Socialist Republic of Vietnam
The country that is today officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam) was once a part of French Indochina. After the Japanese occupation of the Second World War ended, the Việt Minh (who had fought the Japanese during the war) strongly opposed French re-occupation of the country, which rapidly brought about the First Indochina War (1946 to 1954). Ten years later, the Geneva Accords of 1954 effectively ended the war by establishing Indochina's independence from France, and established two nations out of the territory traditionally considered Vietnamese, the Democratic Republc of Vietnam in the north, and the State of Vietnam in the south. Within a year, the South Vietnam was established after Ngô Đình Diệm deposed Emperor Bảo Đại. His refusal to enter negotiations with North Vietnam over holding nationwide elections led to gradual disintegration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the start of the Second Indochina War (1959 to 1975). Vietnam was reunited in 1975 when the US and its allies withdrew all forces from South Vietnam, which was rapidly overrun by when North Vietnamese troops shortly thereafter. The unified country was officially re-named the Socalist Republic of Vietnam, which it has remained to this day.
Vietnam overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime of Cambodia in 1978, leading to tense relations with China and ultimately sparking the brief Sino-Vietnamese war between February and March 1979. Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989.
The armed forces of Vietnam are called the Vietnam People's Army (Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam,) or VPA, and includes Ground Defense Forces, Border Defense Forces, the People's Navy, Marine Police (Coast Guard) and the People's Air Defense and Air Force. The national police force is called People's Police of Vietnam, which maintains public security and law enforcement.
Since the days of the Second Indochina War, Vietnamese forces have used a large number of camouflage patterns, most of which are produced locally. Some units have even worn VPA style uniforms made from surplus fabric leftover from the Republic of Vietnam era.
North Vietnamese Army Camouflage Patterns
- The standard operational uniform of the NVA was olive green, but sabotage units known as đặc công were issued with a special leaf-type camouflage pattern during the Vietnam War. At least two color variants are known. The pattern would later emerge under the VPA in a number of different colorations.
Vietnamese People's Armed Forces Camouflage Patterns
- The Vietnamese Special Forces or đặc công and airborne forces were issued spot camouflage patterns in the 1980s. Although a wider variety of camouflage was available from the 1990s onwards, use of this pattern by đặc công units continues. The green-based pattern seen here is believed to be the oldest version of this camouflage.
- Another spot pattern camouflage design worn by đặc công (VPA commandos) is seen here. Although similar to the above pattern, this one uses an entirely different set of drawings for the screens. This design seems to be of more recent vintage, and is still in current use with VPA special units.
- A variation of the above with a blue colorway has been worn by personnel of the Vietnamese Navy (Hải quân Nhân dân Việt Nam), including special forces (đặc công hải quân or đặc công nước) and security personnel.
- Introduced at some point during the 1990s (possibly after 1994), the series of green leaf camouflage patterns was collectively known as quân đội (Army). Several color variations are documented, and have been in service with the VPA well into the late 1990s. Although the shapes in the pattern differ considerably, the combination of three colors and the overall appearance of the design suggest these may have been influenced or based on the Soviet 1980 TTsKO three color design.
- The camouflage pattern seen here is of Chinese origin and dates to the 1990s. Uniforms were locally-made from imported Chinese fabrics and worn by some members of the VPA.
- In the mid-1990s, members of the đặc công Special Forces were observed wearing camouflage uniforms remarkably similar to those worn by the ARVN during the 1970s. While the uniforms were tailored in typical VPA style, the fabric weight and colors suggest the design was not simply a copy but in fact original fabric leftover from the Vietnam War.
- One of the more prolific patterns seen throughout the VPA is a hybrid tiger stripe with a palm leaf overprint. This design has been in general use with the VPA from 1994 to the present day. Several colourations exist.
- Another leaf pattern variant dating to the late 1990s is this so-called "yellow leaf" or "mustard leaf" pattern. This camouflage design appears to still be in circulation with some VPA units.
- A woodland style camouflage pattern was first adopted by the VPA in 2007 (called K07), printed on uniforms of a much more modern styling. Often nicknamed "lime woodland," the pattern features black, brown & green woodland shapes on a lime green base, and is worn by all branches of service.
- The Vietnamese Coast Guard wear a locally-produced woodland variant pattern with a blue colorway, seen here. This design has also been worn by the Naval Infantry of the Vietnam People's Navy (Hải quân nhân dân Việt Nam).
- Elements of the Vietnamese People's Air Force (Không Quân Nhân Dân Việt Nam) also wear a variation of woodland camouflage, distinguished by having a very pale blue background element.
- Elements of the Vietnamese Naval Infantry Brigade (Lữ đoàn Hải quân đánh bộ) have appeared in public wearing a true copy of the US m81 woodland camouflage pattern, although many of the uniforms seem to be some sort of wet-weather gear (possibly a copy of the US issued ECWCS).
Vietnamese Police Camouflage patterns
- The Vietnam People's Police also issue camouflage uniforms to some units. The pattern seen here, featuring dark green & ochre leaf elements on an off-white base, is the 1st pattern known to have been issued. It would date to approximately the late 1980s or early 1990s.
- The VPP 2nd camouflage pattern is seen here, having black & dark green leaf elements on a white background. This pattern has been used from the late 1990s to present day.
Unidentified Vietnamese Camouflage Patterns
- The following are taken from original samples but their use is undocumented. It is as yet undetermined what branches of service or specific units have worn these patterns, but all can be dated to the 1990s.
- A strange woodland variant pattern.
- A pattern having black & olive green amoeba shapes (some solid, some composed of lines, some of tiny dots) on a sea green background.
- A pattern having irregular brown & light olive green stripes on a yellow-tan base.
- A pattern having dark brown & mid-brown leaf elements with occasional brush strokes on a grey-olive base.