Sultanate of Oman
The Sultanate of Oman (سلطنة عمان) has been in existence since at least the late 17th century, during which time it exerted considerable influence over the Persian Gulf and parts of the Indian Ocean. The capital of Muscat had been occupied by Portugal for nearly 150 years, beginning in 1507 CE. The current ruling line of sultans first took control in 1741 when the leader of an Omani tribe wrested lands from those who had previously ousted the Portuguese. The country today is an absolute monarchy under hereditary leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, who deposed his father in 1970.
Oman has long based its own military traditions on those of the British Armed Forces, and this influence continues well into the present era. Although relatively small by international standards, the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces (القوات المسلحة لسلطان عمان) are well-trained and have benefited from a long-standing relationship with the British Army (and Royal Marines), in which large numbers of officers and NCOs are seconded to the SOAF as instructors. The present makeup of the armed forces consist of the Royal Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, the Royal Guard (which includes Special Forces), and the Royal Oman Police. Although a wide number of camouflage patterns have been worn by the Armed Forces and paramilitary units of Oman, they are all based around the original British Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) design that was introduced in the 1960s.
Omani Camouflage Patterns
- The earliest usage of camouflage by the Sultan of Oman's forces can be unquestionably linked to the longstanding relationship the nation has formed with the United Kingdom. Vintage photographs illustrate members of the Royal Guard wearing what appear to be standard British DPM pattern uniforms, either obtained through British military sources or via contract with British manufacturers.
- The standard and the most recognizable Omani DPM pattern is a reddish-brown or orange variant that has been in service since the 1980s. Although several variations have been documented, in general the pattern incorporates black, reddish-brown & pale orange disruptive shapes on a pale green or (later) sand-colored background. This has remained the standard camouflage pattern of the Royal Army of Oman into the present period. Seen below are several variations, some imported from foreign factories and others possibly locally made from imported fabrics.
- As mentioned above, the pale green element of the early Oman DPM design was later changed to sand or light khaki color, probably at some time during the late 1990s or early 2000s. As seen by the examples below, this change gives the camouflage design a considerably different appearance.
- The Royal Guard of Oman are a special unit of the Armed Forces with specific protective and ceremonial duties to the Sultanate. They have worn various types of "standard" DPM camouflage since their founding, including the variant seen here, having black, medium brown, and dark green disruptive shapes on a pale green background, but without the stippling ordinarily found in ordinary DPM-derivatives. The pattern is also attributed to the Sultan's Special Forces, although in practice they seem more inclined to wear copies of the standard British DPM pattern.
- A variant of the above design using an urban grey colorway is also attributed to the Royal Guard of Oman, most likely to units tasked with special protective and counter-terrorist duties. Using the same drawings as the Royal Guard pattern, this version incorporates black, dark grey and medium grey disruptive shapes on a light grey background.
- In more recent years (2000s) other variations of DPM have been worn by the Royal Guard, including those types illustrated below. Photographic documentation suggests that color variations have changed many times, making proper identification of all variants quite challenging.
- A three-color desert DPM pattern has been worn by the Royal Air Force of Oman, derivative of an original British Army design (never adopted by the UK).
- A four-color desert DPM pattern is also worn by the Royal Air Force of Oman. This design also incorporates a bright mustard yellow color into the scheme. Several variations of this pattern from different production runs have been documented.
- Another DPM variation is worn by some Omani Navy personnel, incorporating grey, russet and ochre shapes on a light tan background.
- The Oman Police Service are documented as wearing two DPM patterns. The more common of the patterns resembles those worn by many other Gulf States, including Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE. This DPM variant features black, dark grey & lavender-grey disruptive shapes on a pale blue background.
- Another camouflage design attributed to the Oman Police Service is seen here, being what appears to be a blue overdyed version of the standard Royal Army pattern. Whether this overdying was done at the textile factory or by the Omanis themselves is uncertain, as few extant samples have been documented. This may, in fact, have simply been an early stop-gap method to create a unique camouflage for the Police Service to distinguish them from the Army (in which case, it certainly pre-dates the above pattern).
- The DPM camouflage design below is attributed to the Oman Ministry of the Interior. The black, grey & tannish-grey disruptive shapes on a solid white background is, like most of the Omani camouflage designs, derivative of the original British drawings.
- The Ministry of Defense issues its own variation of DPM, having russet, dark olive green, and grey-green disruptive shapes on a pinkish-sand background.
- Another brown-dominant DPM pattern with similar properties to the above is worn by Oman. This may be an earlier version of the MOD pattern, or it may be issued to a different governmental agency.
- Additionally the Special Forces Regiments now issue their own distinctive arid/desert DPM variation, having russet, pale yellow and olive green disruptive shapes on a sand-colored background.