Monday, March 05, 2012


Camouflage and Concealment 101

(I have often lamented the disturbing proclivity of “survivalists” and other patriots for wearing the latest camouflage patterned uniforms. Whether the latest multi-cam or A-TACs, or some bizarre foreign pattern, from British DPM to the newly available Russian Spetsnaz patterns, the idea of decking one's self out, head-to-toe in camouflage utilities, in an apparent need to pretend you are some sort of high-speed, low-drag Tier One JSOC Jedi, is—to put it bluntly—fucking retarded. Further, it's really pretty gay. --J.M.)

The ability to conceal one's self and equipment from enemy observation, during daylight or night-time operations, is an obvious, basic critical tactical task for the resistance/guerrilla fighter. Camouflage is one of the most basic historical weapons of small-unit warfare. For irregular forces, the ability to effectively apply camouflage techniques may very well mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield. For lightly-armed, poorly-equipped irregular forces, camouflage is critical since the team cannot afford to be detected at any time while infiltrating an objective area, or while operating from an assault position/MSS/hide site. Just as marksmanship training teaches the guerrilla how to kill the enemy, knowing how and when to apply camouflage teaches the guerrilla how to avoid being killed by the enemy. The guerrilla element must remain camouflage-conscious from the time he departs the guerrilla base or underground safe-house, until he returns. Detailed attention to the fundamentals of camouflage and concealment is one mark of a well-trained guerrilla band.

When determining camouflage needs, the war-fighter must adhere to critical fundamentals, recognizing that the camouflage pattern of his clothing is the single least important aspect of the total package (in point of fact, simple earth-toned clothing is better, in many ways, than any engineered camouflage pattern). These fundamentals include taking advantage of any and all natural concealment such as trees, brush and grass, the natural lay of the land (folds in the terrain), man-made structures, and shadows. The guerrilla must recognize the need to camouflage himself and his equipment against both terrestrial and airborne observation (it's pretty embarrassing to sit in on an AAR of a training exercise only to discover that the OPFOR walked directly to your hide site because the air support elements spotted you laying in a ditch in the open...ask me how I know....). The shape, shadows, textures, and colors of man-made objects and equipment must be altered to blend into the surrounding environment. It is equally critical however, for the guerrilla to recognize that even in crossing a short distance, the vegetation may change color and consistency numerous times in a given operational area.

For these reasons, the guerrilla must learn to practice and master camouflage discipline. He will change his camouflage to match the terrain patterns and foliage as he moves, as well as when it dries up and wilts. The natural foliage utilized to augment camouflage must look natural at all times.

Critical Individual Tactical Task: Camouflage Self and Equipment

Conditions: Given individual combat equipment, including three-line load-bearing equipment (LBE), individual weapons, local natural camouflage materials, assorted artificial camouflage materials, including burlap garnish, camouflage face-paint, and camouflage colors spray paint. The fighter will be wearing earth-toned outdoor/work wear.

Standards: Camouflage yourself and your equipment in order to prevent detection by visual, auditory, olfactory, or other detection methods.

Performance and Training Steps:

