In the "MARPAT" thread some members of the board requested an e-mail article I wrote about a year and half ago regarding the digital camo patterns. When I wrote the original article there was some question as to the developmental process, as well as the "chicken and egg" aspect of CADPAT versus MARPAT. Judging by the MARPAT string, there are still some folks who aren‘t aware of the background issues. The information that I‘ve "cut and pasted" below is all factual, based on what I read and was told by those intimately involved in CADPAT development and fielding about 18 months ago. Take from it what you will...
"I finally have some definitive information for those who are interested in the development and comparative performance of the new Canadian Disruptive Pattern (CADPAT) and MARPAT uniforms. I also have the â€œbottom lineâ€ regarding the â€œchicken & eggâ€ issue of CADPAT versus MARPAT development. This might be particularly timely, given all of the interest in MARPAT now that it is available at USMC clothing stores.
Iâ€™ll begin by noting that the information provided below is derived from 2 primary sources. The first is an article written by the Canadian Army CADPAT project manager, Major D. Palmer. The second is a detailed discussion that I held 2 days ago with the Canadian Armyâ€™s â€œClothe the Soldierâ€ Program Manager from the Directorate of Land Requirements â€“ Close Combat Soldier Systems. A team from the â€œCTSâ€ Program visited my base in Edmonton to update soldiers on the status of the program and demonstrate the new equipment. Just about all of the new individual clothing and equipment coming on-line within the next 2 years will be produced in CADPAT â€“ from the Load-Bearing Vest, to the Rucksack, to the Temperate Combat Boot (yes, CADPAT boots!). All of the kit demonstrated was first-class stuff, and will be a real quantum leap in terms of comfort, utility and effectiveness for our troops. But I digress â€“ on to the subject of CADPAT (and later, MARPAT).
After 25 years of experimentation and trials using various existing and experimental â€œconventionalâ€ camouflage patterns, the Canadian Forces undertook development of its unique new â€œdigitalâ€ pattern in 1995. A much more analytical approach was adopted for this project than had been the case prior. Past camouflage trials had been just that â€“ very much a process of simple trial and error. Development and acceptance/rejection of trials patterns had been based on little more than determining which patterns â€œlooked goodâ€ and were liked by the troops. This approach was clearly not conducive to developing the most effective pattern possible, and it was therefore decided to approach the problem from â€œfirst principalsâ€, fully exploiting scientific analysis and the latest in leading-edge textile technologies.
The first step in developing the "CADPAT TW" (Temperate Woodlands) was a spectral analysis of Temperate terrain throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Images were recorded of â€œtypicalâ€ woodlands across the breadth of Canada and Europe during Spring, Summer and Fall, in both the visible and infra-red spectrums. The images were recorded at typical infantry woodland target detection and engagement distances of between 50 and 300 metres. These images were then computer-analyzed to determine which colors would best blend into the â€œaverageâ€ temperate surroundings, and in what ratio/proportion. This analysis determined that 4 colors with specific shades/tones were required to achieve the best possible â€œall aroundâ€ concealment effect. These are the same specific Light (lime) Green, Dark Green, Light Brown, and Black which were ultimately incorporated into the Temperate CADPAT.
The initial work described above regarding coloration and Infra-Red issues was contracted to a Danish company called DADCON. It was at this point that the Canadian Defence Research Establishment (DRE) took over development of the CADPAT under the auspices of DLR Close Combat Soldier Systems at National Defence Headquarters.
The next step (based on the same visible and IR imagery used by DADCON), was to develop a pattern with the specific shapes, sizes and arrangement of the 4 selected colours that would achieve maximum effect. The desired end-state for the pattern development process was optimum performance in terms of blending/concealing and â€œbreaking upâ€ the human shape when viewed against a broad range of natural temperate backgrounds with the naked eye, magnified daytime viewing (eg. binoculars), and both passive and active night vision devices. Again, this step focused on developing a pattern that would defeat (or significantly degrade) detection by enemy personnel at ranges of 50 to 300 metres, day and night. After due deliberation of the various factors and imagery, algorithm-based computer analysis produced the current â€œpixilatedâ€ CADPAT TW as the optimum camouflage pattern for the desired parameters. CADPAT TW was officially adopted as the standard Canadian Army pattern in 1997.
Once the Temperate CADPAT was developed, the next challenge was to secure appropriate textile manufacturing technology. The pattern had to be reproduced on fabric with exacting accuracy to ensure integrity of the â€œpixellationâ€. This pixellation is a key element of CADPATâ€™s overall effectiveness. Furthermore, the printing process had to produce a pattern which would be colour-fast and long-wearing (eg. highly fade-resistant) on the unique Canadian 50/50 NYCO lightweight combat uniform material. Finally, the dyes used had to be both colour-fast, and had to provide the desired level of IR protection (currently the highest level of protection offered by any military uniform, world-wide). Canadian manufacturers could not achieve the above requirements, and the required technology had to be imported from Barracuda of Switzerland.
Field trials were conducted as soon as the correct material could be manufactured into uniforms. The initial 6-month trial was conducted in 1998, using 660 CADPAT uniforms. 2 uniforms per man were issued to the members of 3 x 110-man Light Infantry Companies based in Eastern, Central and Western Canada. The results were extremely successful in every regard. The evaluatorsâ€™ only criticisms of the trials uniforms were related to minor tailoring details such as the omission of storm-cuffs in the pant legs. Reviews of the CADPAT performance in the field were universally enthusiastic. A final field trial (with the previous tailoring details addressed, but with â€œcoveredâ€ (as opposed to â€œexposedâ€) buttons was conducted in 2001. This time, the same soldiers were issued a single uniform. No change to the performance of the CADPAT â€“ the soldiers loved it. They didnâ€™t much care for the covered buttons, however this feature has now been incorporated into the second production run of the new uniform as a cost saving measure. The adoption of covered buttons means that a common tailoring pattern can be adopted by both the Canadian Army and Air Force.
