First created in 2051, the military-grade combat armor was designed to protect key sections of the human body from ballistic trauma with hard armored plates made from complex polymers and ceramics, with a flexible body suit interwoven with thermal-dissipative membranes and bulletproof material. The earliest models of the combat armor were manufactured as specific plates mounted on combat webbing, although as the technology improved, body-enclosing suits of armor were created and entered active combat duty, though in limited quantities. The armor came with a matte-finish olive drab coloring by default, making it suitable for woodland and/or urban camouflage.
Prior to the Great War, combat armor was nearly exclusively the property of military forces and special police units. Currently-available historical documentation shows users only in the North American continent, but allied nations were likely to possess identical or similar systems. Combat armor was the de facto armor of the United States military, issued to all combat soldiers not in the powered armor units. Additionally, at least one Canadian partisan was caught on camera wearing a suit of combat armor.
Brotherhood armor is a superior version of combat armor, including several Brotherhood of Steel technological upgrades. Its distinguishing marks include pale green/gray coloring of the armor panels, blue trim on the chest armor panels, a brilliant silver gorget and under-armor breastplate, and pronounced riveting on the pauldrons. Its damage threshold and damage resistances are strictly superior to those of the combat armor Mk II. However, its armor class is identical, and it weighs more. Despite these improvements, the armor will likely be largely useless by the time that you get it. This is especially true in Fallout 2, where this armor and the power armor share the same locker. It is still useful if you give it to companions, however. This armor is also issued to all Initiates of the Brotherhood of Steel.