ERDL pattern is a camouflage pattern developed by the United States Army at its Engineer Research & Development Laboratories (ERDL) in 1948. It was not issued to elite reconnaissance and special operations units until early 1967, during the Vietnam War.
The pattern consists of 4 colors printed in an interlocking pattern.
The pattern was initially produced in a lime-dominant colorway, consisting of large organic shapes in mid green and brown, black ‘branches’, and light green ‘leaf highlights’. Shortly thereafter a brown-dominant scheme (with the light green replaced by light tan) was manufactured. The two patterns are also known as "Lowland" and "Highland" ERDL, respectively.
The United States Marine Corps (USMC) adopted the brown ‘Highland’ version as standard issue from 1968, and later the U.S. Army introduced it on a wide scale in Southeast Asia. A third variation, known as 'Delta' from an alleged use in the Mekong Delta area of South Vietnam, was issued in the early 1970s. By the end of the Vietnam War, American troops wore camouflage combat dress as the norm. 'Delta' ERDL is the same as 'Highland' pattern, but the black 'branches' appear thicker and less detailed. The ERDL-pattern combat uniform was identical in cut to the Olive Drab (OD) jungle fatigues it was issued alongside.
Following the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Vietnam in 1973, the Army no longer routinely issued camouflage clothing. The 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment wore the ERDL-leaf pattern as an experiment in the early 1970s in Baumholder, Germany. The USMC continued wearing the transitional ‘Delta’ ERDL pattern, which became general issue in the mid 1970s. It was to be used to equip the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) while on tropical missions. Photographs during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis showed U.S. Embassy Marines wearing the RDF version ERDL uniforms when they were taken prisoner by Iranian revolutionaries.
It was not until 1981 that the Army approved another camouflaged uniform. That year it officially introduced the battle dress uniform (BDU) in M81 Woodland pattern, an enlarged and slightly altered version of ERDL-leaf, to supply all arms of the US Forces. The last batches of the ERDL fatigues saw service during Operation Eagle Claw, Beirut and the Grenada Invasion.
- Australia - The SASR used ERDL during the Vietnam War.
- Cambodia - Some Khmer National Armed Forces (FANK) elite units acquired ERDL fatigues during the Cambodian Civil War in 1970-75.
- Woodland pattern vz.95.
- Hong Kong - Hong Kong Police Force's Quick Reaction Force.
- New Zealand - NZ SAS used ERDL during the Vietnam War.
- Nicaragua - National Guard (Nicaragua) EEBI 'commando' troops in 1968-1979.
- Philippines - Armed Forces of the Philippines.
- The Singapore Armed Forces recently introduced a digital camouflage uniform and is in the process of replacing its ERDL pattern uniforms.
- The Singapore National Cadet Corps is currently issuing the pattern but will follow suit with the SAF in issuing the new digital camouflage pattern.
- South Vietnam - Various ARVN units acquired ERDL fatigues.
- Thailand - Various Thai units used ERDL and also manufactured batches for U.S. forces.
- United States
- U.S. Air Force - Used by ground troops and by various USAF Pilots underneath G-Suits instead of flight overalls as they became useful in the Jungle environment when downed.
- U.S. Army - ERDL was the replacement of Tigerstripe for U.S. Special Forces but eventually was issued widespread.
- U.S. Marines - ERDL was issued to USMC Force Reconnaissance units.
- U.S. Navy - ERDL was mostly issued to the U.S. Navy SEALS and Master-at-Arms rates and Seabees.
- Military camouflage
- List of camouflage patterns
Stanton, Shelby. (1989). US Army Uniforms of the Vietnam War. Stackpole Books; Harrisburg PA. Comparison between ERDL and M81 Woodland.