Military Uniform - Purpose - Psychological Warfare

Psychological Warfare

The appearance of the troops was often enhanced in some way to intimidate the enemy. The tall, mitre-shaped caps worn by grenadiers in the 18th century made their wearers appear bigger and more impressive. King Frederick William I of Prussia had a guard unit of especially tall men with tall mitre hats, the Potsdam Giants. Prussian hussars wore the "skull and crossbones" (Totenkopf) on their hats from 1740 to 1918. This tradition continues into the present day with nose art and fin flash on combat aircraft. The unique combat uniforms of the US Marines has also led to nicknames given by the enemy; "Black boots," "Yellow Legs" and "White sleeves" to name a few.

The warriors of ancient Sparta, normally known for their austere lifestyle, wore expensive red cloaks. Reportedly this was adopted as the only colour on which the spilled blood of their enemies would not leave stains. There is a popular myth that the historic red coat of the English soldier was adopted for the same reason (in fact, blood does show as a dark stain on red clothing and the British red coat originated as a historical accident, possibly as a result of the relative cheapness of madder red dyes at the time of the English Civil War in the mid-17th century).

Hair styles in military organisations usually follow civilian fashions, but sometimes certain features are associated with soldiers. In the late 19th century, the ornate beards and moustaches worn by the officers of the day, which complemented their rank and age, were also worn by socially equivalent civilians. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the "high and tight" haircut often distinguished low-ranking soldiers, particularly infantrymen, or, in the United States, Marines and Soldiers of all ranks. The principal purpose, however, of the "high and tight" is to prevent lice, promote general hygiene, and with modern regulations against beards to ensure a good seal is made around the face when using a gas mask.

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Famous quotes containing the word warfare:

    Dying is a troublesome business: there is pain to be suffered, and it wrings one’s heart; but death is a splendid thing—a warfare accomplished, a beginning all over again, a triumph. You can always see that in their faces.
    George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)