Mozambique

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Republic of Mozambique

Ths nation is today known as the Republic of Mozambique (República de Moçambique). Migrations of Bantu-speaking people from the 1st through 5th centuries CE populated most of the region, establishing agricultural communities in the interior, and societies based on fishing towards the coast. In later years, the arrival of Arab traders brought an abundance of new products, technologies and ideas, and a desire for gold and slaves. From around 1500, Portuguese merchants began arriving in Mozambique, establishing small trading settlements and forts along the coast and displacing many of the Arab coastal establishments. Expanding their influence to the interior, the Portuguese encountered Arab resistance around 1698 and retreated south, where they were forced to compete with British and French trading interests. Nevertheless, Portugal solidified its hold on the Overseas Province of Mozambique by shifting much of the administrative duties over to large, private companies. With British financing, these companies established ports, roads, and railroads to the interior and neighboring countries, mostly with incredibly cheap or forced local labor.

By the early 20th century, however, the Portuguese government labored towards greater control over its colonial overseas possessions and did not renew the companies' concessions. In the 1950s, the status of Mozambique changed from colony to overseas province, and in the early 1970s it became a non-sovereign state. Despite the Portuguese policy of assimilation and a greater degree of administrative automony, however, the push for universal African independence reached the nation in the early 1960s. This manifested primarily in the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique or FRELIMO (Liberation front of Mozambique), a Marxist-Leninist political party which organized an armed guerilla movement to wrest control away from the Portuguese. From 1964 until 1974, European and African units of the Portuguese Armed Forces effectively held the guerilla army at bay, despite FRELIMO's support from both the USSR and Communist China. The Colonial War (which Portugal was fighting concurrently in Angola and Portuguese Guinea as well) eventually took its toll on the European nation, and in April 1974 when a military junta wrested control of the government from the nation's Estado Novo regime, liberation for the province was not away. On 25 June 1975, Mozambique became independent.

The new government, under the leadership of Samora Machel, would lend its assistance to a number of other revolutionary insurgent movements, notably the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) operating in Rhodesia, and the African National Congress (ANC) from South Africa. In turn, the governments of Rhodesia and South Africa sponsored and supported an anti-Communist paramilitary movement called Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Mozambique National Resistance) or RENAMO. Founded in 1975, RENAMO guerillas would wage a continuous civil war against the government of Mozambique from 1977 until 1992, when peace talks and movements towards a multi-party political system based on capitalism sponsored by the country's new president Joaquim Chissano brought an end to hostilities. With more than 1.7 million people displaced during the ten year civil war, it took nearly three years for the majority of these people to be repatriated.

Mozambique's armed forces are called the Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique or FADM, comprising the Land Forces, Air Force, and Navy, with just over 11,000 active duty personnel.

Camouflage Patterns of Mozambique

  • During the Colonial War period, European and African units of the Portuguese Armed Forces were issued the standard m63 "vertical lizard camouflage pattern uniforms. These uniforms remained in service with the early armed forces of Mozambique, and in fact the camouflage design has been emulated by the nation ever since. Significant numbers of the original uniforms were also worn by RENAMO.

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  • The Eastern European "falling rain" or "rice fleck" pattern was also worn in significant numbers by insurgent groups during the 1960s and 1970s. Both FRELIMO and, later, RENAMO forces have been documented wearing the pattern.

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  • Another camouflage design supplied to FRELIMO was the Czechoslovakian mracky or "clouds" design.

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  • The USSR also supplied some numbers of the KLMK solnechnye zaychiki or "sun bunnies" camouflage uniforms to FRELIMO during its insurgency campaign.

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  • This variation of the DPM pattern was produced in South Africa and supplied in some quantity to members of RENAMO. It's first documented appearance was in the early 1980s, but there is evidence to suggest the pattern was still being worn by some Renamo personnel in the early to mid-1990s. Various theories about the camouflage pattern suggest it was either copied from a design already in use by an African government or insurgent force, or that it was a "generic" design created for issue to the Reconaissance (Special Forces) personnel of the South African Defence Force.

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  • Although the Mozambique armed forces would continue to wear variations of the m63 "vertical lizard" design well into the present period, there has been virtually no consistency with regards to the pattern coloration, type of fabric, or even uniform construction. Although Portuguese uniform styles have been preferred, some contracts produced slightly different designs, and there seem to be a multitude of color variations that have appears during various periods. Illustrated below are just a few examples that have been documented. It should be noted that some of these patterns have also been used by guerilla movements in other African nations, notably Angola and South West Africa.

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  • The contemporary pattern of the FADM is slightly different, although still obviously inspired by the original Portuguese m63 design. Produced in Asia for export specifically to the FADM, during the very early period of the Afghanistan War the Northern Alliance also used this pattern (although in a completely different uniform style).

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  • Most recently, the Naval Forces of the FADM have been documented wearing a completely new pattern, having brown and grey woodland-type shapes on a pale grey background.

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  • Circa 2014, high ranking members of the Police and Provincial Police forces were observed wearing uniforms in a variation of the "falling rain" or "rice fleck" pattern camouflage similar to that produced in East Germany and Poland. Additional documentation suggests other ranks may also be issued uniforms in this pattern, likely to be ex-DDR issue. Some differences have been observed suggesting both surplus East German and newly produced fabrics have been used, perhaps through different contracted sources.

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