The British Army’s campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan took place in arid desert conditions for much of the time. Despite this, temperatures were not universally high and at night the ambient heat could plummet rapidly. Therefore, in addition to desert DPM shirts, the army issued a heavier field jacket in the desert camouflage:The design of this jacket is clearly a copy of the equivalent CS95 design in temperate DPM. It has two angled breast pockets secured with the distinctive looped tape buttons:And a further two patch pockets on the skirt:It fastens up the front with a zip that is covered by a Velcro fly:A single front mounted tab is provided for rank insignia:A small Union flag is sewn onto the sleeve:As with all modern combat clothing a label is sewn in giving sizing and care instructions:These uniforms were ubiquitous in the early days of the campaign in Afghanistan and here Brigadier James Cowan, commander of the task force in Helmand, can be seen wearing one in 2010:It must be said that the fabric used in this jacket is not particularly thick, but the CS95 uniform and by extension this desert pattern uses a layering principle. Beneath the field jacket would be a shirt and t-shirt layer, the air trapped between each layer then being effective at keeping the wearer warm.
One user who had experience of various different types of uniform outer layers gives his assessment:
Worst combats ever were those on issue when I was in NI in 1991 – single lines of stitching, so the seams would fall apart when you knelt down, and pockets would drop off. Superseded by the interim 94 pattern stuff (similar cut to the Cbt 95 smock – but made of fabric that held more water) : school report would say “an improvement, but could still do better”). At last line infantry had as standard issue a buttonless zip-front smock with decent sized pockets, and sturdy construction (the things that made para smocks attractive): zip front and generous sizing means you can stuff ammo or whatever inside the thing for ready access in a hurry.
Windproof smock – all the advantages of the 94 smock, and is bloody excellent in dry cold. Not so clever in wet, muddy conditions. The fabric’s just too thin, and the ingrained dirt that goes with infantry trench-living will abrade it like feck, so it disintegrates, suddenly (a characteristic of all 100% cotton clobber). The hood’s a pain in the arse, even in Noggieland, where (for all the usual good tactical reasons) it was seldom used, except in the most severe cold (like -40).
Field jacket has to be tops – all of the advantages of the better kit listed above, and designed to minimise the drawbacks of all of the others (like, it’s cotton, so it will wear out . . . but would you prefer something that lasted longer but melts into your flesh when flash-heated by an explosion?) – plus all the clever touches like ripstop fabric and things to tie your compass to.