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An independent state since the end of the Second World War, Albania was an ally of the Soviet Union for many years but never a member of the Warsaw Pact. From 1946 until 1992 the country was a Socialist Republic, militarily influenced by the Soviets until 1960, and by Communist China into the early 1990s. Since 1992, the nation has embraced democratic government and is now known as the Republic of Albania (Republika e Shqipërisë). The country is a member of NATO and has in recent years participated in numerous EU and UN-sponsored peacekeeping operations.
Aside from a single design that emerged in the mid-1990s, Albania has never developed a national camouflage pattern and its armed forces have no military camouflage tradition of its own. It has instead adopted the patterns of other countries, utilizing either military surplus or factory made uniforms produced from imported fabrics.
Another government agency employing camouflage uniforms for some of its personnel is the Albanian Ministry of Interior Affairs (Ministria e Punëve të Brendshme), which includes the State Police (Policia e Shtetit).
Camouflage Uniforms of Albania
The earliest documented pattern worn by the Albanian military was the Soviet M1944 TTsMKK tricolor deceptive pattern, the use of which can be traced to the 1970s. Uniforms in the overlapping stairstep pattern of dark green and foliage green on a yellow-tan base were probably obtained through trade with Soviet Union and may have even been leftover surplus from the Second World War. It is believed the pattern continued to be worn by Border units and reservists well into the 1990s.
One of Albania's earliest participations as an international peacekeeper was in Bosnia as part of the IFOR in 1996. Photographs show the Albanian contingent wearing German Army flecktarn camouflage uniforms, including wet weather gear.
This unique camouflage design known to have been worn by Albania is a vertical stripe pattern that dates to the mid-1990s. The design consists of thick brown, green & olive vertical stripes on pale green background, and is of undetermined origin. Sadly the pattern did not continue in use for long.
Albania's long-standing relationship with China has influenced its choice of military equipment as well as uniforms. The standard woodland-derivative pattern of the PLA has been documented in use by the Albanian Armed Forces since 1995-96, although the uniforms are uniquely tailored. Early uniforms appear to have been produced from the same fabric produced for the PLA, but later variations have heavier fabric (probably locally produced) with darker colors but printed using the same drawings.
Albania has also apparently received considerable recent military aid from the United States, including surplus US m81 woodland camouflage BDUs. Variations of the m81 pattern, probably Chinese or Turkish in origin, have also been documented. These continue to be in standard service with the Albanian Army.
Another camouflage design from the mid-1990s that is often seen among Albanian troops is a "brown leaf" pattern, probably of Turkish origin. Uniforms in this pattern have been documented both in a local-style and typical BDU cut.
Albanian Special Forces have been documented wearing US tricolor desert pattern camouflage uniforms. These appear to be surplus US military issue DCUs.
Albanian personnel that have deployed to Afghanistan have worn a copy of Multicam. These included both Special Forces personnel, as well as members of the National Police.
This unique camouflage design is now being fielded by the Armed Forces of Albania, having first appeared in November of 2012 during the 100th anniversary of the Albanian state. Although there are obvious color similarities to German flecktarn pattern, the design itself bears little resemblance up close, and is, in fact, partially based around pixelated drawings.
A desert variation of this pattern was also introduced in 2012, although it has seen limited distribution.
Within the Albanian State Police, the Forzat e Nderhyrjes se Shpejte (FNSH) - also known as "the Eagles" - are reaction groups similar to Police SWAT units. One unit is assigned to each of the eleven state prefectures. In high visibility situations, members of these groups wear a design based on woodland drawings, but having a bright blue colorway.
Another elite organization of the Ministry of the Interior is the Reparti i Eleminimit dhe Neutralizimit te Elementit te Armatosur (Department of Neutralization of Armed Elements) or RENEA - also called Unit 88. Trained by Germany's GSG-9, this unit is primarily tasked with counter-terrorism and hostage rescue operations. Members of the unit wear a variety of camouflage designs, depending on their particular assignment, including copies of US woodland and MARPAT, and the dark-colored woodland variant worn by the Turkish Jandarma.
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