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Military Uniforms Then and Now

Mar 2, 2008
Around the world, organized military forces of governments have many different types of military uniforms that they wear. Clearly being one of the founding fathers of the uniform, the militaries of countries have contributed greatly towards what constitutes a good uniform today.

In addition to offering protective features from the elements or even enemy fire military uniforms are also worn to signify a specific job role within the military. After the early 1900's, uniforms stopped being supplied in bright colors and instead, were supplied in more drab colors. Partially to aid in combat, these colors would often blend in with the surrounding areas on the battlefields. The dress uniforms, however, would continue to remain colorful and elaborate.

Uniforms have been designed to serve many purposes. Among these purposes are distinction, camouflage, logistics and psychological warfare. A brief description of each purpose follows:

Distinction:

One main reason for having uniforms is so that combatants can distinguish individuals protected by the laws of war and those who are allowed to carry weapons. Some individuals in war who carry weapons and fight back are often not protected by these laws. One other reason was to prevent army deserters from being able to modify their clothing to reflect more ordinary civilian clothing. The uniforms themselves were so distinct in design and style that these deserters could be easily identified.

Visibility & Camouflage:

The evolution of military uniforms from bright colors (to help in identification on a battle field) to more camouflaged ones (where they become virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape) is a clear indication of the purpose of a uniform. While previously important to find units in battle, the evolution of warfare has necessitated the more stealthier aspects of armies and hence more attention to camouflage.

Logistics:

During large wars, it is significantly easier to produce and equip armies with standard sized uniforms. This becomes a more economical way to outfit thousands of soldiers quickly and efficiently during a war.

Psychological Warfare:

In the past, uniforms were also used as a sort of psychological warfare. Form enhancing gear that make the soldiers appear larger and more formidable often strike fear into the opposing sides. Large caps, capes, specific colors all add to the psychological warfare of the military uniforms.

Modern day military uniforms are much more simpler. The US Army soldiers wear standard camouflage utilities for practically all purposes unless there is a dress parade or formal occasion where they will wear their full dress uniforms. Today, the tradition and reasons for wearing military uniforms still remain. It is unlikely that this tradition will change drastically in the future.
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