WWI – Soldiers wore the M1912/17 uniform which ranged in color from medium brown and mustard brown with a hint of green. As the war progressed, the uniforms became greener. They had stand-up collars, four patch pockets with single-point flaps, and steel trench helmets.
WWII – In addition to the woolen uniform worn by most U.S. soldiers in Europe, the Herringbone Twill fatigues saw frequent use in the Pacific theater and were eventually adopted by the Marines. The twill material was treated to protect from chemical burns. The first camouflage uniforms, with “Duck hunter” or “Frog” pattern, were also issued toward the end of the war.
Korean War – The uniforms of the Korean War were largely the same as WWII, but were modified to withstand the harshKorean winters. Also, in 1949, the U.S. Army separated uniforms into two categories: 1) Garrison and Duty, and 2) Field and Work. The iconic M-1951 Field Jacket was introduced during this time.
Vietnam War – By 1963, tropical clothing was produced specifically for fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. Buttons were covered to prevent snagging, and soldiers were issued insect repellant. The newly developed Mitchell camouflage was a reversible pattern for shelter and helmet covers. Though it was not official, Special Forces units also adopted the Vietnamese “Tigerstripe” pattern.
Iraq & Afghanistan – The Gulf War’s Desert Battle Dress Uniform, often called Cookie-Dough Camouflage, was replaced after a series of field tests in 2003 and 2004 with the current Universal Camouflage Pattern. Its pixilation is based on the Marine Corps’ “MARPAT” pattern. Recently, however, this pattern has been under scrutiny, with soldiers claiming it is ineffective against the rocky terrain of Afghanistan. In March of this year, five design teams were selected to improve upon the military’s uniform. If one proves successful, troops could see a uniform change in the coming years.