Soldiers from the First Illinois Infantry in Cuba in August, 1898. They are identified by last name only, from left, Irwin, Trebbin, Stizrud and Levine. / AP
Combat uniforms featuring the Army's newest camouflage pattern will be available for sale in the summer of 2015.
Camouflage was not widely used in early wars when soldiers lined up and battled at close range. When tactics changed, camouflage became useful.
USA TODAY Network lists a brief history of U.S. military camouflage:
1898: During the Spanish-American War, the blue coats of U.S. troops fighting in Cuba were visible targets to snipers. Troops smeared mud on their uniforms to be less conspicuous.
1902: The U.S. Army changed its summer uniform to the brown khaki worn by British troops in India. The Army also adopted camouflage color for its winter service uniform-- a dull, greenish-brown color designed as "olive-drab." The blue uniform is kept for "dress" occasions
World War I era: With the emergence of machines guns, trench warfare and aerial photography, major armies worked on developing low-visibility uniforms. The U.S. Army formed a camouflage unit made up of camofleurs -- people who were artists and designers in their civilian lives.
World War II era: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers experimented with camouflage uniforms in 1940. In 1943, U.S. Marines in the Solomon Islands wear reversible beach/jungle coveralls with green-and-brown "frog" patterns.
The Marine Corps soon adopted a two-piece uniform made of the same camouflage material. It also used the frog pattern on helmet covers, ponchos and shelters. In 1944, U.S. troops -- especially airborne pathfinder units landing in Normandy -- camouflaged their uniforms by painting splotches and stripes on their jumpsuits. By the end of the war, camouflage combat suits lost favor; the brown side washed out and looked pink, and the two weights of material in the reversible uniform made it hot.
1950s: Camouflage uniforms in a leaf-and-twig pattern introduced but were not widely worn and soon dropped. The camouflage helmet and shelters issued in the 1950's survived, though.
1960s: There was no new official camouflage uniform for fighting in Vietnam. The camouflage Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), with a four-color pattern developed by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) in 1948, saw limited use in the Army, which prefered the solid olive-green "boonie suit."
Other unofficial patterns used in Vietnam included black horizontal stripes over a dark-and-light-green background, adopted from the Vietnamese tigerstripe pattern (itself based on French patterns from 1953), or commercial "duck hunter" patterns.
By 1965, Navy SEALs, Green Berets and other Special Forces acquired "Tigerstripe" which became the thing to wear, on- and off-duty. Non-Tigerstripe camouflage was introduced in 1967, when the American ERDL developed an early woodland-style leaf pattern.
1970s: Research into camouflage patterns continued. In the late 1970s, the large four-color pattern of black, brown, green and khaki, called M81 woodland, became the new standard U.S. camouflage. Designed during the Cold War, woodland made soldiers less visible in a European environment. It was authorized for wear by all branches of the military.
U.S. military camouflage changes over the years
1980s: The woodland camouflage pattern was officially introduced in 1981 with the new Battle Dress Uniform (BDU). American troops wear woodland camouflage during the Grenada invasion in 1983. Meanwhile, the U.S. issues a six-color, desert-shaded uniform (dubbed "chocolate chip"), which is later associated with Norma Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War.
Gulf War era: Desert camouflage was essential in the early1990s with the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War. The six-color "chocolate chip" cammie -- with its dark brown and gray hues, black specks and tightly mottled pattern -- became associated with the war. In 1992, it was replaced with a three-color desert pattern of tan, brown and light khaki green -- and a more subdued pattern. A nighttime desert pattern, with little black squares and checks of white and black, was used on jackets. It was designed to interfere with night-vision devices.
Iraq and Afghanistan Wars: In 2004, the Army adopted a three-color Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), which was worn in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is a computer-generated mix of green, tan and gray that helps soldiers blend into woodland, desert and urban environments.
What's next: The Army plans to phase out UCP and replace it with Operational Camouflage Pattern, with a color palette of muted green, light beige and dark brown. The pattern's use will extend beyond Afghanistan to all combatant commands.
Research by Anne R. Carey, USA TODAY: "Brassey's Book of Camouflage" by Tim and Quentin Newark; U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Natick, Mass.; Army Quartermaster Foundation (www.qmfound.com); "Camouflage uniforms of the world" website (camo.henrikc.dk); Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias (en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/1690416); Army Times; www.kamouflage.net
Read the original story: A brief history of U.S. military camouflage