The British Army has unveiled its first new combat camouflage uniform in over 40 years. This one is designed to make troops fighting in Afghanistan merge more unobtrusively into the local landscape.
The new battledress comprises seven colours and is aimed at combining the light and dark-brown desert pattern with the more green woodland version so as to reflect the varying topography of Helmand.
The camouflage was developed by feeding the various lights and shades of the region into imaging software. It will be used first by the 4th Mechanised Brigade, which deploys to Afghanistan in the spring, and within five years will become standard kit throughout the armed forces.
The previous desert camouflage was used by British troops in the arid landscape of southern Iraq, but there were complaints that the colours were not suitable for missions in the region's marshlands. The problem is more acute in rural areas of Afghanistan, where the forces find themselves on operations amid the foliage of the 'Green Zone' of the Helmand river valley and the canal systems one day, and then amid dry scrublands and sandy fields the next.
Some members of the forces have been improvising by using the green woodland jackets with the brown desert trousers.