Islamic Republic of Iran
The present Islamic Republic of Iran (جمهوری اسلامی ایران) can trace its heritage back to the Elamite Kingdom of 2800 BC, and the subsequent Achaemenid, Hellenic Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanid Empires. A constitutional monarchy was established in 1906, but toppled during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
The Armed Forces of Iran consist of two distinct and separate forces: the conventional Armed Forces (including the Army, Navy, Air Force and Air Defense Force) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The latter includes branches equivalent to those of the conventional forces, plus Quds Force (special operations) and the Basij paramilitary volunteer force. The Iranian Police Force are primarily charged with domestic law enforcement, but also have special operations and emergency services elements.
The government of Iran has been a frequent supporter of revolutionary insurgent movements around the world, most notably Hezbollah (حزب الله or "party of God), which has been historically active in both Lebanon and Palestine.
Iranian Camouflage Patterns
- One of Iran's oldest camouflage designs is a brushstroke pattern that can be traced to the Shah period, where it was worn by the Army commandos and Navy special operations units. Some sources have also suggested it was worn by the Imperial Guard. A vertical brushstroke or stripe pattern featuring dark green and brown on a pale green or khaki background, several variations continued in use with this nation for the next twenty years.
- An early copy of the British DPM pattern was worn during the Shah period by Army commando and Navy special boat units.
- The rare and unique puzzle spot type pattern seen below was worn by the IRGC and Basij units during the Iran-Iraq war.
- A very similar pattern, having unconnected blotches of similiar colors, was worn by Army Commando forces during the Iran-Iraq war, and possibly even before 1979.
- Once an ally of the United States, Iran produced several copies of the US m1942 spot pattern camouflage beginning in the Imperial Period (1970s). Iranian spot pattern is nicknamed "panther" camouflage. The first use seems to have been by Imperial Navy commandos, but they continue to be worn into the present period, with a wide variety of colorways having been produced. The most commonly encountered of these are the tan or desert versions, frequently worn by takavar special operations personnel such as commandos, but also by regular Army units. Panther camouflage was heavily used by Basij volunteer forces during the Iran-Iraq War
- A variation of this pattern substitutes green for the more common khaki-brown. The version at the left is the earliest documented variation and was used by the Army since before 1979. Later variations can be dated to the Iran-Iraq War, and were worn by both Army and Basij units of the IRGC. Some more recent versions have been worn within the past 20 years as well.
- Several other variations are seen here, having distinctive colorways and worn primarily by Basij units of the IRGC, but also by some Army units during the Iran-Iraq War.
- Also pre-dating the Iran-Iraq War, several vertical brushstroke camouflage designs have also been employed by Iranian forces. The earliest examples appeared in the 1970s among the Navy Commandos (SBS), with Basij volunteer units and other units of the IRGC adopting similar patterns some time after 1979. The standard version, of which many variations are documented, incorporates black, reddish brown and olive green brush strokes on a khaki or tan background. However, there appear to be many variations. The influence appears to be originally French, via Israel.
- Another pattern with a number of variations is a sort of brushstroke design, but without clearly defined vertical pathways. Generally employing four colors: black, green, red, and a tan or khaki background, the patterns are associated with the Basij volunteer units and other members of the IRGC during the Iran-Iraq War. These designs are known colloquially as atishi (fire) and also Shahid Hemmati pattern (after martyred commander Hemmat who died during the war).
- Similar to the above pattern, but incorporating irregularly-shaped "islands" or blotches, is another pattern of the Basij volunteer units and frontier forces of teh IRGC during the Iran-Iraq War. They were worn primarily in the Southwest fronts, but there is some evidence to suggest they were also employed along the Western front against Kurdish dissidents. The color theme, black, green and red on tan or khaki, remains the same.
- A variation of the four-color desert DPM camouflage pattern first developed in the United Kingdom was also worn by some Basij volunteer units in the 1990s.
- Another DPM camouflage pattern, having black, forest green and ochre disrupstive shapes on a sandy background, is worn specifically by the NOHED or Niroe Vije Hava Bord (Special Air Service) Brigade 65, also known as the Iranian Rangers (Special Forces). The pattern came into use in the 1990s.
- The Marines of the Iranian Navy have their own distinctive camouflage design, a derivative of DPM but having "chip" type dots similar those found in the US six-color desert pattern. Several color variations have been documented.
- Two interesting leaf or ERDL pattern variations have been worn by the Basij or special operations units of the IRGC, dating to the late 1990s.
- The arid leaf design seen below is seldom-seen, but has been documented in use by some installation and prison guards.
- Several Iranian copies of the US m81 woodland camouflage pattern have been in use since the 1980s. These vary not only in the particular dye colors employed, but occasionally in the alignment of the screens during the printing process. Both the Army and IRGC wear the woodland pattern. In recent years, this was the standard camouflage pattern of the Army, but it is now being replaced by a DPM variant in desert colors.
- The Iranian Air Force wear a distinctive color variation of the woodland camouflage pattern, having black, blue & grey woodland shapes on a pale blue background.
- Units of the Air Defence Forces (Padafand-e Hava-e) wear a leaf style pattern having black, reddish-brown, periwinkle blue, and olive green leaf shapes on a tan background.
- Yet another woodland variation is worn by the Emergency Brigade (Yegane Emdad) of the Iranian Police (Niroe Entezami), and also by Border Guard units. This arid pattern has dark brown, dark green & olive green woodland shapes on a pale orange background. The pattern seems to be aligned vertically, differing from the woodland drawings from which it appears to be derived. Whether this is intention or not cannot be determined.
- Copies of the US six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern camouflage have been worn by the IRGC Sepah Commandos, among others.
- A variation of the six-color "chocolate chip" camouflage design is also found on NBC protective suits issued to all branches of the armed forces.
- Iranian Military Police and Base Guard units wear a pattern derivative of the US-developed "chocolate chip" but using different screens. The design features blotches of dark brown, light brown and lime green, with "chips" of white & black on a tan base.
- Presently, units of the Iranian Army wear a desert or arid DPM camouflage pattern, having dark brown, light olive green & sandy-orange disruptive shapes on a sandy background. The pattern was originally issued to members of the Special Operations Brigade 23.
- A very unique camouflage design is worn by the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Guards. The design is a pattern of black & white dots within circles over an underprinted shapes in two colors of grey.
- In the present era, Iranian Police Border Guards and special operations units of the IRGC have worn a copy of the US tricolor desert camouflage pattern. The pattern is called Marz Bani (border guard) by some.
- Another copy of an American camouflage pattern is worn both by the Iranian Marine Commandos and some units of the Basij. This is a faithful copy of the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) developed for the US Army.
- Circa 2009, Iran introduced its first pixelated camouflage design, a desert pattern of three shades of brown on a tan background.
- Another recent pixelated camouflage design, adopted in 2010-2011, is issued to the Air Defense Forces.
- Marines of the Iranian Navy have recently adopted their own pixelated variation of their old pattern.
- Another unit to have adopted a pixelated camouflage design is NOHED or Niroe Vije Hava Bord (Special Air Service) Brigade 65. The pattern is essentially a digitized version of their old DPM pattern.
- The arid-desert pattern seen below was introduced in 2010-11 and is now being worn by members of the IRGC.
- As of 2013, the Basij forces of the IRGC also have their own pixelated camouflage design. The pattern incorporates black, ochre and green shapes on a khaki background. At least two versions are known to exist, one having a more dense concentration of darker colors on the lighter background. Despite these differences, the colors employed in the design appear to be relatively consistent.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Amin Allah Shakeri for his generous assistance in helping create this page.