Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
MARPAT (short for MARine PATtern), or Marpat, is a digital camouflage pattern in use by the United States Marine Corps. The pattern comprises a number of small pixels of color. In theory, it is a far more effective camouflage than standard uniform patterns, due to the blending of colors. Marpat is a trademark of the United States Marine Corps. It is the new camouflage design now used by the Marines. It is also known as the "Digital Pattern" because of its small block pattern rather that the older blob style used.
The concept of using miniature swatches of color as opposed to large splotches is not a new concept; in World War II, German troops used a pattern called flecktarn, which involved similar small dabs of color on a uniform to provide camouflage. It is currently debated whether the MARPAT uniform was partially inspired by the Canadian Armed Forces CADPAT, also a digital camouflage pattern. While it is generally accepted that the Canadians were the first to develop and issue the style, the developers of MARPAT claim that they developed theirs independantly of CADPAT.
There are three MARPAT patterns: woodland, desert, and urban. As of 2004, the woodland and desert patterns are used by the Marine Corps, but the urban pattern was never approved. The uniform has met with some resistance initially among Marines, but has since been adopted as the standard-issue uniform for all USMC forces. However, the MARPAT uniform has made at least some headway with other services; the US Army and US Air Force are currently developing their own digital pattern camouflage designs, following the Marine Corps' lead.
The purpose of the digitized pattern is to distort focus rather than blend with the environment. When compared to a white background the MARPAT does look surprising and would seem to catch attention, but when used in an operative environment, the eyes tend to glaze over the pattern unable to focus on a particular figure or silouette.
Commercial versions of the MARPAT are available, but they lack one important quality. The official MARPAT uniform has the marine insignia inside the pattern, commercial versions do not.
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