Vietnam Tiger StripeVietnam Tiger Stripe Close up

Combat Fatigue - Vietnam Era Uniform

1957 - 1970

Tiger Stripe is the name of a group of camouflage patterns developed for close-range use in dense jungle during jungle warfare by the South Vietnamese Armed Forces/US Forces. It derives its name from its resemblance to a tiger's stripes.


It is not clear who developed the tigerstripe pattern, consisting of 64 stripes. The French used a similar pattern during in Vietnam. Simultaneously, the British used a similar pattern in Burma (Possibly the-then SAS Smock/Denison Smock). After the French left Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam Marine Corps continued using the pattern, a variant of which was later adopted by Vietnamese Rangers and Special Forces. When the United States began sending advisors to South Vietnam, USMAAG advisors attached to the ARVN were authorized to wear their Vietnamese unit's combat uniform with US insignia. Soon, many American special operations forces in the Vietnamese theater of operations wore the pattern, despite not always being attached to ARVN units: it became the visible trademark of Green Berets, LRRPs, SEALs and other elite forces.

The Tigerstripe was never an official US-issued item. Personnel permitted to wear it at first had their camo fatigues custom-made by local tailors as ARVN uniforms were too small for most Americans; for this reason there were many variations of the pattern. From 1969 5th Special Forces Group contracted with Vietnamese producers to make fatigues and other items such as boonie hats using ARVN fabric. During the latter stages of the war, tigerstripe was gradually replaced by the-then-new ERDL pattern, a predecessor of the woodland Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) pattern.

Besides American and ARVN forces, Australian and New Zealand military forces also used tigerstripe camouflage combat uniforms while on advisory duty in Vietnam, with Australian and New Zealand advisors to the ARVN, and Australian and New Zealand Special Air Service soldiers being the principal wearers of tigerstripe uniforms.

Current Use

US Special Operations Forces, such as the US Navy SEALs and the Green Berets, are still using Tiger Stripe camouflage in operations in Afghanistan and it has proved itself to be very effective for this type of environment.

The Tiger Stripe Combat Fatigue features narrow strips that look like brush-strokes of green and brown, along with broader brush-strokes of black printed over a lighter shade of olive or khaki. The brush-strokes interlock rather than overlapping, as in French Lizard pattern from which it apparently derives.

Often times, Airmen wore uniforms sanitized while out of garrison.

The Air Force's new ABU design is a pixilated tiger stripe with four soft earth tones consisting of tan, grey, green and blue.

Tiger Stripe