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The Woodland Pattern was the default camouflage pattern issued to the United States Armed Forces from 1981, with the issue of the Battle Dress Uniform, until its replacement in the mid 2000s.[1] It is a four color, high contrast disruptive pattern with irregular markings in sand, brown, green and black. It is also known unofficially by its colloquial moniker of "M81",[2][3] though this term was not used by the U.S. military.

U.S Woodland
"M81" U.S. woodland camouflage pattern swatch.png
Digital swatch woodland pattern.
TypeMilitary camouflage pattern
Place of originUnited States of America
Service history
In service
  • 1981-2004 (US Army Service)
  • 1981-Present (US Navy - Navy SEALs and SWCC)
  • 1981-2011 (US Air Force)
  • 1981-Present (State defense forces)
  • 1981-2002 (US Marine Corps)
    2011-Present (United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command only)
  • 1981–present (Other countries)
Used byU.S. Marine Corps (Former)
U.S. Navy (Former)
See Users (for other non-U.S. users)
WarsVietnam War (as ERDL)
Invasion of Grenada
United States invasion of Panama
Somali Civil War
Gulf War
Yugoslav Wars
Operation Uphold Democracy
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Iraq War
2008 Cambodian-Thai stand-off
Russo-Georgian War
Syrian Civil War
Production history


Development and historyEdit

Woodland pattern is identical to ERDL, but is printed from an enlargement of the original.[4] The Woodland pattern was enlarged and the borders of the splotches were re-drawn to make them less regular. Part of the earlier pattern was left off the later pattern because the enlargement made them no longer fit on the width of the bolt of cloth. The pattern does not repeat horizontally across the width of the bolt, but only vertically along its length.

The effect of enlarging the pattern was to make the pattern more visible at a distance, avoiding "blobbing", where smaller areas of color seem to blend into larger blobs. This also gave the pattern a higher contrast, making it stand out more sharply at close distances and defeating the camouflage effect at closer range. Digital and Flecktarn camouflage patterns resolve this problem by using a range of blob sizes to give a similar effect whatever the distance.

These changes reflected a shift in the tactical focus of the United States military from an extremely close-range war in Vietnam to a longer-range battlespace on the fields of Europe.[5]


U.S. Army National Guardsmen on an exercise in 2000 while wearing Woodland BDUs and PASGT helmets

U.S. ArmyEdit

In the U.S. Army, the woodland patterned Battle Dress Uniform was replaced by the digital Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) found on the Army Combat Uniform, introduced in 2004. UCP itself is being replaced by the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP), scheduled to be completed in 2019.

U.S. NavyEdit

The U.S. Navy retains the Woodland Pattern for specific units and organizations, such as the U.S. Navy SEALs and SWCC, who are currently the primary U.S. users of this uniform. Sailors have otherwise transitioned to the Navy Working Uniform.

U.S. MarinesEdit

The Woodland Pattern BDU was phased out by the Marine Corps with the introduction of the digital MARPAT Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform in 2002, although it was reintroduced for the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in 2011[6] and was also worn by MARSOC forces in the War in Afghanistan.

U.S. Air ForceEdit

The Air Force phased out the woodland pattern battle dress uniform in 2011 when they went to the Airman Battle Uniform which uses a pixelated incarnation of the Tigerstripe pattern, which in turn will be replaced by the Army's OCP by 2021. Also the Civil Air Patrol (U.S Air Force Auxiliary) still uses it although the BDU is being replaced by the ABU. [7]

State defense forcesEdit

Several state defense forces use the Woodland Pattern on their BDUs.[8][9][10]


Russian Internal Troops wearing LES, a Russian camouflage pattern similar to the BDU's camouflage

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Christine O. Hardyman, ed. (1988). "Chapter 7: Support Services". Department of the Army Historical Summary FY 1981. United States Army Center of Military History.
  2. ^ "M81 Woodland". Camopedia.
  3. ^ "Woodland Back". Soldier Systems. November 2014.
  4. ^ "Woodland - Camopedia". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
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  7. ^ Losey, Stephen (May 14, 2018). "The long-awaited OCP uniform is on its way to the Air Force — and here's when you could get it". Air Force Times. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  8. ^ "Questions & Answers about the Tennessee State Guard". Third Regiment of the Tennessee State Guard Official Website. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  9. ^ "VDF Regulation 670-1" (PDF). Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Ohio Military Reserve. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
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  13. ^ "Georgia – Camopedia".
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  24. ^ Camouflage Uniforms of the Soviet Union and Russia: 1937-to the Present by Dennis Desmond, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (December 1, 1997) ISBN 978-0764304620[page needed]
  25. ^ Spetsnaz: Russia’s Special Forces by Mark Galeotti, page 39.
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