Sri Lanka

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Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (இலங்கை ஜனநாயக சமத்துவ குடியரசு) is a large island nation off the southern coast of India. Once known as Ceylon (until 1972), the country was declared a British crown colony in 1802 and served as an important allied military base during the Second World War. The nation was granted independence in 1948.

Sri Lanka was wracked by civil war from 1983 to 2009, pitting the government forces of the dominant Sinhalese culture against the minority Tamil population. The latter formed their own government, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and armed forces, whose primary purpose was to establish an independent state in the north and east sections of the island. In May 2009, the insurrection was officially declared over.

Camouflage Patterns of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces

  • The Sri Lanka Armed Forces did not employ camouflage uniforms for many years, the standard combat uniform being olive green. With the formulation of the Special Task Force in 1983 (a special unit of the Sri Lanka Police Service), trained by ex-British Special Forces personnel, the use of camouflage began to gain popularity. Originally supplied with British DPM camouflage uniforms, the unit now wears locally-produced uniforms based on the British original.

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  • The first Army unit to receive camouflage uniforms was were the Commandos, the special operations unit of the Sri Lankan Army. This unit of highly-specialized soldiers wear US m81 woodland camouflage uniforms sourced from a variety of places, including the USA and Pakistan.

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  • Circa 2006, Instructors of the Police Special Task Force (STF) began wearing Thai-manufactured, commercial-style tiger stripe camouflage uniforms to distinguish them from regular personnel.

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  • The Sri Lankan Air Force wear a variation of the woodland camouflage design having a blue colorway and an eagle logo embedded into design.

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  • The Sri Lankan Navy briefly wore a variation of the woodland camouflage design having the SLN anchor logo embedded into pattern.

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  • In 2009, the Special Boat Squadron of the Sri Lankan Navy began wearing a digital pattern of black, brown & grass green on a khaki-tan background. In May of 2010, it was announced that the entire Sri Lankan Navy would adopt this pattern.

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  • Originally tested for use by the Commando Regiment, the camouflage design seen below was officially adopted by the entire Sri Lankan Army in May of 2010.

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  • Officially known as the Department of Civil Security, the Sri Lanka Civil Security Force is a paramilitary organization that functions as an auxiliary to the Sri Lanka Police. Circa 2013, members of this Force appeared in public wearing locally-produced camouflage uniforms printed with a copy of the US designed tricolor desert pattern. The uniforms may be strictly for public appearances, rather than intended for operational deployments.

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Camouflage Patterns of the LTTE

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள) was a seperatist movement based in northern Sri Lanka that waged a long civil war against the government from 1976 to 2009, in an attempt to establish state for the Tamil people. They were militarily defeated in May of 2009 following the death of key military leaders and several essential victories by government forces, including the capture of the LTTE capital Kilinochchi. Over the course of the civil war, the LTTE had amassed considerable military resources, fielding not only ground forces, but both sea and air elements as well (known as the Sea Tigers and Air Tigers, respectively). Each branch of service wore a variation of a unique "cactus" camouflage pattern with a different colorway.

  • The standard "cactus" pattern of the LTTE consists of horizontal "spiny" stripes of brown & grass green on a khaki background. Both horizontal and vertically-oriented variants have been documented.

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  • The LTTE Air Tigers pattern is seen below (left), having a powder-blue colorway but utilizing essentially the same "spiny" stripe pattern of the standard design. The pattern worn by the Sea Tigers is seen to the right, essentially the same colorway but with the addition of a darker blue stripe added to the mix.

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  • Another variation of the "spiny" stripe design is seen here, with a black & grey colorway. This design was issued to the Black Tigers (கரும்புலிகள்), a elite organization of the LTTE which often launched suicide attacks against both military and civilian targets.

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