I personally had numerous opportunities to observe both the initial and final CADPAT field trials throughout the period 1998-2001. My considered opinion is that the performance of the pattern under field conditions was nothing short of astounding. I‘ve worked with many different Armies over the past 22 years (U.S., British, German, French, Belgian, Polish, Dutch, Ukrainian, Malaysian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Uzbek, etc, etc) all of whom wear one type of camouflage pattern or another. I can honestly state that I‘ve never encountered another pattern that comes close to the CADPAT in terms of versatility and effectiveness in the field.
The first general-issue CADPAT item to be issued to the Canadian Army was the cover for the new Kevlar helmet. This item was received by the field force in 1998, and was actually manufactured by Barracuda of Sweden. Conversion to the CADPAT uniform itself commenced in late 2001. The delay in issuing the new uniform was related to manufacturing technology problems (dicussed above), which have since been addressed by the textile contractor. The CADPAT combat uniforms themselves, are manufactured by Peerless Garments Ltd, of Winnipeg Manitoba â€“ a long established Canadian Army contractor.
So, just how good is the Temperate CADPAT? According to the Canadian Defence Research Establishment, within the optimized target detection range of 50 to 300 metres, the pattern offers a scientifically-validated 45% increase in concealment (compared to the previous Canadian OG 107 combat uniform). Furthermore, it has been found that the enemy must be 35% closer to the wearer of CADPAT in order to detect him. The bottom line is that Temperate CADPAT currently provides the highest achievable level of clothing-based individual concealment in the environment for which it is intended. This assertion is based not on bias or conjecture. It is a fact derived from extensive scientific testing using both instrumented and human factors experimentation to obtain objective, qualitative and quantitative results. Provided that the CADPAT is employed against the intended range of temperate backgrounds, the digital pattern will offer the user a superior level of concealment against observation by eyesight, IR viewers and passive night vision devices. Superior to what you ask? The simple answer is every other pattern currently fielded by a NATO Army. In the last round of NATO field uniform trials, CADPAT clearly out-performed the U.S. Woodland, German Flecktarn, British DPM, Danish M/84, etc, etc, etc. This is not conjecture â€“ it is the validated result of recent multi-national trials.
An "Arid Regions" (eg. Desert) CADPAT has also been developed for use in arid environments. The exact same developmental process was employed to develop this pattern (imagery of various desert environments, etc, etc). I handled the prototype uniform during a Clothe The Soldier â€œshow and tellâ€ session, and must say that it also looks terrific. It is a 3-colour pattern (Pinkish-Tan, Medium Brown, and small flecks of Black). Unlike the U.S. MARPAT which uses the same basic pattern (with different colours) for its Temperate, Desert and Urban variants, the CADPAT AR is completely different from the Temperate pattern. The shapes within the Arid Regions CADPAT are much larger and more globular in shape than those of the Temperate pattern, which has a distinctively â€œhorizontalâ€ orientation. The requirement for 2 completely different CADPATs makes sense when you consider that the Desert pattern is optimized for concealment at longer detection ranges (300 to 600 metres) in more open terrain. The Desert CADPAT is now being produced in quantity for Arid Regions deployments.
Having exhausted my information regarding the development and relative effectiveness of the CADPAT TW and AR patterns,, I will shift gears and address the issue of CADPAT versus MARPAT development. There has been some discussion in various forums regarding which came first, and whether one pattern is a derivative of the other. As a result of personal discussions with the CADPAT project manager, I can state with 100% certainty that MARPAT is a direct derivative of CADPAT. The USMC apparently expressed considerable interest throughout the latter stages of CADPAT development. This interest peaked when scientific findings regarding the patternâ€™s efficacy indicated its superiority over every other temperate pattern currently fielded. The USMC was looking for a â€œdistinctiveâ€ Corps uniform, and the CADPAT fit the bill perfectly. At the USMCâ€™s request, the Canadian government â€œsharedâ€ CADPAT with the Corps for its new uniform trials. Minor adjustment of the pattern (different colours and inclusion of the USMC logo) apparently allowed the USMC to avoid paying licensing fees associated with any use of the copy-righted Canadian pattern. It is difficult to say just how similar the two patterns are without having an example of the MARPAT to compare against my issued CADPAT, however I am led to believe that they are virtually identical. Once again, this information is not conjecture on my part. These are the facts of the CADPAT versus MARPAT debate, as explained to me by our national Project Manager.
Well, that about wraps it up. I apologize for the lengthy message, but I hope that those who â€œstuck with itâ€, found my contribution useful. The bottom line is that anyone interested in the subject of CADPAT/MARPAT development and comparative effectiveness, now has access to just about all of the non-classified information currently available regarding those uniforms. Better yet, the information that I provided came direct from the writings and mouths of those responsible for the CADPAT project - it is pretty much unassailable."
So, there you have it - some concrete background information that hopefully sheds light on a number of questions. Not the least of which is "why digital patterns?". The short answer is, because they work better than anything else on the market....full stop.