East Timor

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Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor)

The modern state of East Timor (officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, or Repúblika Demokrátika Timór-Leste) comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor in Southeast Asia. Colonized by Portugal in the 16th century (during which time it was known as Portuguese Timor), the region declared its independence in 1975 only to be invaded by Indonesia a few months later. From 1975 until 1999, East Timor was governed by Indonesia and considered a 27th province. Following a war of independence and under United Nations urging, Indonesia eventually relinquished control and the sovereign nation of East Timor was declared on 20 May 2002.

Organized in 2001 from elements of the Forças Armadas de Libertação de Timor-Leste (Armed Forces for the Liberation of East Timor) or FALINTIL, the armed forces of East Timor are known as the Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste or FDTL. With approximately 1,500 active duty personnel (as of 2010), the FDTL are primarily a ground-defence force comprised of two light infantry battalions, with a small naval component for coastal defence. Also formed in 2001, the Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste (National Police of East Timor) provide additional law enforcement and internal security services to the nation.

The region's close historical and political ties to Portugal have influenced both the insignia and the camouflage dress of its combat services.

Camouflage Patterns of East Timor

  • Throughout the war for independence, elements of the FALINTIL were documented wearing locally-produced uniforms printed in a copy of the East German strichtarn camouflage pattern.

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  • Another frequently encoutered camouflage pattern among some members of FALINTIL was the old Portuguese Air Force "vertical lizard" camouflage pattern. Owing to the similarity in uniform style to the original Portuguese designs, it is presumed these uniforms were sourced from that nation.

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  • Likewise, many FALINTIL members also wore the late issue Portuguese m63 "vertical lizard" design, also in typical Portuguese style uniforms.

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  • The newly formed FDTL were initially outfitted in Portuguese DPM pattern camouflage uniforms from around 2002. It is believed these uniforms have gradually been replaced by the standardized lizard design.

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  • From 2004 onwards, the FDTL began issuing its own distinctive BDU-style camouflage uniforms printed in a copy of the French lizard camouflage pattern that originated in China. This remains the standard combat pattern of the FDTL.

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  • Another pattern adopted by the FDTL is a copy of the USMC MARPAT camouflage design.

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  • First appearing in photographs from early 2014, the pixelated design seen here has now been adopted by the Army. The pattern has black, brown and bright green shapes on a tan background, as well as a crocodile and a chicken embedded into the design.

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  • The Unidade Patrullamentu Fronteira (Border Patrol) of the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (National Police) wear a woodland-type camouflage pattern having black, medium-brown, and sand-colored shapes on a grey background.

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