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People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

Algeria is today officially known as the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria (الجمهورية الجزائرية الديمقراطية الشّعبية). In antiquity the land was known as Numidia, later part of the Carthaginian, Roman, and Byzantine empires. Nomadic Berbers have made up a significant percentage of the population for thousands of years, and several Berber dynasties ruled much of the land during the Middle Ages. Islam was introduced by Arabs in the mid-7th century.

During the early part of the 16th century coastal areas of Algeria fell under control of the Spanish Empire, but most of these settlements (including Algiers) were later lost to the Ottomans and from 1517 until 1830 Algeria was considered part of the Ottoman Empire. It was during this period that England, France and Spain each lost thousands of merchant ships and captured slaves to pirates of the infamous Barbary Coast. The French would sieze control of Algiers in 1830 and lead a military conquest of the rest of Algeria that would last until 1848. Once under French control, Algeria was considered an integral part of France, with tens of thousands of Europeans emigrating there.

The Algerian War was launched by the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) in 1954 with the aim of liberating Algeria from French control. French forces were pitted against the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN), the armed wing of the FLN. The war was primarily a guerilla campaign, but it evolved into a civil war as well, with loyalist Algerians supporting the nation remaining French and the insurrectionists favoring independence. Combat even spilled over into France, in the form of the so-called "Cafe Wars," bombings and assassinations that centered around cafes, perpetrated both by the FLN and the rival Mouvement National Algérien (MNA). France ultimately capitulated after nine years of war and Algeria achieved its independence in 1963.

In 1991, civil war broke out again, pitting the Algerian goverment against several Islamist rebel groups, namely the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). During this time the government was essentially under military control. Dissident groups resorted to terrorism and initiated several massacres of Algerian civilians. The war effectively ended in 2002, although a splinter group calling itself Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat or GSPC (which has publicly endorsed Al-Qaeda and the killing of civilians) continue to wage a largely ineffective insurgency campaign against the government.

Camouflage Patterns of Algeria

  • During the Algerian War (1954-1962), Algeria was France's 10th Military Region, populated by its own distinctive native units including the Tirailleur infantry units, Spahi mechanized cavalry regiments, and several commando units. Some of these units, particularly the Commandos de Chasse or tracker units, were outfitted in French tenue de leópard or lizard pattern camouflage fatigues, caps and berets. Sources further suggest that following independence some units of the new Algerian Army continued to wear French camouflage fatigues, although they appear to have been phased out rather quickly.

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  • The photograph seen below [1] illustrates members of the ALN being inspected in 1962. They are wearing a spot-type camouflage pattern of undetermined design and unknown origins.


  • Very little is known about the Algerian Armed Forces during the first ten years of independence, but there is evidence suggesting that some units were actually issued Spanish rocoso pattern camouflage, probably during the 1970s or early 1980s.


  • A dark variation of the tenue de leópard or lizard pattern was issued by the Algerian Armed Forces at some point, probably in the 1990s. This design incorporates purple and very dark olive stripes on an olive green background. At this point, uniform styles followed closely the original French TAP design.


  • At some point, a desert DPM pattern similar to the original developed by the UK began seeing service with some Algerian units. Photographs have been difficult to date, but this was probably issued during the early-1990s and continues in service today.


  • Another DPM variant has been documented in service in recent years, incorporating dark green, reddish-brown & dark ochre shapes on a khaki background. This has been in service with several Army units (including special forces), as well as the Algerian Marines.


  • Several variations of woodland pattern camouflage are also worn by various Algerian units, including this version here with a lime-green base colors.


  • Two variations of a brushstroke camouflage design appear to be in service with the Algerian Armed Forces. One version (seen below, worn by an honor guard) incorporates dark olive green and russet shapes on a tan background, and may be in general service. Another variation appears to be worn strictly by Algerian Special Forces personnel, incorporating wide brushstrokes in purplish-brown & olive green on a sandy background.

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  • A variation of the traditional French lizard camouflage design was re-introduced at some point in recent years, and has been worn by some airborne units and possibly by conventional units as well. The colors appear darker than the original French patterns, having a slightly greyish tone similar to lizard camouflage that was produced in Yugoslavia and its later republics such as Croatia.


  • Another pattern to appear in recent years (2012) is this mottled brown design. It is presently uncertain whether this is being worn universally by the Algerian Army, or only by a specific unit.


  • The Garde Républicaine have their own camouflage pattern incorporating splinter-type shapes with a woodland palette. The shapes are often difficult to discern from a distance, making it easy to confuse this design with a variation of woodland pattern.



  1. Martin Windrow, MAA 312: The Algerian War 1954-62 (Osprey Pub, London, 1997), p 23