Chocolate Chip

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Chocolate Chip Camouflage

The term "chocolate chip" is a nickname for the six-color desert camouflage pattern originally developed by the United States in 1971. The design was primarily influenced by conditions encountered in the rocky deserts of California, with the nickname being applied by US soldiers who saw a resemblance in the scheme to chocolate chip cookie dough, a favourite American confection (baked or otherwise). The original design consisted of blotches in two shades of mid-brown over larger areas of sand & tan, dotted with smaller "rock" shapes printed in black & off-white. This camouflage pattern saw its heaviest production between 1981 and 1991. It was worn initially by US military personnel serving in the Sinai, but its most prevalent use was during Operation Desert Shield/Storm (the Persian Gulf War) and later in deployments to Somalia. Field experience showed that the design actually had limited effectiveness in many of the barren, sandy deserts of the Persian Gulf and North Africa, and beginning in 1991 it was replaced by the three-color desert pattern. Nevetheless, the original six-color design gained popularity with many nations, and has spawned a vast assortment of derivatives using different color schemes.

Early examples of the pattern illustrate slight differences in the size and percentage of black shown in the "chip" or "rock" elements, suggesting that the pattern was modified slightly at some early stage in its design. Missing from the majority of surviving first production uniforms, these inconsistencies are completely absent from later production uniforms. A comparison photograph of the two types (early/late) is also seen below.

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  • A copy of the six-color desert pattern was produced in China for use by special operations personnel, beginning in 1999.

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  • Egypt introduced its own locally-made copy of the six-color pattern at some point in the early 2000s.

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  • A version produced for Eritrea is seen here.

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  • A copy of the original design has also been produced by Iran, where it is worn by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Sepah commandos, among others. The design is also printed on NBC chemical suits.

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  • Although it did not see service under Saddam Hussein's regime, the new Iraqi Army has made considerable use of this camouflage design. Some versions have been locally-produced, whilst others are imported from Asian factories.

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  • Japan tested a hybrid variation of this desert pattern for use by troops deployed to desert regions, but it was never adopted. This is not a true copy of the pattern, but its influence can easily be discerned.

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  • Jordanian military forces have also been a frequent user of the pattern.

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  • In the early 2000s, Kazakhstan introduced a variation of the pattern incorporating a slightly different color scheme, with grey replacing the mid-browns and the primary shades having a much more yellowed appearance. Several variations of this pattern exist.

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  • Although Kuwaiti forces in exile did wear surplus US desert uniforms during the First Gulf War, Kuwait also adopted several variations of the pattern on its own, including blue and grey colorways for Police and Marine Forces, a version with "barbed wire" designs replacing the black "rock" elements, and a hybrid version worn by the Kuwaiti National Guard.

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  • Libya has copied the original pattern prolifically, and produced many color variations, including those seen here.

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  • A couple of variations of this pattern have been produced by Pakistan, including a copy worn by special units and a color variation worn by the Air Force.

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  • The Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police have worn at least three color variations of the pattern since 1995.

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  • A unique "orange" coloration of this pattern appeared among Rwandan forces in recent years.

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  • Another prolific user of the pattern and its variations has been the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which issued copies of the original design to its armed forces for many years. Additionally, a grey colorway design was issued to the Saudi Marines, and another color variation was introduced in the early 2000s for general issue.

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  • Somalia has also issued copies of the pattern to its armed forces.

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  • South Korean military forces deployed to the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and on several UN missions, wore locally-made copies of the original design.

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  • The Spanish copy of the six-color desert design incorporates the original color scheme but with an overall reduction by about 20%.

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  • The United Arab Emirates have also issued several copies and variations of the pattern over the years, including a "five color" variation that has no black elements at all.

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  • A variation produced for Yemen is seen here.

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