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The region that now is called the Republic of Chile (República de Chile) was once inhabited by the indigenous Mapuche people. Despite incursions into their territory by the Incas in the late 15th century, the Mapuche successfully defended their land which was never incorporated into the Incan Empire. Spain, however, seeking sources of precious metals, began a long military campaign to bring the region under its control. Although declared a part of the Spanish Empire as early as 1541, the Mapuche launched numerous insurrections lasting as late as 1655. Facing local resistance, encroachment by both the British and Dutch, and harassment by privateers, Chile became one of the most militarized Spanish possessions in the Americas.
Spain maintained control over the region until 1810, when a government junta proclaimed Chile to be an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy. A movement towards national independence followed shortly thereafter, marked by intermittent warfare until 1818, when a military force under Argentine hero José de San Martín defeated the Spanish royalists and proclaimed Chile to be an independent republic. Chile further expanded its territory during the War of the Pacific (1879-1893), but suffered a brief civil war in 1891, which pitted the Chilean Army against the Chilean Navy.
A succession of military governments ruled the nation from 1924 until 1932, and again in 1973 a military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte wrested control of the country and ruled with an iron fist for eight years.
The Armed Forces of Chile consist of four branches: the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Carabineros de Chile which are a gendarmerie-type national police force.
Chilean Camouflage Patterns
Introduced around 1970, the Chilean "frog" (rana) pattern was issued to Army and Marine units operating in the Central Military Zone of the nation. This has also been called "mountain pattern" by some collectors and historians, although the term is probably a misnomer as its use was not restricted to mountain units or to those deployed in mountainous regions. This design was worn until around 1980. A number of color variations have been documented.
Another variation of the rana pattern utilizes a completely different series of shapes.
A camouflage design using "spot"-like shapes similar to the topmost rana pattern but with a completely different colorway is shown here. This is sometimes referred to as "pink panther" (pantera rosa) and was issued to both Army and Marine units serving in the arid Northern Zone (Zona Norte) of Chile. As with the rana pattern, this was worn between 1970 into the mid-1980s. The design consists of olive green and reddish-brown spot shapes on a sandy-pink background; however, as illustrated there are a number of shade variations that have been documented
Like the green version, a predominantly pinkish variation exists with a completely different series of shapes as well.
Chilean Army and Marine units operating in the Southern Zone (Zona Sur) were issued the South Korean produced "turtle shell" pattern camouflage from 1970 into the early 1980s. Uniforms were locally-styled, although some may have been imported from Korean manufacturers. This pattern is also printed on one side of a reversible poncho/shelter half, the reverse of which features a variation of the pattern having grey and ochre-colored shapes on a pink background.
The Chilean Air Force issued a blue-purple leaf camouflage pattern from the 1980s into the 2000s era, having black, lavender and blue-grey leaf shapes on a pale blue background. The pattern is no longer being worn.
In the mid-1980s, all units of the Chilean Armed Forces gradually began to convert to wearing a copy of the US m81 woodland camouflage pattern. This has remained in standard service into the present era for units deployed to the Central and Southern Zones, and due to the wide number of manufacturers can be found in several slight variations. The woodland pattern has now been replaced with a copy of the USMC temperate MARPAT design.
Due to the arid conditions of the Northern Zone, units deployed to this region have since the mid-1980s been issued a locally-produced copy of the US tricolor desert pattern instead of the standard woodland camouflage uniform. This pattern has now been replaced with a digital copy of the USMC desert MARPAT design.
Another desert camouflage pattern has also been documented, although to what degree it was ever issued it is not known. Featuring medium brown and tan leaf shapes on a sandy-colored background, the pattern appears to have been issued in the Northern Zone also, and may pre-date the introduction of the tricolor desert pattern.
Army and Marine units operating in the Andean Zone of Chile have, since the 1990s, been issued a special winter/snow pattern camouflage consisting of black woodland shapes on a solid white background. Prior to the adoption of this camouflage, the units wore solid white.
Since around 2005, the Chilean Army Special Operations Brigade began using uniforms in the US Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP). The pattern is also being worn by the Chilean Air Force Special Operations Forces.
Circa 2007, Chilean Marines tested a copy of the the USMC desert MARPAT pattern camouflage. This pattern is now being fielded by units deployed to the Northern Zone of the country. This pattern has also been adopted by Army units since 2009.
Since approximately 2009, the older woodland camouflage design is being replaced within the Chilean Army by a copy of the USMC temperate MARPAT design. This is the standard field uniform for units deployed to the Central and Southern regions of the country, but has also been worn on deployments with the United Nations. Army units operating in the south zone continue to wear the BDU circa 2013.
Since 2007, the Chilean Marine Corps (Infanteria de Marina) and the Special Forces Command (Comando de Fuerzas Especiales) of the Chilean Navy have adopted a locally-produced version of Multicam. Woodland BDUs are gradually being phased out of other Naval units (such as shore police, intallation security and musicians) and will also be replaced with this pattern. Army Commandos and other members of the Special Operations Brigade adopted the Multicam pattern in 2009, as did the Chilean Air Force Special Operations Forces in 2011.
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