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Iraqi CAMO

The present Republic of Iraq (جمهورية العراق) encompasses territory that was home to the Sumerian Civilization, considered the oldest civilization on Earth (5th to 2nd Millenium BCE). The region was overrun by the Mongols in the 13th century CE, and absorbed into the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century.

Following the First World War, Iraq came under the British Mandate as part of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. Establishing a Hashemite Kingdom under Faisal, Iraq was granted independence in 1932 (Kingdom of Iraq), although it was re-occupied by British forces in 1941. The Hashemite monarchy was reinstated in 1947, but overthrown in 1958 by a military coup d'etat, leading to another coup in 1963. In 1968, the government was again overthrown by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, under Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakir. In 1979, control of the country was wrested from Al-Bakir by Saddam Hussein, who remained as president of the country until the US-led invasion in 2003 (Iraq War or 2nd Gulf War).

Iraq was involved in three major military campaigns following the Second World War. The first of these, the Iran-Iraq War, lasted from September 1980 until August 1988 with an estimated 300,000 Iraqis dead (and as many as 1,000,000 Iranians). In 1990, Iraqi military forces invaded neighboring Kuwait, claiming it was a historical part of the country. Following international condemnation of the action, a coalition of nations mounted a military response (Persian Gulf War) which resulted in the liberation of Kuwait and a crippling of Iraqi military forces. Under the dubious claim that the nation was secretly hiding weapons of mass destruction, the United States led an invasion of coalition forces into Iraq in March 2003, resulting in the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, his eventual trial and execution. Although in the process of being rebuilt, the nation continues to be wracked by factional violence, with a number of insurgent movements (some led by Iraqi nationalists, others sponsored by terrorist organizations) operating against the newly restructured Iraqi Security Forces and coalition members. In the north, Kurdistan is a legally-defined region with its own government and military forces (the Peshmerga), although technically it is still a part of Iraq.

Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Armed Forces were divided into two primary forces: the conventional armed forces (which included the Iraqi Army, Navy, Air Force and the Republican Guards, and the Popular Army (الجيش الشعبي), a paramilitary organization of Ba'ath Party loyalists whose primary purpose was to prevent a military takeover of the regime from conventional forces. In addition, the Fedayeen Saddam (Men of Sacrifice) were another paramilitary organization of Ba'ath Party loyalists, and were particularly employed to suppress political opponents. Of these, the Republican Guards were the most well-trained and well-equipped of all the armed forces, although special units such as the commandos, paratroops and special forces also received extra pay, better uniforms and equipment, and specialized training. The Iraqi Armed Forces have worn literally dozens of different camouflage patterns since the days of the Iran-Iraq War. Most of these have been sourced from other countries, although in the last days of the Saddam Hussein regime it appears many of the uniforms were locally-made. Historically, camouflage uniforms were only provided to units with "elite" status, such as the commandos and paratroopers of the Army Special Forces, and some units of the Republican Guards. Since the restructuring of the new Iraqi Armed Forces, camouflage uniforms have become standard issue to most military personnel, although some elite units still maintain their esprit de corps by wearing unique or different camouflage designs to those of the more conventional units.

The earliest documented camouflage pattern worn by Iraqi troops was a copy of the British brushstroke design found on the 1950s era Denison smock. These smocks were no doubt issued only to airborne personnel and may have been supplied by the British government as military aid. Extant photos suggest these had fallen into disuse by the 1970s.