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The morning of 7 December 1941 changed the world. Pearl Harbor, this is the place where the United States of America becomes what it is today, the most powerful military force in the world. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the fall of Japan, the new communist enemy and its expansion gave the final push to the creation of the modern army that we know today.

There is a fundamental change in the Army, which is the need to have bases and be able to move troops quickly anywhere in the world. This gives rise to what will be the larval stage of one of the most impressive armies in history, the U.S. Army of the 80s and 90s. 

The naval capacity for long-distance transport, the creation of airmobile units… But above all, the most noticeable difference with other countries is its high number of troops of outstanding quality, who are well trained, particular, fast and professional. Created to make life easier for “conventional” warfare.

But we must differentiate between elite and special forces. Elite forces are units which over time, because of their history and their military actions, have become troops who are very well trained and equipped, and are used as a spearhead in any campaign. So who wouldn’t be scared if they had to come up against the...

1st  Cavalry Division

The reinterpretation of cavalry riding helicopters was thought up in the Vietnam War and was reflected really clearly in the film “We Were Soldiers”, without forgetting about the great "Apocalypse Now". The happy idea of transporting and posting huge amounts of infantry anywhere you want without the risk of paratrooper launches and of this transport giving fire support close to troops, not only changed the conception of this war, but also of future wars.

101st and 82nd AIRBONE DIVISION

So much could be said about the "Screaming Eagles" and the "All American" that more than one book could be written, as they have been operative in the major conflicts since WWII. Both units were active and present in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the 82nd made combat jumps with up to 1000 men.

These are currently the biggest and best equipped paratrooper divisions in the world. With a lot more firepower than the armies of many countries around the world. In Vietnam, the 101st swapped parachutes for helicopters and these are still used by the approximately 17,000 men who make up the division. It has around 290 helicopters, while the 82nd remains faithful to the “drops” and continues to be an exclusively “para” unit with over 15,000 soldiers and officials.


Founded to provide American ships with rifles and boarding troops during the mutiny against the British, over time the U.S. Marines have defied all problems brought about by an infantry combat unit which belongs to the marine elite and not to the army.

In 1944 the standard issue rifle of the USMC was the bolt-action Springfield 1907 and not the M1 Garand Standard of the Army. The uniform worn in the Pacific in 1941 looked more like pyjamas than a combat jacket. In Vietnam they had a harness system that was obsolete on unimaginable levels. They were the last ones to have the M16 issued because in 1971, there were still guard units with the M14.

The way in which the other army corps “ignored” them, even though they had fought in the Boxer Rebellion (55 Days At Peking), in the First World War and in 100 small conflicts, gave them a sense of pride, a very special self-love, an "esprit de corps", an arms family concept “Once a Marine, Always a Marine”, regardless of their rank or origin. Marines never leave other Marines behind. This is why in 1946, ranks were abolished in combat uniforms. They all look the same when dressed in camouflage and the connecting link between everyone is the Sergeant Major, this Marine who started as a rifleman and based on years and combats, has proudly served for 30 or 40 years. Like Clint Eastwood in the film “Heartbreak Ridge”.

The Marine Corps has always been a class of its own in terms of The Pentagon accounts. It has its own department for supplies, manufacturing and design, camouflages, uniforms and arms, etc.

The camouflages used by the Marines have their own story. In the Pacific War they used a camouflage based on duck hunter suits, popularly known as US Pacific. Used in its own designs such as the HBT or herringbone fabric uniform, P44 model or the paratrooper suit. Of course, the USMC had a paratrooper unit in the Pacific in the Second World War.

In Korea, WWII uniform stocks were used, but some pieces were designed in the poorly-named Mitchell. A camouflage in two different and reversible backgrounds, green and brown, with grape leaf drawings! And like the M1 helmet cover made really popular in the film "Full Metal Jacket".

In the Vietnam War, like the Army, they opted for the "ERDL” camouflage, as its light green tones made it perfect for jungle environments.    

The change happened in 1975, as from then on the predominant colour of the USMC was brown, both in Intermediate and in Woodland camouflage. Although sometimes you need patience and an eye for detail to realise because there’s not much of a difference. Why brown? Because it’s the colour you find on the beach when you disembark.

In 1982 they moved to Woodland and to the BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) design, in the First and Second Gulf War they used the three and six-colour desert camouflages typical of the Army, until the new camouflage arrived which was designed in the "Philadelphia depot". Thanks to the invaluable help of the Canadian Defence Department (this is 100% true, although some pro-American sectors don’t like to hear it), as it had successfully designed the CADPAT pattern and had distributed it to its army in 2001.

The exchange agreement of the Canadians gave rise to a new uniform, the M.C.U.U. or Marine Corps Utility Uniform in Marpat (Marine Pattern) camo pixelated in two initial tones: Woodland and Desert. Both patented and with original marks in the design (you can look for the eagle, globe and anchor of the USMC hidden in the drawing).

It would later be made in grey tones for urban combat (now standard-issue, but not distributed) and in snow white! There are already photos online... Although that’s another story.


The special forces are units that answer directly to the high command or the president’s cabinet. They are formed for use as individual units at a detachment or group level, or for assignment as a one-off reinforcement for larger units that need “something special”. These include:  

Navy SEALs couldn’t be missing from this article. Is it because they’re the most famous? Because they’re legends? Or because, deep down, they’re the best?

They certainly must be so because no other unit in the United States or any other country has the famous “hell week” which is considered to be the toughest force selection system in the world.

In this selection period, not even 15% of candidates complete the preliminary phase and afterwards there are many who drop out of the remaining phases. The test consists of eight weeks of basic conditioning: physical training, water combat, motivation, psychology, etc. Afterwards, they have another week of underwater acclimation, in other words, to see “who doesn’t drown” and then “hell week”, which is like a physical torture and is the most demanding for candidates. And if they get through selection, they still have four weeks of ocean studies and nine more weeks of land warfare techniques after that.