Army National Guard soldiers wear BDUs in M81 woodland camouflage during a July 2000 field training exercise in Yavoriv, Ukraine.

The United States' four color Woodland pattern introduced in 1981 is derived from the earlier ERDL pattern, but the pattern was enlarged and the borders of the splotches were re-drawn to make them less regular, and the saber of colors were adjusted, with only the tan-containing version remaining in use. Part of the earlier pattern was left off the later pattern because the enlargement made them no longer fit on the width of the bolt of cloth. The pattern does not repeat horizontally across the width of the bolt, but only vertically along its length.

The purpose of enlarging the pattern was to make the pattern more visible at a distance, avoiding "blobbing", where smaller areas of color seem to blend into larger blobs. This also gave the pattern a higher contrast, making it stand out more sharply at close distances and defeating the camouflage effect at closer range. Digital and Flecktarn camouflage patterns resolve this problem by using a range of blob sizes to give a similar effect whatever the distance.

These changes reflected a shift in the tactical focus of the United States military from an extremely close-range war in Vietnam to a longer-range battlespace on the fields of Europe.

The woodland patterned BDU has been phased out by the Marine Corps in exchange for the digital MARPAT with the introduction of the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform. In the Army, the woodland pattern was replaced with digital Universal Camouflage Pattern, with the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). It was replaced in the U.S. Air Force with the Airman Battle Uniform and in the Navy with the Navy Working Uniform.

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