Republic of Cyprus
The Republic of Cyprus (Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία - Greek; Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti - Turkish) is an island nation in the Eastern Mediterranean; it is the third largest, and most populous island in the region. A Neolithic village site (Khirokitia) has established human habitation here as early as the 10th millennium BCE.
The island has been occupied by a number of major ancient powers, including those of Assyria, Egypt and Persia (although it was first settled by Mycenaean Greeks in the 2nd millennium BCE) and later by Macedonia, Rome and Byzantium. Following periods of control by the French Lusignans, Venetians and Arab Caliphates, the island came under the influence and control of the Ottoman Empire, and remained thus administered from 1571 until 1878. Formally annexed by Great Britain in 1914, Cyprus was later granted full independence in 1960, becoming a part of the British Commonwealth.
Historically, the island has been most heavily populated by people of both Greek and Turkish ancestry, although there is a significant minority of Armenians and Arabic-speaking Maronites as well. A period of violent struggle for control of the nation between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots began in 1963 and lasted for eleven years, nearly sparking a war between the nations of Greece and Turkey. In July 1974, a coup d’etat was organized by Greek Cypriot nationalists (with assistance from the Greek military junta), with the idea of achieving unification between Cyprus and Greece. Five days later, Turkish forces invaded the northern portion of the island and remained thereafter in occupation, effectively dividing the country along old ethnic boundaries. A separate Turkish Cypriot political entity was officially established in 1983, and remains in control of north Cyprus into the present era. Today approximately 59% of the island is under control of the officially recognized government of the Republic of Cyprus, with the remaining area (calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but recognized only by Turkey) effectively controlling the remainder. The occupation of the northern part of the island by Turkey is considered illegal by the majority of the international community.
The armed forces of the Republic of Cyprus are comprised in the Cypriot National Guard (Εθνική Φρουρά). Consisting of ground, air and naval elements, the Cypriot NG has traditionally been heavily based on the Greek model, with combat uniform traditions being no exception. For many years the majority of Cypriot guardsmen wore imported or locally-made copies of the standard Greek military lizard pattern camouflage (with similar variability among the different manufacturers and years of production). It has only been recently that national patterns were adopted, setting the Cypriots somewhat apart from their Greek cousins.
Camouflage Patterns of the Cyprus National Guard
- One of the earliest patterns to be associated with Cyprus is not, in fact, of Greek origin. Consisting of thick black, brown and green vertical stripes on a pale green background, the origins of pattern can in fact be traced to Singapore, where it was worn by their Commando Regiment. Some evidence suggests the design itself may have originated in Israel, although whether designed commercially or for IDF use is uncertain. Within the Cypriot National Guard, this design has been observed worn by the Navy Commandos (OYK) in the 1980s and 1990s. A couple of different variations of this pattern have been documented, although it is not yet certain whether all were actually worn by Cypriot forces.
- It is surmised that the Cypriot National Guard did not adopt the Greek lizard patterns until perhaps the 1980s or so, they being in large part distributed only to special operations elements of the Greek Armed Forces until that time anyway. The patterns seen here are the most commonly encountered Greek-produced patterns, although it is likely any number of variations may have ended up in the hands of the Cypriots as well.
- Locally-made copies of the Greek lizard pattern probably date to the late 1980s or early 1990s. There seem to be a number of color variations, of which not all have been documented as being necessarily for military use. Seen below are three common variations. To the left a "brown lizard" pattern that diverges from the traditional Greek color schemes, and in the center and right copies of the green lizard pattern with less-detailed stripes.
- Around 2003, a camouflage pattern emerged for general issue to Cypriot National Guard ground forces that completely broke away from the traditional associations with the Greek Armed Forces. Consisting of grey-green, stone & medium grey shapes on sand background, the pattern is not known to be based specifically on any other design. Later variants incorporate the Cypriot National crest within the design.
- Another variation to emerge shortly thereafter, similar to the ground forces version but incorporating darker colors and one shade of blue, is worn by the air elements of the Cypriot National Guard.
- Elements of the National Guard Army and Navy Special Forces wear a copy of the USMC MARPAT Woodland pattern camouflage.
- Elements of the National Guard Special Operations Command wear the USA designed Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP).
Camouflage Patterns worn by Northern Cypriot Forces
The armed forces providing security for the northern part of Cyprus are called the Security Forces Command (Güvenlik Kuvvetleri Komutanlığı). Like the Cypriot National Guard, this is a combined force with land, naval and air elements, but using Turkish forces as a model. It is believed there are approximately 9,000 Turkish Cypriot men in the GKK, comprising 15 battalions in two brigades. They are trained and supplied by the Turkish Armed Forces.
- Turkish-produced copies of the US m81 woodland pattern were worn until the adoption of the pixelated pattern seen below.
- The standard pixelated camouflage design of the Turkish Army is also currently worn by the GKK.