  1. Identify critical camouflage concerns, including specific target indicators to avoid.
    a) movement: Movement draws attention and reduced-light/no-light conditions do not prevent observation. Minimize movement, and slow down any necessary movement. Time is on the side of the guerrilla.
    b) shape: Use natural and artificial camouflage materials to disrupt easily recognizable shapes and silhouettes of man-made objects/equipment. Stay in the shadows when moving, whenever possible.
    c) shine/reflection: Avoid the distinctive and easily recognized visual signatures created by reflected light by covering (or removing, if possible), mirrors, eyeglass lenses (including sunglasses/safety glasses), watch faces, pressed and starched clothing/uniforms, sun/wind/dust protective goggles, weapons-mounted optical lenses and flashlight lenses.
    d) color: Blend individual camouflage into the color scheme of local environmental foliage, and ensure that nothing on your person or your equipment contrasts with your background as viewed from the enemy perspective. Change camouflage as often as needed when moving from one area to another.
  2. Camouflage your exposed skin.
    a) wear gloves. Not only does this help camouflage your exposed skin on your hands, they provide protection from rough, rocky terrain, as well as dangerously hot, freshly fire weapon barrels, and other battlefield hazards.
    b) when camouflaging your face, use the appropriate color combinations for your local environmental area, and remember to use the lighter color in the shadowed, recessed areas of your face, and the darker color on the raised, high-lighted areas of your face. Do not forget to camouflage, your neck (front and back), your ears (including the backs), and for those with white walled, “high-and-tight” hairstyles, or shaved heads, the back of your skull (and for those with high-and-tights, let your fucking hair grow out already. Even the Ranger Regiment no longer mandates high-and-tights!)
  3. Camouflage your clothing and LBE.
    a) wear long-sleeved, earth-tone shirts, and roll your sleeves down.
    b) attach leaves, grass, small branches, and burlap strips to your clothing and LBE. These will assist in distorting shapes and blending colors with the natural background of the environmental area.
    c) cover or remove any shiny items on your personal equipment. If necessary, use black or green spray paint to re-cover tarnished items that may reflect light, thus serving as a target indicator.
    d) secure items, using 100-mph tape, rubber bands, or 550 cord, that rattle or make noise when moved or worn.

Training Exercise for Camouflage and Concealment

Task Description: The guerrilla buddy team will conceal themselves within 200 yards (100 yards if in broken or heavily-vegetated terrain) of an observer. The observer will use 10X binoculars to try and locate the guerrilla buddy team. The guerrilla element must be able to engage the observer with blank rifle fire (live ammunition may be used if it can be done in a thoroughly safe manner that precludes any change of accidental injury or death to the observer, only if blank ammunition is completely unavailable). The guerrilla element must remain unseen by the observer throughout the duration of the exercise.

(In order to maximize the effectiveness of this exercise, it should be conducted at different times, in different terrain environments. For instance, it may be conducted in a fairly open area, once along a wood-line, once in a heavily-vegetated area, and once in broken, rough terrain. It may also be conducted in a built-up area if the local operational area demands it.)

Conduct of the Exercise: The trainer assigns the guerrilla buddy team a specified area with boundaries in which to camouflage itself properly. The observer turns his back to the exercise area and allows the guerrilla team 5 minutes (during initial training, longer periods may be allowed, to provide for unhurried practice) in which to camouflage itself. At the end of 5 minutes, the observer turns and begins his search for the concealed guerrilla element. The observation may last up to ½ hour. If at the end of 30 minutes, the observer has not successfully identified the location of the concealed guerrilla buddy team, he will radio and instruct one of his assistants to move within 10 yards of the concealed team. If the observer can still not locate the team, the team will fire one round (the observer is looking for visual target indicators of the shot, including muzzle blast, vegetation flying from the muzzle blast, movement of the members of the guerrilla buddy-team, etc). If the team can still not be seen, the walker will point in the general direction of the buddy-team. If the team is still unseen, the walker will place his hand above the head of one member of the buddy-team. If the team passes all of these tests without observation, the observer will hold up a sign with a number or letter on it that the team must correctly identify.

(This is a fairly basic, standard camouflage and concealment exercise during military sniper courses, from the U.S. Army Basic Sniper Course at Ft. Benning, GA, and USMC Scout-Sniper Course at Camp Lejeune, CA, to the Special Forces Sniper Course (formerly Special Operations Target Interdiction Course) at Ft. Bragg, NC. As impossibly challenging as it seems, this exercise must be passed to graduate from any of those courses. It is a prime example of the mastery of camouflage that the guerrilla must possess in order to be combat-effective against numerically- and technologically-superior enemy forces.)

In order to create and maintain interest in this exercise, as well as providing practice in observational skills for other members of the guerrilla force, one-half of the class may be positioned with the observer so that they can profit from the mistakes of others. Once a buddy team fails the exercise, they move directly to the observation point to observe.

Nous Defions!

John Mosby

Somewhere in the mountains

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