Soldiers used to wear visually outstanding armors. For example, the Roman forces, clad in shiny silver armors, intimidated weak tribes. The Joseon forces of Korea wore armors made from hanji or traditional Korean paper, which is characterized by the feeling of thickness and durableness. The hanji armor was not as firm as that made of steel or leather. However, hanji was stiffer than wallpaper or carbon paper so it did not get easily ripped up.
As armors became useless due to the rise of guns and gunpowder, military forces chose colors over stiffness. In the Napoleonic wars, European forces wore uniforms in primary colors. Each nation had its own symbolic color for military uniforms just as British soldiers wore “red coats.” According to historical records, countries were called by their color not by their national name – the white, blue, red or gray forces.
You may think that uniforms in primary color would have made soldiers an easy target for riflemen. Back in the 18th century, however, guns were not powerful enough to allow for remote firing. In the era of line formation, soldiers headed forward in dense mass formation, which made no difference no matter which color their uniforms were in.
Even though guns led to the advent of primary color uniforms at first, they drove them out of the military in the end. As breach-loading rifles increased the maximum range, snipers played a key role in battles. Around the 20th century, the military replaced uniforms in primary colors with those in darker and grimmer colors. Some nations quickly adopted darker colors as they learned the risk associated with bright color uniforms while others refused to do so because they believed that color represents nationality. However, it was not until horrible battles claimed thousands of lives that they chose darker colors.
Nevertheless, some harshly criticized the measure. As France gave up on red color pants for soldiers, they shouted, “Pants in red color represent France.” In the past loaded with notions, it might have made some sense. However, the fact is that red color pants only are those stained with blood in a war full of snipers, machine guns and cannons.
It is only natural that errors are supposed to be corrected right away, but it happens only when numerous lives are victimized. Humans are proud of their brain power, intelligence and common sense. While we are living in an era when humans can travel space and create living things, we still change red color pants only after they get covered with blood. It is really hard to understand how absurd it is.