Republic of Cuba
The modern Republic of Cuba (República de Cuba) came into existence following the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959), in which armed revolutionaries under Fidel Castro (the 26th of July Movement) successfully overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista. Displeased with the socialist leanings of the new government, the United States trained and supported a military force of Cuban exiles to lead an assault on the fledgling Cuban Army. This operation, the Bay of Pigs Invastion (April 17-19 1961) was a complete failure and did nothing to destablize Castro's control over the island nation. By 1963 the new government was moving towards a Communist system based on that of the USSR, with whom the nation would have strong ties for many decades.
The standard operational uniform of the Cuban Armed Forces has been olive green for many decades, but special units have been issued with camouflage uniforms from the 1970s onwards. These include special forces, border troops at Guantanamo Bay, and the several thousand Cuban military personnel that have served as advisors in southern Africa.
Cuban Camouflage Patterns
- Probably the oldest Cuban-designed camouflage design is the so-called elm leaf pattern. This is an overprint pattern of black (quickly fading to a shade of dark blue) and brown shadows on a green background, creating elm leaf shapes. Introduced as early as the late 1960s and worn into the 1980s, the pattern appears to have been limited to the Tropas Especiales (Special Troops) of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior.
- Emerging in the 1970s and based on the French tenue du leopard camouflage design, the Cuban grey lizard pattern has remained in service into the present day. Consisting of dark grey & golden brown or brown stripes on medium grey background, the design is best known for its use by Cuban advisors to southern Africa. It is also worn by the Guantanamo Bay Border Guards. This design has also been worn by FAPLA and contemporary forces in Angola. Several manufacturers are known, resulting in a significant number of variations being produced over the years.
- The Tropas Especiales of the Cuban Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR) or Revolutionary Armed Forces wear a three-color "amoeba" pattern consisting of dark green and reddish brown amoeba shapes on moss green base. The design seems to have been introduced in the 1990s and continues to be worn today.
- Another current issue pattern is the "vertical brushstroke" pattern, consisting of reddish brown and dark green vertical stripes on a light green background. The pattern is also worn by Tropas Especiales of the FAR, but may be issued to other personnel as well.
Other Camouflage Patterns Worn in Cuba
- The CIA-trained military force of 1500 Cuban exiles that took part in the Bay of Pigs Invasion were known as Brigade 2506. This small unit was outfitted with commercial duck hunter pattern camouflage utilities provided by the CIA and even had their own shoulder insignia. The pattern, loosely based on the WW2 era M1942 spot pattern, would later appear in use among US military advisers to South Vietnam and those operating elsewhere in Southeast Asia.