Khaki - Military Use

Military Use

Khaki-colored uniforms were used officially by British troops for the first time during the Abyssinian campaign of 1867–68, when Indian troops traveled to Ethiopia (Abyssinia) under the command of general Sir Robert Napier to release some British captives and to "persuade the Abyssinian King Theodore, forcibly if necessary, to mend his ways". Subsequently, the British Army adopted khaki for the campaign dress in 1897, and it was used in the Second Boer War (1899–1902).

During the Second Boer War, the British forces became known as Khakis because of their uniforms. After victory in the war the government called an election, which became known as the khaki election, a term used subsequently for elections called to exploit public approval of governments immediately after victories.

The United States Army adopted khaki during the Spanish American War (1898). The United States Navy and United States Marine Corp followed suit.

When khaki was adopted for the continental British Service Dress in 1902, the shade chosen had a clearly darker and more green hue. This color was adopted with minor variations by all the British Empire Armies and the US expeditionary force of World War I, in the latter under the name olive drab. This shade of brown-green remained in use by many countries throughout the two World Wars.

During the second half of the WWII, American olive drab became distinctly more green, known as olive green. Most of the countries that participated in NATO, adopted the US military style and with it the olive green color. This color continued to be called khaki in many European countries. In France for example the term passed in the general language for a green shade of olive color. The older yellow-brown used in WWI was called in France moutarde instead.

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