Combats is an overall term used in the Canadian Forces (CF) to describe the daily work dress of the Army and the Air Force. And also those Navy personnel posted to a land based unit, but that's a small percentage. The newest design of these was introduced by the much talked about "Clothe the Soldier" program, and were first issued in 2002, although they had been in development since 1995. The outfit is, rather obviously, called "combats" because it is designed to be worn into a combat situation. The standard issue outfit consists of combat pants, a combat shirt, combat boots, and a Kevlar helmet, or a wide brimmed hat should circumstances allow. Or your beret, should you not be in the field.
Hide and go seek.
The most obvious feature of Canadian combats is the distinctive camouflage pattern used. The Canadian Disruptive Pattern (CADPATTM) comes in two types, Temperate Woodland, and Arid Regions. CADPAT uses small rectangles of various colours, arranged in groups, with what I suppose is best described as "noise" added, with some rectangles of the other colours straying into the boundaries of the main colour blocks. The reasoning behind this is that at close range, the tiny little blocks is best for disrupting the brain's natural pattern recognition, helping you avoid the watchful eye of the enemy. But, when viewed at a distance, the blocks will blur together much like the dots of ink used to print on a newspaper blur together to form a picture. Viewed at a distance, just random dots would appear to be the same colour, and thus no more effective as camouflage than a plain green or black uniform.
Tests of CADPAT camouflage showed it to be 40% more effective at hiding a soldier at 200m than the old olive combats, and on average requiring the enemy to be 35% closer to be able to see you. That is assuming you use it with the proper accessories. This is definitely a good thing.
The standard Temperate Woodland CADPAT is the general work dress throughout most CF bases in Canada, and have been so since they first started arriving on base in 2001 It consists of a dark green, a lighter green, black, and light brown. The Arid Regions CADPAT consists of brown, tan, and beige. Unfortunately, the Arid Regions CADPAT lagged a year or so behind. Until quite recently, those Canadian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks had to make do with the Temperate Woodland version. And yes, they were made fun of by the Americans as a result.
Canada was the first military in the world to use a digitized pattern for their combat dress, but since then over 8 other countries have done so as well, including the United States Marine Corps' MARPAT.
Now which bloody pocket were my keys in?
The other most obvious trait of the combats is the pockets. There's enough of them. The combat shirt has two breast pockets, suitable for a compass or a small notepad, one inner Velcro pocket, which I found most useful for ID cards and a victory cigar for when you're finally headed back to base after a week in the field, and two large pockets below the breast pockets. A good size for the storage of gloves, toques, and other such items of that size.
The pants have slightly larger than jean sized pockets, and two back pockets, for wallets and the like, secured by Velcro. Also, two larger pockets on the thighs, just about the perfect size to hold your wide brimmed hat (Think a Tilley Hat in CADPAT) or your beret.
It's the little stuff that makes a difference.
Other features include an epaulet for your rank insignia slip on, located in the centre of the chest. On your right breast there is a Velcro strip, where you can attach your name tag. The left shoulder has a tab with Velcro, where a tiny Canadian flag can be attached, or also a armband signifying various things. That you are a medic, part of a UN tour, an MP, a Range Control Officer, or my favorite, the stupid orange thing they made us wear while we were still in basic training.
The shirt / pants are durable, breathable garments that dry quickly. Combats are designed to be worn loose, and have lots of room for various layers to be worn under it, when need be. Like most of the time in Canada. It's sometimes cold up here, y'know? At the very least it should be worn with a pair of underwear and a t-shirt. You'd think that I shouldn't have to mention that, but unfortunately, some people just don't get that message.
I suppose I should talk about the boots. Officially, standard issue are the new Goretex "Wet Weather Boots", but there are still a whole lot of the old variety in the system. The vast majority of people still have that type. The Goretex ones seem warmer, but I can see the old ones being more useful in most situations where keeping warm isn't all that much of a problem. Especially since the Goretex boots do seem to have a traction problem on ice anyways.
For an idea of what it looks like in action, check out here, and for a good close up look at the actual CADPAT pattern, try here. If those go down, this site should stay up, just search around there a bit. Unfortunately for myself, I don't have combats anymore. They make the navy guys give those back when they're done basic training. Something about us not needing it anymore. Pity, because the things are almost like pyjamas. Now a days, I have to make do with either my Naval Combats (which I shall have to cover in another node) or with my more dressy stuff, all of which requires ironing.
OH YEAH. Don't iron your combats! They'll go all shiny, and you'll look stupid. And if you're on deployment, you might look dead.
Minister of Defence. Clothe the Soldier. September 11, 2003. <www.army.forces.gc.ca/Chief_Land_Staff/Clothe_the_soldier/hab/1/13_e.asp> (November 1, 2005.)
sirlancelot. "CADPAT-MARPAT: How 'Digital' Camo Works," [TMP] The Miniature Page. <theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=56419> (November 1, 2005.)
Brad Turner. "North America > Canada > Canadian Disruptive Pattern, Temperate Woodland (CADPAT)," kamouflage.net. February 2, 2005. <www.kamouflage.net/camouflage/en_00007.php> (November 1, 2005.)