This country was the first to introduce digital camouflage in its uniforms

The new CADPAT (MT) digital camouflage of the Canadian Armed Forces

Many armies around the world are implementing new mimetic patterns on their uniforms, in search of more effective camouflage.

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Many of the new camouflages are inspired by Multicam, a camouflage that began gaining many enthusiasts among special operations forces. However, Canada has distanced itself from this trend. The Canadian Armed Forces were the first to adopt digital or pixelated camouflage. It was introduced in 1997 and was the inspiration for the famous MARPAT camouflage of the United States Marines (USMC), introduced in 2005.

The original CADPAT, today known as CADPAT (TW), for Temperate Woodland, is a digital camouflage especially designed for Canadian forests, consisting of four colors: light green, dark green, brown and black.

Canada develops its foreign operations in countries where CADPAT (TW) is not effective. For this reason, in 2002 the Canadian Armed Forces introduced CADPAT (AR), for Arid Regions, for use by its soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. This pattern consists of three colors: light brown, dark brown and sand. Aesthetically it is similar to the desert MARPAT used by the USMC.

In addition to these two variants, Canada also implemented a version for snowy landscapes, the CADPAT (WO), for Winter Operations. This is the simplest version of CADPAT: it just adds some gray pixelated figures to a white background.

In 2021, the Canadian Armed Forces announced a new camouflage, CADPAT (MT), for Multi Terrain. This new mimetic pattern would be introduced with a new uniform: the Modernized Combat Uniform (MCU).

Curiously, the first images of the new camouflage already in service have been released by the Latvian Army, in a series of photos showing the relief of NATO's Battle Group Latvia at Ādaži Military Base, Latvia, passing command to Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Francois Labonté of the Canadian Armed Forces.

In February 2024 , the Government of Canada announced the entry into service of the new camouflage, which will replace the CADPAT (TW) and the CADPAT (AR). The Canadian Government notes that these versions of CADPAT are "among the most effective camouflage patterns worn by any army in the world." So why the change?

The Government of Canada justifies the new camouflage in this way: "technological advances in warfighting, namely the digitization and proliferation of surveillance and sensors, mean having soldiers less detectable to the enemy is increasingly important. CADPAT (MT) provides outstanding performance across the widest range of environments in which Canadian soldiers are likely to operate."

Regarding the development of the new camouflage, the Canadian Government noted the following: "Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) developed specialized software, which takes the information from digital photographs of a wide range of operating environments, pixilates them, and then calculates the percentage of each colour and texture present in the environment to form the new Multi-Terrain or MT." The Canadian Government also points out why it did not choose Multicam: "CADPAT (MT) was found to be the most effective, in the global conditions in which Canadian soldiers are likely to operate."

It should be noted that this is not the first time that an attempt has been made to cover all possible terrain with the same digital pattern. That is what the US Army did with the famous Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), also known as ACU, gray in appearance. It turned out to be a failure and gave way to a variant of the Multicam, the OCP. We'll see if history repeats itself in Canada.

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Photos: Government of Canada / Latvijas Armija.

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