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Monday, August 11, 2008

Why do soldiers wear Khaki?

Soldiers wear khaki for camouflage, or course, to ensure that they blend with their background and make them lees easily spotted by their enemies.
In early times camouflage was not so important to soldiers; fighting at that time was usually hand to hand, and distinctive uniforms were necessary so that the combatants could discriminated between friend and foe. The uniforms were as colorful as possible and were covered with feathers, ribbons and to other decorations to give the fighting men a sense of unity, a feeling of belonging to, and being a part of their own regiment.
But with the invention of the breech-loading gun and long-range artillery, camouflage became very important indeed, as the British soldiers fighting in the American War of Independence found to their cost. Many of the Americans had no uniform as such, and wore their usual hunting shirts, whose neutral colour gave them good protection. The British soldiers, in their red coats and white breeches, presented perfect targets, and were unable to melt into the landscape.
In the 1840s Lieutenant Harry Lumsden was forming a regiment cavalry and infantry in northern India, and was given permission to arm and dress his men as he whished. Since their duties would involve skirmishes with the natives he decided that his men should wear with the natives he decided that his men should wear uniforms the color of the local ground, so that they would be inconspicuous, and cloth specially dyed locally. It was called Kahki after the Urdu word for dusty, and when Lumsden’s regiment went into action in 1849 they were known as the ‘Mudlarks”.
The success of the Khaki camouflage led to all British soldiers being issued with Khaki uniform when they were posted overseas, though colours charged slightly in accordance with the surrounding countryside.
When the First World War started in 1914 some cavalry regiments were their traditional colourful uniforms, but they soon changed to Khaki, the colour of the med in the trenches and the dust of the roads they had to travel.
Today soldiers all over the world dress in Khaki, glad to the protection it affords them. The bright, colourful uniforms that once glamourized war have disappeared.